A Guide to Grocery Shopping for "Independents"


Princeton dining options expand greatly at the beginning of junior year. All first-years and sophomores are required to be on the University unlimited meal plan, meaning they dine at any of the residential college dining halls. Beginning junior year, students are no longer required to be on the meal plan and can select from several options: joining an eating club, joining a co-op, staying on the meal plan or becoming an "independent."

An "independent" is Princeton-speak for someone who is not on a University meal plan nor a member of an eating club or co-op. There are a number of reasons for choosing to be an independent, from not wanting to pay eating club dues or meal plan fees to simply wanting to cook for yourself. I live off-campus and have my own tiny kitchen in which I love to prepare my own food, so becoming an "independent" was definitely the best choice for me. 

What options are there for grocery shopping and eating out for independents? My favorite grocery store is Whole Earth Center, a hippie-granola type place that sells fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, prepared foods and other interesting healthy finds (I recently bought some sort of strange-looking kale and goji berry crackers). Whole Earth is located about a 10 minute walk from the Engineering Quad (E-quad), so it's incredibly convenient for me. They also give a $1 bike discount if you ride your bike.

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The front of Whole Earth Center grocery store

Another grocery store I frequent is McCaffrey's, which is a more standard grocery store. McCaffrey's is larger than Whole Earth and has a greater selection of items, but in my opinion the produce section at Whole Earth is superior in terms of quality and price. McCaffrey's is a little farther than Whole Earth Center (about a 20 minute walk from the E-quad, between 5 and 10 minutes on a bike), but is still easily accessible.

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Front of McCaffrey's grocery store

On every other Thursday in the winter and every Thursday in the fall and summer, the Princeton Farmers' Market brings together local vendors of fruits, vegetables, breads, nut butters and baked goods. The summer market is held in the parking lot of the Dinky train station, right near Forbes College. I would highly recommend New Jersey strawberries if you're on campus during their peak June season.

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herbs and flower display at Princeton Farmer's Market

There's also the Weekend Shopper, which is a bus that runs throughout the day on the weekends to the shopping center on Route 1 that has a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's. 

Regarding eating out, there are a number of affordable restaurants in Princeton to eat or get takeout. My favorite restaurant is Arlee's Raw Blends, where they make fantastic wraps that I'll grab when I don't feel like cooking. Some other student favorites include Planted Plate (a vegan restaurant), Jule's Pizza (flatbread pizza), Tacoria (tacos and burritos), and Nassau Street Seafood (fish and chips).

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Store front of Arlee's Raw Blends

It should also be noted that all Princeton students get two meal swipes per week. Overall, I find that there are a number of great options for independents to eat, and I would encourage anyone who likes to cook to consider it.

 


Breaking Out of Princeton: Spring Break in NYC


Going to college thousands of miles from home is always both exciting and stressful. However, I found this statement to be especially true during breaks. Often, shorter breaks (like Thanksgiving, fall break and spring break) can seem too short for a trip home to be worthwhile, or even possible. My first year, going home just was not an option for me. Fortunately, Princeton allows many of its students to stay on campus during short breaks. So I never had to worry about access to housing or food during those times. For those who decide to, staying on campus during breaks can be rejuvenating. It is a chance to experience Princeton without the hectic life of being a student, dining hall crowds and (sometimes boring) early morning lectures. It can be a chance to make new connections and catch up on overdue assignments and dining hall dates. That said, for those seeking thrills and excitement, Princeton also offers a number of alternative break plans run by various departments and clubs on campus. These opportunities range from trips to see live Broadway shows or go restaurant hopping in New York City, to free boxing workshops, to class-sponsored trips within the United States or abroad and much more. For my spring break, I spent a week in NYC and it was genuinely one of my best experiences so far as a Princeton student.

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5 students posing for a photo in front of a restaurant
Last day in NYC with the group! 

