Princeton Resolutions


New Years is a time for reflection and resolutions. Therefore, I reached out to my fellow bloggers about some of their Princeton Resolutions for the coming year. Below you will find a few ways in which students are looking to take advantage of all that Princeton offers in 2017.

Michelle Greenfield '18

My Princeton resolution for this coming year is to search out new and exciting study spots on campus. Princeton has so much beautiful architecture ranging from Collegiate Gothic to contemporary that it is a shame to always sit in my room or in the basement of the library. Therefore, I want to explore the hidden gems the school offers and find those spaces that are quintessentially Princeton. I found one just before leaving for winter break in East Pyne, an academic building, where there is a comfy chair and a beautiful stained glass window of the Princeton shield. I am sure there are many more out there waiting to be discovered.

Briana Pagano '18

My Princeton resolution for the New Year is to attend more of the campus talks that pique my interest. On Dec. 1, I attended a lecture given by bestselling author Richard Preston: "The Hidden Worlds of Narrative Nonfiction."  As Preston read from his book, "The Wild Trees," and recounted daring tales of himself scaling 300-foot redwoods in search of a story, I found myself enthralled and inspired. One of the few students among a sea of grey hair, I promised myself in that moment to take better advantage of the endless hidden wonders Princeton has to offer.

Avaneesh Narla '17

As my time here comes to an end, I have been reflecting a lot on my Princeton experience. I do believe that I have challenged myself academically, and hope to continue doing so in the future. However, before I leave, I want to strengthen the relationships I have made, and seek out new ones among people that I don't ordinarily run into.

Peyton Lawrenz '19

Next semester, I'd like to prioritize forming strong relationships with my new professors! Princeton professors are very open to hearing from their students and getting to know them. I have definitely made the effort to make sure that I get to know all of my professors in past semesters by going to their office hours and setting up appointments to discuss course material or continue conversations from class, but I'd like to take advantage of Princeton's Home Dining Program (aka bring your professor to a meal). Grab a professor, grab some food (for free), and get to know each other!  

 


Class of 2020: It’s the Moment You’ve Been Waiting For


Welcome To Princeton! You will hear this phrase at least 100 times when you first step on campus. So, for all of my class of 2020 readers, let me be one of the first of many to say congratulations and welcome to Princeton. I am super excited to meet you and can’t wait to get to know each and every one of you. I wanted to take this opportunity to offer a bit of insight into the unique Princeton Orientation experience.  Princeton’s academic calendar is very different from other schools, and because of this, we are able to have an extensive orientation program focused just on our freshmen.

Orientation includes many different components to help facilitate some of your first days on campus. There are activities set to teach you about Princeton culture and history, times to ask juniors and seniors questions about their experiences, opportunities to reflect upon where you came from and where you see yourself going, and of course, moments to hang out and create friendships and experience Princeton for everything that it has to offer.  

This year, Princeton is offering three orientation programs. The first is Outdoor Action (OA), which consists of a weeklong outdoor experience. This could be a biking, canoeing, backpacking, camping, or some other outdoor adventure. (I am an OA leader, so if any of you lovely readers happen to be in my group, bonus points if you mention you read this blog post!) The second program is Community Action (CA), which consists of a weeklong community service experience. As part of CA, you could be volunteering at a soup kitchen, painting murals in the park, planting in a community farm, tutoring, or doing some other fun activity with your new Princeton friends. The third program is designed for fall student-athletes. In this orientation program, students will remain on campus and train with their teams, while still getting that same personal reflection and community-building experience.

In addition to these exciting trips and experiences, as another part of orientation, freshmen will have the opportunity to get to know their "Z-groups," which is short for "advisee." This group, run by a student residential college adviser, brings together students who live near one another in their residential college. They will discuss Pre-read, the book assigned to the entering students of the Class of 2020, and become acquainted with special Princeton traditions (start thinking of your favorite songs to sing at Step Sing). And, of course, they will start making those life-long friends everyone talks about when they mention college.

So, Class of 2020, get excited about Orientation. Are you ready?  


A Love Letter to Princeton in the Snow


One of the things I was most looking forward to when I committed to Princeton was experiencing the four seasons. Although it doesn’t snow too frequently during the school year, the few days that it does each winter are always some of my favorites.

