Having spent five years as a Princeton undergrad (I took a gap year during the pandemic), I consider myself somewhat of an expert on where to grab a quick bite or cup of coffee. Please enjoy my list of favorites!
Sakrid Coffee Roasters
Located just across from Rocky College at 20 Nassau Street, Sakrid is a popular place for students to study or meet up for a great coffee. Its nitro cold brew on draft is especially excellent, as are its cinnamon lattes!
Rojos is a small-batch, artisan coffee shop located in Palmer Square. It is devoted to maintaining relationships with independent producers, encouraging sustainable, smaller farming practices. Although it has limited seating space, its coffee is fantastic!
Coffee Club: New College West (pictured) and Prospect Avenue
The Coffee Club has two locations on campus: one in Campus Club on Prospect Avenue, and a second in New College West. With the goal of providing an inclusive space and excellent drinks, Coffee Club is run by students; baristas are often classmates and friends!
Small World is a very popular coffee shop on Witherspoon Street, and many students would recommend it above all other coffee places in town as quintessentially Princeton (t-shirts and stickers are commonly spotted on campus). With lots of seating, it is a great place to meet friends and professors.
Less exciting but definitely worth mentioning is the Starbucks located on Nassau Street just opposite FitzRandolph Gate, the official entrance onto Princeton’s upper campus. Always a convenient option for a caffeine boost or a treat!
TAKEOUT IN TOWN
Takeout food market that features breakfast sandwiches, hot premade specials, salads, all kinds of sandwiches and wraps, bakery items, and snacks.
Great thin-crust, organize pizza with various toppings and gluten free options.
Princeton Soup and Sandwich
Underrated takeout–outstanding soup and sandwiches!!
Morning booster or afternoon treat–bowls and smoothies of all kinds.
Maruichi Japanese Market
Opened March 2023, Japanese market and deli with great sushi takeout, produce, and specialty items.
Reunions Alongside Princeton's Oldest Living Alumni
When I first heard about Princeton reunions, I didn’t doubt for a second that I would stay the extra two weeks after finals to experience them myself. The roaring tigers’ returning glory, the flamboyant orange and black costumes, the night dances, the tiger paws and patterns everywhere you look, and the burning spirit, all sounded too good to miss. So I applied to the easiest campus job I could find— dining services. Little did I know that working as a waiter would turn out to be one of my most memorable Princeton experiences.
Every year, on the second day of reunions, there’s a very special event: the Old Guard Luncheon. It’s a meal that brings together all the Princeton alumni returning for their 65th or more reunion. Some of them were here before the photocopier or Velcro even existed! Others were even here before World War 2. The point is, these guys are old and wise, and a lot has happened since they were flocking around the eating clubs, panicking over midterms, or avoiding FitsRandolph Gates’ middle entry (which you must not walk through as a student or else you will not graduate— confirmed by the frights of many generations of Princetonians). Serving this lunch, and seeing 90-year-olds in fluorescent orange suits and tiger-striped ties, showed me the timelessness of Princeton. 40, 65, or 80 years down the road I’ll be on the other side— sitting where they are, reminiscing on my time here.
I especially enjoyed my brief but meaningful interaction with Joe Schein. During reunions’s P-Rade— the flamboyant and orange-struck alumni parade— Joe carries the leading baton for being the oldest living Princeton alum. He is 108 years old, and a member of the Great Class of 1937. I am a member of the Class of 2025: basically, a whole century after. Talking to Joe, and seeing him and all the Old Guard alumni come back to Old Nassau decades after their time here to cherish their memories, re-live experiences, and reunite with old friends, made me see what people talk about when they say that Princeton is for a lifetime.
In the 1879 Hall archway on campus, there’s a plaque I really like. Its inscription says, “Princeton is a part of you. You are a part of Princeton.” Working this luncheon made me see Princeton with new eyes, and the plaque took on new meaning— your time at Princeton lives in you until the end of your Old Guard days, and after being here, you join a community of Princetonians whose legacy transcends generations.
Finding Community and Confidence on Bridge Year
When I graduated from high school, I was burnt out and needed a change in my life. The decision to take a gap year was never really a question in my mind––my parents were always strong proponents, and I needed a break from academics. When I first read about the Novogratz Bridge Year Program, I knew that the opportunity to spend nine months abroad (for free) was too good to pass up.