I was part of a cohort of students who spent the week in NYC learning about immigration to the city through the lens of food. The trip was organized by the PACE Center, which is the department that manages most of the service-related initiatives for the University. During this week, along with a group of five Princeton students and a staff member, I engaged in conversations with community leaders in Brooklyn and the Bronx about the journeys of refugees in NYC and the role that food and the restaurant industry play in their experiences. I was also able to socialize with and befriend other Princeton students, many of whom I had never met before. Moreover, I was able to live in NYC for five days and eat quality New York food… For free!

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Bowl of stew in shallow bowl on table
Our meal from Emma’s Torch, a nonprofit that prepares immigrants to enter the workforce.

I enjoyed the opportunity this Breakout Trip gave me to branch out and learn more about nearby communities and the challenges their residents can face. Princeton is not huge, but it is certainly big and busy enough to make you forget about the outside world if the intentionality to get out of the "bubble" is lacking. Our supervisor, Geralyn Williams, also made sure we learned about the most effective ways to approach service beyond our spring trip. We learned about empowering and contributing to established initiatives put in place by the locals rather than one centered on saviorism. Additionally, this trip provided me with many opportunities to reflect on how I might pursue my dedication to service in a way that truly serves others while respecting their own resourcefulness and commitment. I gained new insights into the worlds of social work, immigration law and human rights, all of which are areas that interest me deeply. I also had the opportunity to engage with social workers and CEOs of nonprofits and social enterprises and learn about their daily responsibilities, their challenges and the impact they have or aspire to. Following these conversations, I always felt deeply inspired.

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Man holding chicken in farm building
Meet Poulette whom I met in an Urban Farm.

When I returned to Princeton, I felt that my sense of purpose had been redefined and sharpened. I felt more confident entering my classes and engaging in my extracurricular activities knowing that what I was learning was going to help prepare me for the life and career I desire. Even during my break time, Princeton accompanied me in my personal journey and it felt incredibly reassuring. In the days following this trip I had a heightened sense of awareness--I felt I was at the right place.


Did You Say Free Food?


The other day, I was writing my Spanish homework in my room when my roommate, Jose, who was taking a nap, woke up suddenly. He then looked at the screen of his phone and quickly got up from his bed, letting out a sigh that denoted his distress:

Late meal is almost over, he said nervously as he rushed out of the room.

Confused, I stared at him from over my computer. I never understood his obsession with late meal. Late meal is a term used to describe an option offered by Campus Dining to students enrolled in the meal plan. Essentially, each student has access to two $8 credits: one for late lunch and another for late dinner. Technically, it’s meant for students who miss regular dining hours in the cafeterias because of classes or meetings. Late meal prevents them from starving. However, the way my roommate religiously got late meal seemed unusual (or so I thought) and left me deeply puzzled. For some context, Frist (where late meal is served) is located around 12 minutes away from Forbes (our Res College). Yet, he would sometimes purposely skip dining hall meals to go to Frist, braving the cold winter night. Worse: sometimes he would first eat at Forbes, and later, go for doubles at late meal! Seriously, why so much dedication? That day, I decided to elucidate that mystery and ask him point-blank what was up with him after he had gotten his meal.

Jose came back one hour later. I didn't even let him unwrap his chicken quesadilla and fries: I instantly bombarded him with the question that had been tormenting me to the point that I had been unable to focus on my assignment.

Why do you go through so much trouble for late meal? I asked.

He stared back at me, deeply offended by my question. "How dare you?" his face flushed with indignation. He asked as though he was too obfuscated to even utter a word.  My question seemed to have troubled him to his core. It was 50 degrees inside yet he was sweating profusely. He stared at me a little longer, trying to figure out if I was serious and whether I deserved an answer. He took off his coat while I stood still, waiting impatiently for his answer. Finally, he enlightened me on the foundation of his obsession.

That night, he unraveled the mystery of his love for late meal. At that time, everything seemed to come together. It all made sense. 