My first time seeing snow was the spring of my freshman year when my roommate and I stayed up later than we meant to. We lost track of time working on our assignments, which meant that by the time the big snow storm of the season rolled in at two in the morning, we were awake to greet it. I remember opening the window of our small dorm room and feeling the cold air and snowflakes hit my outstretched hand. It wasn’t long before my roommate and I were rushing out the door bundled up in our coats and scarves. We walked around leaving some of the first footprints in the snow until the intensity of the snowfall got to be too much.

In the past week, I’ve gotten to experience a snow-covered campus once again. Ready to walk back to my dorm after an evening of catching up with my close friends, I stepped out to a peaceful snowscape. Because we were leaving at the same time, my friend Tara and I stood there in silence together for a few moments, taking it all in.

Snowy landscape

 

We turned to each other with big smiles on our faces—want to go for a walk?

It was three or four hours past my usual bedtime, but I couldn’t pass the opportunity up as I looked back at how special it had felt to leave behind my footprints on untouched snow two years prior. So, we split ways to layer up more and eventually met up near Whitman College. Residential colleges at Princeton often let students borrow sleds on snowy days, so when we saw a few of them laying around in the snow at the bottom of the “hill” near Whitman, we quickly grabbed them and rushed to the top. Of course, I’d never gone sledding before, but after a quick “How to Go Sledding” Google search (not our brightest moment), we were off.

A great item to add to any Princeton bucket list, by the way, even if I did fall out of my sled twice.

Two students smiling and sitting on two sleds

One short, two-person snowball fight later, we finally went on the walk we initially intended on taking. At Nassau Hall, we made a small snowman next to the iconic tigers, even though our hands were going numb and my hair was getting absolutely soaked. We waved goodbye to our snowman, whom we affectionately named Jerry, and made our way back to our dorms, chatting about everything and nothing all at once.

There’s something eerily beautiful about how silent campus is when it’s snowing in the middle of the night. With how chaotic this semester has been, this nighttime snow was the relief that we needed, and the sort of night I’ll be thinking about fondly long after I’ve left Princeton.


The Humanities Sequence Trip in Sicily, Italy


This winter break, I had the opportunity to travel to Sicily, Italy with a group of students who all took the Humanities Sequence (HUM Sequence for short) in our freshman year. The HUM Sequence is a one year course that explores around 50 seminal texts from the Western literary canon from as Homer’s Iliad to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The course typically starts off with 60 students, and rotates between 12 total professors from different departments. Upon completion of two semesters of HUM, students have the option to partake in a university-funded trip in two different locations — the choice this year being either Greece or Sicily. I chose Sicily because it was a part of Italy I had never visited before — and because I love Italian food!

After a grueling 24 hours of travel from my hometown of Sydney, Australia, I arrived in Sicily’s capital, Palermo. From there, the group embarked on a trip through time, moving from the ancient to modern. We first headed to the ancient city of Segesta, and saw a Doric temple (a Greek-style temple that has an unembellished and simple design, especially in relation to columns) that was immaculately preserved, likely as it was never actually finished due to war. We then went to the city of Agrigento, where we viewed The Valley of the Temples, home to sites like the monumental Temple of Zeus and a bronze Statue of Icarus.

We continued on our trip by visiting Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site decorated with vibrant and mosaics; a medieval castle carved on the side of a windy rock face called Castello Sperlinga; Villa Palagonia, a beautiful Baroque mansion filled with grotesque and beastly statues. When we arrived back in Palermo, we toured ruinous Norman castles, gold and mosaic-covered Cathedrals with Byzantine, Arab and Classical inspiration, and dressed up for a rendition of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in Palermo’s Teatro Massimo. Throughout these nine days, I loved learning about Sicily’s history and how it has become a “melted pot” of different cultures and traditions. 

Not only did we get to see and explore Sicily’s culture, we also got a chance to taste it too. Sicily is known for its cannoli (which consists of a crispy outer shell and a creamy ricotta filling), granita (a refreshing ice dessert), and its arancini (fried rice balls). Whilst we got to try all these dishes, and other sorts of pizzas, and mains, one restaurant experience sticks in my mind. For one of our lunches in Palermo, we were treated to a decadent charcuterie spread of sweet honey, crunchy bread, three types of meat, and five types of soft, sharp, and hard cheese — only as a starter. We then had a plate of pomodoro pasta, a massive rotisserie chicken thigh accompanied with a mound of fries, and tiramisu, to top it all off. This absurd meal experience lasted about two hours — and so did most of our meals on this trip!