However, after I applied and received my acceptance letter to the Indonesia program, I felt less sure about my choice. My anxiety and self-doubts began to emerge, making me second guess whether the Bridge Year Program would be a mistake or not. I would graduate later than my friends, go many months without my family, and live alone in a totally unfamiliar city. Would it be a waste of time? Would I learn anything? Would I make friends? These questions and doubts filled my mind as the departure date neared. I still remember how scared and unsure I felt during the nights leading up to the trip, and the queasy feeling in my stomach as we drove to campus for the pre-departure orientation.
I started Bridge Year with full-on imposter syndrome and anxiety. Like many incoming first-years, I felt inadequate compared to my incredibly accomplished peers and worried about insignificant things that I had no control over. I was insecure, and the other students in my cohort seemed much more mature, intelligent, and well-spoken. In those first few weeks, I kept quiet during group discussions, journaled a lot, and over-thought nearly every word that came out of my mouth.
The first month of Bridge Year Indonesia was reserved for orientation and short-term travel. We spent this initial month traveling through Sumatra. Everything was still new and exciting, but as this month began to wind down and our move-in day to Jogja grew nearer, I felt incredibly anxious about meeting my long-term homestay family. I remember confiding in Umi, one of our on-site staff members, the morning before we were introduced to our families. As we sat on the porch of our hotel–sipping tea and listening to the adzan (call to prayer) in the background–I nervously listed off my fears and hesitations about meeting my homestay family. I was worried about communicating with them with my limited Indonesian, making a good first impression, and whether I could live up to their relationship with the previous student. I was told that my homestay family was especially religious–the father was an Imam–and I worried about what they would think of my Jewish beliefs and identity. Umi reassured me that they were a perfect match for me, and not to worry. This didn’t do much to reassure me at the time, and I spent the rest of the morning pacing and stressing.
I won't lie, that first week in the homestay was quite an adjustment. My family did not speak any English, so we struggled to communicate, and I was exhausted from feeling the need to constantly ‘perform’ around them. But after just a month or two, I felt infinitely more relaxed. As I continued to grapple with anxiety and imposter syndrome, my homestay family became a true source of comfort and relaxation. We found ways to communicate with my still-limited Indonesian skills, and I began to prioritize spending more time at home with them.
Reflecting on it now, four years out of Bridge Year, my homestay family was the best part of my experience. They each taught me so much, and I am so grateful for the generosity and unconditional love that they showed me. There are so many moments that I wouldn’t trade for the world: watching movies on the porch with my homestay brothers, karaoke Bon Jovi with Ibu and Ayah (my homestay parents), visiting my homestay sister in the hospital after she gave birth, Ibu’s disapproving looks when I bleached my hair, and learning Arabic at the Mosque with Ayah. They had an incredibly influential impact on me during this transitional moment in my life when I was just beginning to define my values, relationships, and career trajectory.
While re-reading my journals and reflecting upon Bridge Year, I realized that the community I found in my homestay enabled the growth I experienced that year. While I was feeling anxious, inadequate, and inexperienced compared to my Princeton peers, my homestay showed me acceptance, self-love, and compassion. I never thought that I would call Indonesia home, or consider non-relatives part of my family, but over the course of nine months, that is exactly what ended up happening.
Today, more than four years after the program, I am endlessly grateful for Bridge Year. The personal growth that I underwent shaped who I am today in countless ways. Bridge Year taught me many skills and lessons, but above all, it helped me develop more self-confidence. I know it sounds cliche, but I gained so much confidence in myself and my abilities. Continuously getting pushed outside of my comfort zone forced me to grow in ways that I still struggle to verbalize. I am of course still in contact with my family today, and I am returning to Yogyakarta this summer as part of the Streicker International Fellows Program to intern at an architecture firm. Although I am still unsure about what my future post-grad will be, I am hoping to move to Indonesia again and start my career there. If I had the chance to speak to the pre-Bridge Year version of myself, or anyone considering the program, I would say: absolutely take the leap; the lessons you will learn about yourself, the world, and your place within it will be invaluable and unforgettable.