Jose first confided in me that he was often not hungry during the usual opening hours of the cafeterias so he preferred to wait until late meal, when he was sure he would be starving. Additionally, the consistency of Frist's menu assured him he would like what he ordered. He also had more choices. Whether he got a quesadilla, a burger, sushi, chicken tenders, fries or onion rings… he knew he would never be disappointed. He would sometimes be pleasantly surprised with a new addition to the menu: spring rolls, dumplings or pizza. Some days, when he just wanted to snack or grab something to take home for the night to help him push through his intense two o'clock reading sessions, he would only grab a bag of chips, chocolate chip cookies and a muffin. If that day he felt like eating healthily, he would grab a box of green grapes and one fresh banana. As long as the total was under 8 dollars: he could have them all. For free! Finally, and perhaps the main reason for his obsession, was that late meal was a unique opportunity to socialize.  Frist is already the center of student life at Princeton.  On a normal day, you find student groups promoting their dance shows, aspiring engineers working on P-sets together, Philosophy majors conversing about the meaning of life or Econ majors playing table tennis or billiards... etc. Add food to the combo and you have the exciting, vibrant and engaging environment of late meal. For Jose, late meal is one of the best things about Princeton!

 

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Students hanging out in Frist South Lawn after lunch late meal.


After that conversation, I never again saw late meal the same way. My life truly changed. Forever. And my eating schedule as well!


A Day In the Life of an East Asian Studies Concentrator


I thought I would share what a day in my life looks like when I have a packed schedule of extracurriculars, socializing and schoolwork! 

7:45 a.m.

I don’t normally wake up this early, but I have a lot of morning classes this semester so I take the time to get breakfast and study for my Japanese quiz!

 

8:30 a.m.

My first class of the day is “Introduction  to Digital Humanities,” which is the class I am taking for my Quantitative and Computational Reasoning distribution requirement, even though it’s an English class! We’re learning about the intersection of digital media and the humanities, and I love how I am able to take a wide range of non-conventional classes to fulfill my distribution requirements.

 

10:00 a.m.

My second class is Japanese, of which I am in my second year. Starting a new language at Princeton is undoubtedly a challenge, as classes meet every day, but each class is structured around time for grammar, speaking, and writing practice, which makes all the hours you have to put in worth it. 

 

11:00 a.m.

I then head over to do work in the eating club I’m a member of, where I am supposed to meet a friend for lunch and study together after. As a sophomore, we get two meals per week at our eating club, which is a great way to integrate ourselves into a community we will soon be fully immersed in next semester. Each eating club at Princeton has its own library, so I just did readings for my seminar later today there. 

 

1:30 p.m.

I had my final class of the day, “Everyday Life in Mao’s China.” This is my favorite class this semester, where we are taking a ground-level view of how the lives of everyday people were impacted by the various changes during the Mao era. Seminars at Princeton are usually three hours long with around fifteen people, though mine is capped at nineteen because so many people were interested in taking it. 

 

4:30 p.m.

I went to Coffee Club, a student run cafe located in Campus Club to grab coffee with a friend and work on my Japanese homework. Coffee Club has new seasonal drinks every month or so, so I got to try their lavender latte (last month they had raspberry matcha as a specialty). 

 

6:00 p.m.

Dinner time! I went to dinner at my eating club, where every Thursday night is a member’s night. I got to sit with my friends and catch up on what they did over spring break while also meeting seniors in the club I had never met before. 

 

9:00 p.m.

My a cappella group was performing at a show for Princeton’s East Asian dance company, Triple 8, so we met near the dressing room at the theater to rehearse beforehand. 

 

10:00 p.m.

After my performance, I went back to Firestone Library, my favorite library, to do work. I normally leave the library around midnight and go straight to sleep. 


The Holiday Season at Princeton


I’m a bit obsessed with the holiday season...catch me on #holidaytok for sure. My family puts up our Christmas tree immediately after Halloween (November 1, to be specific). During that first week, all of the fall decor comes down and the holiday decor goes up: snowflake gels pressed onto the windows, gold lights strung across the trees, toy reindeer and “let it snow” signs stacked on the kitchen island. After we connect our holiday music to the house sound system, we’ve basically transformed into the North Pole in the middle of N.J. 