Beyond planned activities, we also got some free time to explore by ourselves. I loved sketching Sicily’s unique flora–such as cacti, eucalyptus, orange trees, and more–with my friend, window shopping citrus perfumes and souvenirs, feeling the cool ocean breeze on my face when we went down to a pier in Palermo, and ordering a cappuccino at a crowded cafe.

When it was time to leave, I was genuinely shocked at how quickly time had passed by this trip. Coming back to Princeton, I reflected on how none of this would have happened if I had not mustered up the courage to sign up for a year-long humanities course even before the start of freshman year. None of this would have happened had I let my doubts about my unfamiliarity with the course content and fears of getting bad grades hold me back. For all those thinking of applying to Princeton and even the HUM Sequence, I say: take the risk! Who knows, one day you might end up strolling down the roads of Sicily, breathing in the aroma of street food, and listening to the hustle and bustle of street buskers.


‘Música, Maestro!’ A Semester of Musical Exploration with Sinfonia


Before coming to Princeton, I was worried about the uncertainty of my musical journey after high-school. Would I be able to take lessons? Would I definitely need to abandon music? These questions didn’t stop me from bringing my beloved flute to campus though. And I don’t regret that decision. As soon as I stepped on campus, I was immediately surrounded by endless opportunities to continue pursuing my passion for music. For instance, thanks to Princeton’s music department, I have had the opportunity to take free individual flute lessons with Dr. Shin (the best professor I have had in my career.)  Princeton University boasts a rich musical landscape with a wide range of ensembles and performance opportunities. The campus echoes with the sounds of various genres: chamber music, jazz ensembles, bands… the options are endless, allowing students to continually expand our horizons.

Being a member of Princeton University’s Sinfonia Orchestra has been one of the highlights of my musical experience. Whether it is performing Dvroak’s 8th Symphony to in Richardson Auditorium or practicing Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” in the Lewis Center for the Arts, I have found myself immersed in a vibrant community that resonated with passion, camaraderie, and boundless musical exploration. I have also found some of my closest friends in Sinfonia. 

One of the most captivating aspects of my time with Sinfonia has been the opportunity to explore a rich tapestry of music styles. From the classical brilliance of Mozart to the enchantment of our own students’ compositions, each piece we played brought new challenges and joys. It's a musical kaleidoscope that allows us to stretch our artistic boundaries and appreciate the beauty of diverse compositions. Additionally, I had the chance to perform alongside my flute professor. Playing Mozart's flute concerto under her guidance was not only an honor but a testament to the mentorship and collaborative spirit that defines Sinfonia. These experiences transcend the classroom, providing an enriched learning environment that extends beyond the notes on the score. Sinfonia has provided me with a sanctuary where I can momentarily disconnect from academics. The rehearsals are a space where I can immerse myself in the language of music, sharing an unspoken bond that transcends words. It's a collective exploration of self-expression, where I learn more about myself and my peers through the universal language of music.

Through the weekly rehearsals, concerts, the occasional pizza parties, and the post-rehearsal snacks that have become our unofficial tradition, Sinfonia has evolved into something more than just an orchestra for me. Beyond the musical scores, the shared jokes, the highs and lows of tackling challenging pieces, and the collective joy after a successful performance have made Sinfonia a welcoming family of diverse musicians and music enthusiasts and an integral part of my college experience. 


Do Dreams Come True?: My Princeton Experience


As an entering Sophomore at Princeton University, I cannot help but reflect back on my freshman year and the absolute awe that followed my arrival on campus. It felt like a dream come true. However as I reread my journal today, two particular entries reminded me of how my dream to of Princeton has evolved into my reality as a student. Like many high schoolers, Princeton initially was a dream come true. But I soon realized that Princeton placed me in an exhilarating environment with beyond talented individuals, challenging academics, and inspiring opportunities. Princeton turned out to be much more than I had dreamed of. 

October 12th, 2022: 

Every time I walk past Blair Arch, I remember that I’m literally living out my dream of going to an Ivy League [school]. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The odds were not in my favor. The acceptance rates are so small. Yet here I am. I never thought much of that, but now I realize how momentous it is! “

A month into school, and I am very clearly enamored with the “idea” of Princeton. 