Easter With the Princeton Christian Fellowship
Princeton Christian Fellowship (PCF) has been central to my Princeton experience. When I was seeking Christian community at the beginning of my time here, PCF welcomed me with open arms. I am so grateful to have found such a warm and loving group of friends and adult mentors. PCF has supported me in so many ways and has helped me grow spiritually, intellectually, and socially. While PCF hosts events every week of the semester, its holiday celebrations are particularly noteworthy.
This Easter was my first Easter away from my family. Easter has always been a special time for me, and I knew spending it without my family would be difficult. However, I was able to spend Easter with my PCF family–I participated in a myriad of Easter festivities organized by PCF. PCF does a great job ensuring that busy students who are away from home still have the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on such an important holiday.
On Maundy Thursday, the PCF student-led Fellowship Team coordinated the annual Prayer in the Garden. Late that night, a group of students gathered in Prospect Garden for a time of song, prayer, and reflection on Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion. A couple of friends and I walked from a study spot to Prospect Garden, and it was so encouraging to join such a large group of peers to prepare together for Good Friday. The rain didn’t stop us, and as I huddled under an umbrella with fellow students, I felt a sense of peace and unity.
On Good Friday, PCF teamed up with Nova Christian Union and Manna Christian Fellowship, two other Christian groups on campus, for an Interfellowship Good Friday Service in McCosh 10. McCosh 10 is one of the largest lecture halls on campus, and it was wonderful to see it nearly completely full of people–not only students but also some adults from the Princeton community. Along with scripture readings that presented the full story of Jesus’ arrest, death, and resurrection, the service featured a worship team composed of members from all three fellowships. They led us in song and prayer, and a guest speaker presented a message to remind us of the depth of God’s love for us.
When Easter Sunday rolled around, a large group of my PCF friends and I took a bus to our church. Every Sunday morning, a bus service picks us up from Princeton’s campus and drives us a few miles down the road to Stone Hill Church of Princeton, a nondenominational church that serves members in and beyond our community. It is a great opportunity to meet and connect with community members who are not college students, and many PCF members get involved in community service at Stone Hill by performing with the worship team or working in the Sunday School. On Easter Sunday, Stone Hill was decorated with calla lilies and packed with people. After the service, we returned on the bus to Princeton, and our group dispersed to attend various Easter brunches, hosted by the PCF staff members. Earlier in the week, I had signed up to eat brunch at my PCF mentor’s house just a short walk off campus. I was joined by eight other Princeton students, and thanks to my mentor and her family, we enjoyed a home-cooked, family-style meal and three hours of warm conversation around the table.
After leaving my mentor’s house, I traveled about a half hour into Pennsylvania for Easter dinner with a family from Stone Hill. PCF and Stone Hill have worked together to connect PCF students with “adoptive families” at Stone Hill so that we have a relationship with a family nearby. My adoptive parents had invited me to join them and their extended family for Easter dinner at their home, and I was so grateful to spend Easter afternoon and evening with them.
Although I still missed my family this Easter, PCF and the connections I have through PCF made being away from home much easier. I am so grateful for how supported I feel by my Christian community in and around campus.
Like most of the Northeastern region of the United States, a substantial portion of the year (and thus a large chunk of the school year) is filled with cold days and often cloudy skies. Campus, although ever-beautiful, is for quite some time characterized by different shades of blues and grays. Although this matches the Dead Poets Society, dark academia feel of campus perfectly, I’ll admit that at some point all I can think about is when spring will finally arrive.
The return of spring signals the return of many of my favorite things on campus: the blossoming of the Magnolia trees all over campus, the sweet smell of flowers growing in Prospect Garden, the time change, the end of the school year, and (perhaps most importantly) the return of Junbi’s lavender honey matcha.
The first day of real warm weather during the spring semester is always one of my favorite days out of the whole year. Princeton students that have been hiding from the colder weather for months suddenly reappear on campus grounds as though awakened from their winter, indoor-studying slumber. People can be scattered all across Cannon Green, outside of Firestone, and in Prospect Garden.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, especially because student events and people touring Princeton never really stop, life returns to campus.
On the first warm day of this year, my friends and I formed a part of this revival. After leaving a study break with the Princeton University Mentor Program where we planted succulents and painted their pots, we decided to study outside. We found our spot sitting on top of a large stone sculpture near Cannon Green that gets a perfect view of some of the most iconic Princeton buildings–Whig and Clio, East Pyne, the Chapel, and Nassau Hall.