Given how whole-heartedly we celebrate the holidays at home, when I was a first-year at Princeton, I remember missing the rush to decorate and sing Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me.” It felt strange to not set up a tree after Halloween, and I started longing for spaces where I could get into the holiday spirit. Over the past few years, I’ve found many ways to satisfy my Christmas music cravings and decor instincts. If you’re also on #holidaytok, check out some of the ways that I like to celebrate at Princeton throughout November and December!

Mini Tree 

It’s a pink Christmas! This year, I bought a 4-foot pink tree to decorate in my dorm room. It was super easy to set up and a quick find on Amazon. I used a bunch of my ornaments from home so that I could feel like I was in my own house around the holidays. I plan to put all of my gifts for friends and family before break under the tree so it’ll be extra festive. 

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Pink Christmas tree with ornaments and stuffed animals underneath

PSEC’s WinterFest

As a Program Chair of the Princeton Student Events Committee (PSEC), I’m involved in planning school-wide events that function as study breaks and fun outings with friends. One of our annual events is WinterFest, where you can make holiday stuffed animals and winter crafts, take photos with winter backdrops, and eat yummy food like pies, latkes, cheesecake bites and so much more. It’s literally a huge food buffet in the middle of Frist Campus Center.

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Pies, crackers, cupcakes 

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Stuffed animals: bears, snowman, deer

Starbucks Holiday Drinks

While there are a ton of places to get coffee on campus, I can’t resist the Starbucks holiday drinks. And since we’re lucky to have a Starbucks right on Nassau Street (literally right across the street from campus), I’ll often pop in for something festive. 

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Starbucks holiday drink with a University building in the background

Palmer Square Lights & Tree

Every year, Palmer Square (a shopping & dining area walking distance from campus) decorates one of their biggest trees with beautiful rainbow lights. It’s a tradition to take photos in front of the tree! The whole surrounding area is also decorated with tons of gold lights that always remind me of the ones my family has at home. 

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Mia in Palmer Square surrounded by holiday lights

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Christmas tree lit up in Palmer Square

Cannon Club Tree Decorating 

My eating club Cannon also has its own holiday events and food. I especially love decorating the tree-- if you couldn’t tell by now, I’m really into Christmas trees. We drink hot chocolate, eat cookies and blast holiday music together. 

Cheer Holiday Practice 

Princeton Cheer always has its own holiday practice, where we dress up in holiday outfits and play fun games. Typically our coach will bring hot chocolate and desserts, and we’ll split up into teams to compete in a bunch of challenges. 

Secret Santas 

Secret Santas are one of my favorite parts about being on campus during December. My family never did Secret Santas growing up, so this is a bit of a new tradition I’ve started at Princeton. Each year I participate/organize multiple Secret Santas with clubs and teams that I’m a part of. It’s so fun to meet up with friends and exchange presents. 

 

Not only does Princeton look absolutely magical in the snow, but it has a lot to offer when it comes to all things winter and holidays. Of course, I look forward to winter break at home with my family, but I now get equally excited for the holiday season at school! 


5 Must-Know Campus Buildings


The quaint Princeton campus is far from overwhelming, but it does have around 200 buildings. When you first arrive on campus, how do you choose the ones to locate and explore first? To help, I've assembled a list of what I see as the five essential buildings to familiarize yourself within your first few days at Princeton. These buildings are likely to play a central role in your campus life, and as the semester progresses you can gradually visit at least a fraction of the remaining 195.

1. Frist Campus Center

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Stone steps and statues outside of Frist Campus Center

Frist Campus Center, with its central location just off of Washington Road, is the hub of campus life. It's where you pick up your mail and packages, get "late meal" if you miss the dining halls' lunch or dinner hours, and attend events like Flu Fest (for a flu shot) and club meetings. Frist isn't quiet like a library, so it's also a common spot for study groups to meet to collaborate on problem sets and projects.