March 22nd, 2023:

“I got an iced coffee at Campus Club today. The weather is still cold outside, and the crisp air kindly reminds me every morning that I live on the East Coast rather than Texas. The old wooden doors of Campus Club welcomed me in as I ordered an iced coffee. As I sat down, I found it odd that I’m currently sitting inside an old mansion: the only way I can truly describe eating clubs to my friends back home. Dark wood frames the diamond patterned windows, and I feel cozy inside here. The room is quietly bustling with student activity, and I eavesdrop on other students discussing math and physics. I observe the room around me, wondering what's happened in this room, a room with 100+ years of history. It’s odd that this room used to only occupy men, and now here I am, occupying this space. Drinking my coffee, a young woman, bright and curious, diving into my electrical engineering homework. “

By my second semester, I found a more accurate dream of Princeton. I recognized the privilege of this education on a deeper level. Princeton is not just a name or the face of our iconic Blair Arch, is a school with complex history. I take pride in being a woman in STEM, continually contributing to Princeton’s history--while drinking coffee in Campus Club. Since my first year here, I’ve realized that my dream of going to an Ivy League school has not really come true. As a woman in STEM, in an amazing academic environment, rich with history, I've been given a spot. I believe my dream has just started
 


Spring 2024 Street Week Diaries: Black, Religious, and Low Income


Winter has a funny way of feeling like fall right about now.

 

I think it’s just new-semester weather:

 

The brisk mornings give way to trees that snap in the wind.

 

The sun is out, and students study outdoors in brightly-colored lawn chairs.

 

After a winter break that rid campus of most signs of life, it is once again teeming with activity.

 

Returning to campus, I made the decision to look into joining an eating club. Here’s a diary snapshot of what my experience has been like:

 

What is Street Week?

Well, first, what is an eating club? 

Eating clubs are honestly a Princeton social construct. Think of a co-ed social group (not unlike a frat or sorority) except it also doubles as a dining hall for many upperclassmen.

Street week is a series of events tailored towards recruiting new members to join an eating club. Some clubs require you to undergo a process called bicker (the equivalent of rushing a sorority/fraternity) and some allow you to sign-in and join based on a lottery system.

 

Why Am I Participating?

Since returning from study abroad, I’ve felt disconnected from the other juniors on campus. Last semester, I was independent–meaning I cooked my own meals. As a result, I also ate on my own.

As my time starts to feel more limited, I want to spend less time on cooking while having more structured opportunities to reconnect with friends.

 

The Perils of the Street

In a way, the Street (where all the eating clubs are) is a fraught place. 

As someone who wears the hijab and does not drink, I often have to choose which activities to sit out of and how I want to show up on the dance floor. 

As a person of color, the Street is a place that confronts me with the predominantly white nature of Princeton. (Who is looking for the pretty Black girls on the Street?)

Throughout my experience of Street week, I continuously need to ask the clubs I’m visiting about their financial aid policies. The crux of my decision is reduced into a math problem: do I want to make friends or do I want to save money?

 

Hopes 

I have found my conversations with club members to be less draining than I thought they would be. I have been trying to be myself, whatever that means. 

I don’t know if I’ll get into an eating club, and that’s okay.

I let my identities prevent me from exploring the street for so long, so this is me trying to put myself out there. This is me being open to the experience. 
 


Embrace, Explore, and Excel: Navigating the Adventures of Princeton's Wintersession


As my plane touched down in New York City after a blissful winter break back home in Barcelona, where snow is very rare, the anticipation of experiencing my first snowfall at Princeton was palpable. The air was chilly, and the landscape was blanketed in a pristine layer of snow, transforming the campus into a winter wonderland.

Reconnecting with friends became an exhilarating adventure as we navigated the snowy paths, sharing stories of our travels and catching up on the latest happenings. Whitman College became our playground as we seized the opportunity to sled down its slopes, the laughter echoing through the frosty air. I also got to do my first ever snow angel; a spontaneous creation on the glistening canvas of white. The pristine snow became a symbol of the fresh start that awaited me in the upcoming semester.