Our study session, however, did not last long. Under the bright sun and in the gentle breeze, we ended up laying down and watching everything around us. Rather than reading and coding and working on assignments, we put our efforts into creating the perfect sunny day playlist and enjoying the songs. After a while, we moved to sit at the base of a nearby tree and continued to soak up the sun. To our left, one of the campus photographers carried out a picture-taking session, and crowds of guided tours passed by us every few minutes.
We let ourselves breathe.
As the months go by during the school year, it’s easy to get caught up in the details of our day-to-day lives as students. But when the days get warmer and the grass gets greener, it is the perfect morale boost and fuel towards the end of the year.
Personal Growth While Finding Community and a Sense of Belonging
It is easy to say Princeton is beautiful, but real beauty goes beyond appearance and reputation. The heart of a school is the people and the people at Princeton are some of the best you’ll ever meet–they make this school beautiful. Is it easy to make friends? Will I fit in? These are the most common questions first-years ask before entering Princeton’s campus and I think at the root of these questions, it boils down to: will I find a community? Students from around the country and even the world enter Princeton’s orange bubble and hope they’ll find belonging. What does it mean to belong?
In my first year, I didn’t know what to expect. I wish I could say that I worried about the common concerns many other students had coming in. Instead, I was just excited to have a normal college experience, see people face to face, and create connections. My lack of expectations made it easier for me to settle. I didn’t engage in all the opportunities available and never stepped outside my comfort zone. My first year was a learning experience, it was filled with trials and errors and sometimes isolation. While it may not have been the most ideal experience, it highlighted how important it was for me to push myself and seek connections–to find my community.
One of the ways I find belonging is in the classroom. My Latino Literature and Film seminar is a class full of Latine students who share similar lived experiences. I resonate so quickly with their feelings and I learn of different cultures and upbringings that influence perception on representation, all within an hour and a half. One of the reasons I love the Latino Studies program is because of Professor Rivera-Lopez. She constantly finds ways to make us question how Latine individuals are represented in film and what authentic stories look like. I previously took a seminar with her in the fall semester called "Introduction to Latino/a/x Studies" and this is where I learned a history that is so often overlooked and forgotten. Many people from the fall seminar decided to continue into the spring semester taking Professor Rivera-Lopez’s classes, these people began forming my community here.
One of the other ways I find belonging is by demonstrating my support to the organizations that bring joy to my Princeton experience. Más Flow is Princeton’s premier Latine dance company which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. A couple of friends and I went to their spring production “La Fiesta del Año”. I loved seeing my friends and people I had classes with perform on stage, dancing to music that reminded me a bit of home. I tend to look for community with what feels familiar to me, but I also just love catching up with people I work with or friends via quick trips to late meal and USG movie nights.
I can’t say I am the same person I was when I walked through FitzRandolph Gates during pre-rade but I like that I am still finding out who I am. Belonging does not have to be definite, our identities are complex and growing. The friendships you make your freshman year won’t always last but that doesn’t mean they weren’t meaningful. I love being able to interact with so many people who have interesting and different perspectives. Princeton's campus is a space where you are both challenged and embraced, that is one of the reasons I love it so much.
To the Class of 2027, I can’t ensure that your journey will be easy or perfect by any means but it will be memorable. Worries and excitement are all normal feelings but I hope you won’t allow your nerves to dictate your time here. Make that first step and try something new because if there’s a time or space to do anything, it’s at Princeton. Embrace the new atmosphere and don’t settle for what is within reach, community is most often found in places you’ll least expect it to be. Congratulations on your acceptance and I hope to see you next fall!
March Madness at Princeton
Of the many loveable aspects of Princeton, the excellence of our athletic programs is likely not the first thing to come to mind. That said, Princeton is an amazing place for college sports, having won the most ivy titles by a large margin. Recently, Princeton has found itself on the national stage this March Madness.
I have always been a huge Princeton basketball fan! During the regular season, I go to as many home games as I can. Last year, I flew to Boston for our Ivy Madness playoffs, and this year I was able to attend the Ivy playoffs in Princeton during the first weekend of spring break! Basketball has been a huge component of my experience at Princeton, so you can probably imagine my excitement when both our men’s and women’s teams punched their tickets for March Madness this year.