2. The University Store

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bicycles parked outside of university store, with Blair Arch in background

The U-Store, close to Blair Arch, is a convenience store located right on campus. It sells snacks, cleaning products, toiletries and school supplies, and is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. When you realize your calculator batteries are dead or that you're out of shampoo, the U-Store is the place to go.

3. Firestone Library

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Exterior of Firestone Library

There are many libraries on Princeton's campus (Engineering Library, Plasma Physics Library, East Asian Library, Lewis Science Library, to name a few), but Firestone is the principal home of books and special collections. You can visit Firestone to study or browse, and it's also where you'll pick up books requested through the digital catalogue.

4. Dillon Gym

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Exterior of Dillon Gym

Dillon Gym is where to go to destress with a workout. Inside you'll find the Stephens Fitness Center, which has cardio and weight machines, as well as several basketball courts and the Dillon Pool. Each week Dillon has a number of group fitness classes to offer, like yoga, spinning, and Zumba, that are free to Princeton students, so you can stop by Dillon for either an individual or group workout.

5. Your Favorite Dining Hall

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Vegetables in the servery of Whitman dining hall

Princeton has six residential college dining halls, and you can check the menus online ahead of time to see what each one is offering in the upcoming week. You may find that one dining hall consistently offers your favorite meal, or you might just prefer the ambiance and lighting of one dining hall over the others'. For me, I'm partial to Whitman's dining hall, because they always have a fantastic salad bar at lunch and dinner with greens and hummus. 

These places are important to almost every student, but everyone finds their personal favorite spaces to study and socialize. For me, there's a spot in the E-quad lobby by the printer where I like to study before class. I still have many places to get to know, though, if I hope to visit even half of the 200 buildings!


My Favorite Fall Festivities


Princeton is a beautiful place every time of year, but it really comes alive in the fall (you’ll definitely see fall pics on my IG story). But beyond the beauty, there’s also a lot of fun things to do on campus. Fall is honestly my favorite season on campus because there are tons of exciting things happening beyond the start of classes. So here are some of my go-to fall treats and activities at Princeton! 

 

Get hot chocolate at Small World

This is my FAVORITE hot chocolate on campus. It’s chocolatey, but not too rich and it comes with whipped cream on top. You can order it either at Small World in town or at Frist Campus Center (our student center). 

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Small World Coffee store front

Stock up on Reese's pumpkins and ghosts at Wawa

This could be just a me thing, but I’m obsessed with the Reese's shapes. They are limited time only!! The ratio of peanut butter to chocolate is way better...that extra peanut butter definitely hits different. 

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Reese's Pumpkins

Fill the stands at homecoming 

If you go to any football game in the fall, homecoming is the one to attend! We’re competing against Harvard and it’s going to be SO fun...and I’m not just giving you a biased opinion from a Princeton Cheerleader. Alumni come back, students crowd the stands, and there will be a whole lot of orange, black and school spirit! 

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Princeton stadium filled with fans wearing orange

Cheer on the football team

I’d also recommend (again in my unbiased Princeton Cheer opinion) going to ALL football games in the fall. Even if you just pop in for an hour or two with friends, it’s really fun to cheer on our Tigers and take a study break with friends. There are only about 4 home football games this year, so each one is going to be amazing. 

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Princeton Cheer pyramid

Go to Fall Fest by the Princeton Students Events Committee (PSEC) 

As a program chair on PSEC, I’ll be planning Fall Fest this year alongside other program chairs. This is an annual tradition where we have delicious fall treats and food trucks, fall DIY crafts, a pumpkin patch, games and more. It is a campus-wide event, so any student can stop by and join in on the fun. 