However, my early comeback was to experience and participate in Princeton’s Wintersession, which is an oasis of possibilities and trove of experiences. Leading a group to Broadway to witness the amazing performance of "The Lion King" was a highlight, immersing us in the magic of live theater. Indoor skydiving and go-karting injected doses of adrenaline, pushing us beyond our comfort zones and forging unforgettable bonds. Watching “Carmen” at The Metropolitan Opera was a captivating experience that broadened my artistic horizons. Finally, Wintersession's diverse workshops, from drawing and crocheting to sketchbooking, offered a canvas for self-discovery and creativity.

What sets Wintersession apart is its unique ability to kindle passions, both old and new. The sessions are not merely a collection of activities, but a communal journey of exploration. Meeting fellow students with similar interests and diverse backgrounds added a dynamic layer to the experience, turning each event into a shared adventure.

Princeton's commitment to fostering this community spirit is evident in its generosity. The funding support provided by the university allows students to propose and lead their own sessions. This inclusivity ensures that everyone, like myself, can contribute ideas and actively participate in shaping the Wintersession landscape.

Wintersession at Princeton is a celebration of curiosity; a tapestry woven with the threads of exploration and camaraderie. It's not just an interlude between semesters; it's a transformative experience that beckons you to embrace the unexpected, reconnect with your passions, and forge connections that will last a lifetime.


The Last First Day


A chilly morning in late January, with gray but otherwise clear skies, marked the first day of classes of the spring semester. For the class of 2024, this first day was particularly special, as it was our LFDOC (last first day of classes). There is always a photographer on McCosh walk at the beginning of each semester to take FDOC photos, but our class government organized a special session with a unique poster to celebrate the particularly significant LFDOC.

This is indeed my last first day of undergraduate classes, but it's not quite the end, since I will continue to have first days of classes as a graduate student. Even when I'm no longer a student, though, there will continue to be first days: a first day at a new job, followed by a first day in a new position, and then a first day at a new institution or company. There are first days outside of career as well, like your first day in a new apartment or first day in a new city. While the LFDOC marks the end of the student era of your life, there will continue to be first days, in one form or another, throughout life.

To me, it is reassuring to know that there will continually be opportunities for fresh starts throughout my professional and personal lives. A new beginning signals a chance to break out of a particular rhythm, shake up your routine, and learn new habits. It's a chance to meet new people, learn new strategies and information, and expand your horizons of what you're capable of. Some aspects of a new role will be improvements from before, maybe a better schedule or more independence, while others will be less welcome, like a longer commute or a difficult boss. The novelty of the new challenges, though, is exciting in and of itself, and you may surprise yourself in your ability to handle the elements that are more difficult than those in your previous position. There is always hope for the future when you know that things can change over time, and that there can always be another first day.

Huzzah for the LFDOC, and here's to an auspicious start to the last semester!

Two students smiling and standing holding LFDOC banner


Coming Back Home, Princeton That Is!


Princeton is a magical place. Yes, it is academically challenging and a break is nice, but there is something special about being back on campus after a long time away.

Princeton’s winter break is long--about a whole month off. Many of my friends from back home only have a few weeks to relax, and they return to school much sooner than I do. This is partially due to our academic calendars not aligning, but regardless by the end of break I feel like I’ve been away from Princeton forever. Now don’t get me wrong, this break is well deserved, but you truly start to miss the best old place of all.

Coming back to campus after winter break is a wonderful experience. In college, campus becomes your home – or rather, home away from home. The longer you are away, the more you miss it. Seeing your Princeton friends again and catching up is super exciting and fun! Hearing about their adventures like traveling to Iceland, interning for a senator, or just catching up on sleep, you never know what you are going to hear.

Another exciting aspect about coming back to campus is preparing for the new semester’s classes. By the time I get back, I have almost forgotten what classes I’ve signed up to take in the spring semester. Looking over what I chose again strangely brings me joy. Princeton has such a diverse and wide variety of classes, so there is something exciting for everyone. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment with how busy you may be at school, so the new year and new semester after a nice break allows for a period of reflection. Looking back at the fall semester and evaluating what went well and what didn’t go so well is super important. Setting up a game plan for the spring is both fun and rewarding. I personally look forward to trying to write out my notes instead of typing them – we’ll see which works best!

In all, coming back to Princeton after the winter break is a wonderful experience. The longer you are out of the Orange Bubble, the more you miss it (no wonder Reunions are such a hit). From catching up with friends, enjoying the architecture/ campus, to planning for the semester and picking out that first day outfit, it feels good to be back home – Princeton that is!