Having watched so many of our men's games, I had faith in our matchup against Arizona in the first round. I'm a native Arizonan, and was home in Arizona for spring break during our game against University of Arizona. My mother and I watched the first game in an Arizona sports bar, all decked out in our Princeton gear. We got many dirty looks from the Arizona fans and encountered some trash talk from neighboring tables––I'm sure we were the only Princeton fans in the entire building. That first win felt incredible, and I remember jumping up and down and screaming! People would tell me that "we got lucky," but I was confident there was something special about this Princeton team.
I watched our second game against Mizzou at a hotel near the Taylor Swift concert I was attending that night. As chance would have it, I met up with Princeton alumni who had reserved the big screen for the game. It was incredible to experience that game with alumni and to be immersed in Princeton's community, even off campus.
I was on campus for our final game against Creighton. The energy was electric. Students crammed into Whig to watch the game. Local news stations lined up along the sides of the building to interview students. We screamed together, we cheered together, and we celebrated this amazing team together.
When I chose to attend Princeton, I never imagined an experience quite like this. Seeing our campus come together to support our basketball teams during such a historic run only reaffirmed that this truly is the best old place of all.
A Thousand Paths to Princeton
It goes without saying that every student currently enrolled at Princeton has a unique journey that led them here, but when I was still a prospective student, this is something that was especially important for me to remember. So allow me to say it again: there is no “normal” path to Princeton, and there is no “normal” Princeton student.
Like many other nervous prospective applicants, I spent countless hours during my senior year of high school searching the Internet for answers–for anything that would tell me whether or not Princeton was even remotely attainable for me. Sure, I’d always gotten good grades, but what if that wasn’t enough? I’d been a public school student all my life, and although I greatly valued that education, I knew there would be other applicants that would have gone to different schools that had likely better prepared and exposed them to the rigor of ideas and extracurriculars that Princeton was looking for. In the weeks leading up to the January 1st deadline, my head swarmed with self-doubt.
I almost didn’t apply, but on December 31st, I submitted my application. To avoid getting my hopes up, I told myself that even if I got in, I probably wouldn’t go because it was more than a thousand miles away, and it’d be too hard, and I didn’t want to live in New Jersey anyway, and…
I believe my first words were, “Oh my God I got in,” and I believe after that (as well as after refreshing the page dozens of times to make sure it hadn’t been a mistake) they were, “What am I going to do?”
Up until that point, I had been ready to submit my acceptance to one of the state schools near my hometown. Maybe the fact I hadn’t yet was a testament in itself that I was hoping for my admission at Princeton, but that didn’t change the fact that I was scared of leaving Florida: all of my friends would be staying close to home; I had never gone so far on my own; and my family–my sister and my parents–and I were all extremely close since my parents had immigrated from Mexico and raised us far from any true support system. Princeton, with its Gothic architecture and ivy-covered walls, did not feel like the place for me–I did not think it was a space made for people like me, even after being accepted.
I won’t lie to you that Princeton was immediately, or even now, all sunshine and rainbows. As I look forward to declaring Politics as my major, as well as applying to law school in the future, I still struggle with these sorts of thoughts. But this is home now, and I’ve learned to embrace the rigor and explore the endless opportunities at my disposal here. If I had given in to the fear and the uncertainty, there is so much that I would have missed out on:
Every beautiful seasonal transition on campus, including experiencing my first snowfall;
Amazing friends, including my roommate of two years that I genuinely could not live without;
Meeting Nobel Prize winners in the middle of class or watching movies get filmed on campus;
My upcoming internship with an amazing organization in Trenton through the Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS) program;
Engaging in all of Princeton’s quirky traditions;
And above all, tremendous self-growth.
Maybe this is a letter to my past self, or maybe it’s a love letter to Princeton. But to you, future applicant, or to you, future student–if there is anything that you get out of this one of thousands of stories, it is this:
You belong here, and sometimes the scariest choice turns out to be the right choice after all.