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Several students sitting around a table painting small pumpkins

Attend dance shows 

These typically happen in later fall/early winter, but they are CANNOT MISS events. These Princeton dance groups are simply incredible, and it’s always awesome to be able to see and support your friends on stage. I love watching diSiac, eXpressions and KoKo Pops because I have friends in those dance groups, but I try to go to as many as I can. 

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Student dancers, performing on stage

So there you have it, some of my favorite moments and a glimpse of student life at Princeton during the fall! 



 


Senior Year On Campus


It still doesn’t feel real that I’m a senior. I opted to stay home last spring, so this is my first time being back on campus since my sophomore year. Sure, my classes and activities went on virtually, but after being on campus for a few weeks, I’ve realized how much I’ve missed. It’s the little things that I took for granted before the pandemic: sitting next to someone in class, grabbing a croissant from the Tiger Tea Room, meeting up with friends for dinner etc. So as I head into my senior year, I thought I’d do a quick reflection on some of those little things: the things that make Princeton a special place to be. 

Eats & Treats

When I was home, I’d order food a lot or (attempt to) cook if my parents didn’t that night. But WOW did I forget how much food there is at Princeton. On the first day of classes, there were free bagels for breakfast on my walk to class, free coffee for seniors at Sakrid Coffee Roasters, and an ice cream truck near McCosh Hall that was giving away free ice cream treats! Beyond the abundance of free food on campus, my eating club Cannon also has (in my unbiased opinion) the BEST food on the street. Last night, I had a mashed potato bowl with chicken nuggets, corn, BBQ sauce and fried jalapenos. So eating at home wasn’t terrible, but I definitely took for granted all the amazing food at Princeton. 

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Variety of bagels in a basket

My Own Living Space

Finally, I feel like an adult again! Yes, I have my own room at home, but I don’t feel the same sense of independence that I do when I’m at school. During my first-year I had a triple, my sophomore year a double and now I have a single. I love my family, but it is refreshing to have my own living space again. Curious to see my room decor? I've been working on it since the photo below. Check out my TikTok @mia_salas333! 

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MIa's dorm room bed with a cluster of stuffed animals in the middle

Study Spots 

This is a BIG one, because in one house with my parents and two younger brothers, finding a good study spot isn’t always easy. And studying in the office or kitchen every day starts to feel really repetitive. When I got back on campus, I realized that I took all the many study spots for granted: B floor of Firestone Library, Lewis Center for the Arts seminar rooms, Frist Campus Center and more. I also forgot how inspiring it is to study with friends or even just around people. Studying at home often felt lonely, so I was reminded of just how social studying can be. 

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Firestone Library study space with rows of tables

Friends! All Day, Every Day 

I have a few friends who live near me at home, but I forgot how amazing it is to literally live walking distance away from so many people. I feel way more connected on campus because I can easily meet up with friends at cheer practice, for meals, to attend fun events like the Triangle Show and more. And it’s also a great feeling when I just run into people that I know on my walk to class or at my eating club. It makes me feel like I am a part of this community. 

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cheer team

So there you have it: a round up of little things that I missed from on-campus life at Princeton! I can’t wait to see what senior year has in store. 


Best Apps for Princetonians


Princetonians have developed many apps and websites to make the student life experience better. Here’s a roundup of some of the best apps all Princetonians should have.

TigerMenus

TigerMenus provides a simplified way to look at the menus at every dining hall. We have six amazing dining halls on campus, five associated with a residential college, as well as the kosher dining hall in the Center for Jewish Life. The dining halls all have unique, rotating menu options that this app allows you to check. I pick my meal destination based on which dining hall has the best menu while still being in a convenient location. Because it’s summer, only one dining hall is open, but here’s a preview of what a traditional menu looks like.

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The menu for Whitman College

ReCal

ReCal offers a user-friendly way to plan out your class schedule each semester. You can save different schedules to compare them and figure out which you like best. You can also export your class schedule directly to Google Calendar.

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Naomi's fall 2020 schedule

TigerPath

TigerPath also allows you to plan your schedule for all four years at once instead of just one semester. It also checks how far along you are in fulfilling general education distribution requirements and the requirements specific to your concentration.

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Naomi's four year plan on TigerPath

Student Room Guide

Student Room Guide includes floor plans for every dorm building so you can learn about the layout of your room and building. It also allows you to search for a room that might interest you for room draw by filtering by building, number of people, square feet and whether it’s substance-free or not.

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Map of campus in the Room Guide app

TigerSnatch

TigerSnatch is a brand new app that allows students to get notifications when a spot opens up in a class that used to be full. It’s often hard to get a spot in some of the more popular classes on campus, but hopefully this app will make it easier to check if there’s an opportunity to enroll as other students drop the class.

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Home page of TigerSnatch. It says: With TigerSnatch, Princeton Tigers can "subscribe" to full courses and sections and get notified via email when a spot frees up, saving time and stress during course enrollment.


The following are some apps made by people other than students that are also super helpful.

Speed Queen

Speed Queen allows you to check which washers and dryers are in use at any given time. It can also send notifications when your wash cycle is done.

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Bloomberg basement laundry room availability on Speed Queen

TigerSafe

TigerSafe has a lot of helpful features to keep students safe on campus. For the COVID-19 pandemic, the app links to our daily symptom check and the page where we scan our testing kits. It has a feature that allows you to share your location in real-time with a friend if you’re walking somewhere alone. TigerSafe also has information on what to do if you get locked out of your dorm.

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Home page of TigerSafe ap

There are of course many more apps made by Princeton students and beyond, this is only a small list. To explore other helpful apps by Princetonians, check out TigerApps, a student-run organization that maintains and supports student-developed web applications.


Being a Vegan at Princeton


If you are like me, you might be feeling a bit worried about what the dining experience is going to be like when you arrive at Princeton. As someone who is both vegan and can be just a “little” bit picky about the food I eat, I wondered if there was going to be anything at all I liked to eat in the dining hall and what I was going to do if there was nothing I could or wanted to eat.

Luckily, I quickly found that the dining experience at Princeton was very accommodating of all dietary restrictions and preferences. When it wasn’t, there were easy alternatives to make sure I still had yummy foods to keep myself nourished and happy during my time at Princeton. While nobody will claim that the dining halls are a Michelin three-star, gourmet experience, in a non-Covid year, the diversity of food offered in the dining halls was impressive. For first year students, there are five different dining halls to pick from, with each catering to different dietary restrictions and preferences in different ways. For example, while the Butler/First dining hall is known for its delicious vegan salad bar, the RoMa (Rocky/Mathey) dining hall consistently has vegan pizza. Moreover, the Center for Jewish Life dining hall, which serves all Kosher food, serves vegetarian-only food options three to four days a week.

Moreover, if you ever find yourself in a dining hall that is not quite able to accommodate your dietary requirements or tastes, the dining staff are open to suggestions and looking to help you find a meal that will meet your needs, even if it has to be specially prepared. In addition, if you are looking for a specific type of food that you want to be stocked in the dining hall long term, it is easy to request. Not every request can be met, but the fact that the staff is willing to listen matters. So, instead of being constantly worried about whether or not I would be able to eat in the dining hall or if this would get in the way of my making new friends, eating at Princeton has often been a place where I was able to have delicious, fun and social meals. 

Despite all of this, there were still times when I felt like the food in the dining hall didn’t quite work out or where I just preferred to grab a quick bite on my own. I recommend having some staples in your room — the fixings for peanut butter and jelly, some cereal and milk, maybe some protein bars. Especially if you are a picky eater, it is simple and easy to have some dietary “back-ups” to have on hand . . . just in case the Princeton food doesn’t taste quite right on a given day. Outside of this, there are also plenty of delicious restaurants in town if you are looking for a special treat. With this in mind, there is no reason at all to feel worried about the food at Princeton — it will be another great element of your four amazing years at the university.