For the Love of ReCal, One of Many Student-created Apps
It’s that time of year again! That’s right, course selection – when Princeton students pick out their classes and build their schedules for the upcoming semester. In the spring, this happens around mid-April (with the exception of incoming first-years), while in the fall it takes place at the beginning of December.
Personally, I’m one of those people that eagerly awaits the day that they post the new course options because I absolutely LOVE course selection! Coming up with the perfect schedule satisfies my over-organizational tendencies, and it’s always fun to peruse the interesting classes and see what courses your favorite professors are teaching next semester. But with the hundreds and hundreds of classes to pick from, it can definitely be overwhelming to sort through your options. You’ll probably wish that there was a way to visualize your course schedules. Fortunately, there is a TigerApp just for that!
TigerApps are a series of apps/websites created and run by our very own Princeton students, and they’re “designed to improve your campus experience.” If you can name it, they probably have an app for it! There’s TigerDraw for looking at dorm reviews in preparation for the infamous room draw, TigerStudy if you're trying to find a study group for a certain class, and my favorite one, by far: ReCal!
On ReCal, students can plan that perfect course schedule based on the updated list of classes for each semester. It automatically color-codes everything for you, and it’s super easy to add and remove courses. You can also select multiple classes for a certain time slot to see all your options side-by-side, and hovering over each class also lets you see the number of people currently enrolled in the course. It’ll even sync with your Google calendar!
What I love about ReCal is that it really encourages students to play around with their schedules and make sure they’re finding a balance for themselves. One semester, my first attempt at trying out a course combination on the website immediately made it obvious to me that my schedule was looking really “chunky” and blocked out. There wasn’t even a space for lunch! I knew that would be really overwhelming for myself, so I hit the remove button on ReCal, did some more searching, and found an alternative. Now, I always make sure that my ReCal schedule is looking spaced out with enough time to get to my classes without a rush, as few early mornings as possible, and, of course most importantly, some time carved out for lunch!
Check out ReCal now, and the many other wonderful TigerApps used by Princeton students!
My Identities and My Idol: Cheering for Messi and World-champion Argentina With Princeton’s Jewish-latino Community
Forget about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks. Argentina’s only, true national hero is soccer player Lionel Messi. A legend admired by citizens of all generations, it’s every Argentinian’s dream to see him play live. That dream became a reality for me when Princeton’s Jewish-Latino community, J-Lats, invited me to an Argentina vs. Jamaica game in New Jersey last September.
J-Lats had always been, and continues to be, an important community for me on campus. My experience as a Latino is fundamentally interwoven with my experience as a Jewish person, and my experience as a Jewish person is impossible to detach from the Latino context where it flourished. J-Lats gives me a group where that intersection of identities is celebrated— we host “Shabbat Picante!” at the Center for Jewish Life, we bring speakers, and we host world-cup-themed study breaks and food-filled meetings.
When Argentina’s Fútbol Association announced a game in New Jersey, I thought to myself: "c’mon… New Jersey out of all places? This has to be a sign from the universe." I contacted J-Lats’s president, Alex Egol, and plans went into the works. Less than 2 weeks later, on September 27th, 2022, we were all on a train bound for the Red Bull Arena. We were welcomed by tens of thousands of fans wearing la albiceleste and passionately chanting on the team that just a few months later would crown itself FIFA World Cup champions.
Only 13 minutes into the game and suddenly GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!! We skyrocketed out of our seats and screamed like there was no tomorrow; we hugged and vámos-carajoed. We watched the rest of the game attentively, and then he was released onto the playing field: Lionel Messi! Seeing him in real life was difficult to define. It was strange to see that he’s not a fictional legend that landed from the heavens: he’s a human with two legs, and mamma mia can those legs do stuff! Messi authored the 2nd and 3rd goals, which made the arena shake in what can only be described as South American spirit.
Coming back to campus, I felt grateful and lucky. Who would have guessed that the first time I’d see Argentina play live wouldn’t be in my homeland, but in New Jersey instead? The possibilities Princeton gives its students are endless, and they go from doing research with Nobel laureates, to designing computational universes, to fulfilling your dream of seeing your nation’s hero play fútbol.
I can say today, as I’m sure I’ll tell my grandchildren one day, that I saw Argentina’s World Cup champion team play live in the field, with 2 goals from the “GOAT” Messi. Vamos, carajo!