Getting Oriented on Campus: Community Action as a First-Year to Community Action as a Leader

CA, OA, DDA. These are acronyms that all incoming first-years come to know as they embark on their college journey at Princeton. Community Action, Outdoor Action, and Dialogue & Difference in Action, respectively, are three of the main orientation programs that new students are assigned to upon arrival to campus. While all three programs have their unique merits and focuses, I’d like to talk about my amazing Community Action experiences, both as a first-year student and later as a leader. 

I remember arriving at Princeton and, like many incoming students, wondering how, when, and where I’d make friends. Surely, you’ll meet peers through your classes, your advisee “zee” group (AKA the people that live on/around your floor), and through clubs. However, CA, and orientation in general, presents a special opportunity to meet a random assortment of fellow first-years that you may otherwise never have met anywhere else. It also is an opportunity to connect with communities nearby and engage in service.

My first year, I absolutely loved my CA group. Even though we were still in our COVID-era and could not do the typical overnight orientation trips, our group bonded quickly. One of my favorite memories was going to the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC) and getting to do team-building games and go canoeing together. Another would be doing a gardening service project at the local Grounds for Sculpture. These activities really brought our group together and, to this day, I’m still good friends with many members of my CA group. And even with those I’m not, it’s nice to have a familiar face around campus to say hi to. Coincidentally, my CA trip is also where I met one of my best friends (shoutout Kelsey!). Though she was in a different group than me, we were both at the same service site and got to talking. We found out we shared a lot of similarities, like being from New Jersey, living in what was then First College, and also enjoying our CA experiences so much.

Group of students posing around statue
My 2021 CA Group, as a first-year student!

That is partially what inspired that very friend and I to become CA leaders together this year for the Class of 2026. Our CA group (shoutout Group 17~38!) quickly became like a family, and the energy and positivity our first-years brought was absolutely palpable throughout our entire trip. Now many weeks past the end of this year’s orientation program, we still find ourselves sending jokes in our Group 17 chat, grabbing dinner together on Nassau St., and studying with them on our floor. I can safely say that becoming a CA leader was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and our CA trip this year was one of, if not the, best 4 days of my Princeton experience thus far. 

All this to say, orientation and Community Action is one of the many ways Princeton helps foster community amongst the incoming class. From the start of your Princeton career, you’re able to build strong connections with your peers — connections that will hopefully end up lasting a lifetime!

Students and man posing for group picture in front of tree
My 2022 CA group, as a sophomore and leader!

Giving a Tour of Princeton

On a recent Sunday, my friend Hannah took the train from New York City to visit me in Princeton. In planning our itinerary, I considered what sites would be essential to give her the complete Princeton experience. I wanted to show her the traditional Princeton sites and give her a feel for what a typical day of traversing campus for classes, meetings, and activities is like for me. These are the locations I decided to include on the tour, and we had a lovely time exploring them throughout the afternoon.

1. The Dinky

Silver train stopped at the Dinky train station in Princeton, NJ

The first stop was meeting Hannah at the Dinky train station. The Dinky is a short rail line connecting campus to Princeton Junction, which is a major train station hub with connections to cities like Philadelphia and New York. Once off the Dinky, Hannah entered the Wawa there to grab a coffee while she waited for me to arrive (who was caught off guard by how fast the Dinky was, and consequently late!)

2. My residential college

white hotel exterior of Forbes College

After leaving the Dinky station, our first tour site was naturally Forbes college. Forbes, my residential college, is located just across Alexander Street from the Dinky. I explained that the building was formerly the Princeton Inn, and I showed her where my dorm was.

3. Nassau Hall, Firestone Plaza, and Blair Arch

Author standing with camera and arms outstretched in welcoming pose in Firestone plaza

Next up on the tour were several historic sites without which no Princeton tour would be complete. We walked up to Nassau Hall, the iconic ivy-covered building just past the front gates, passed through Firestone Plaza, and posed for a photo in front of Blair Arch (cover image of this blog), the famous steps of which used to welcome visitors off the train (the train station was moved a quarter mile south, to its current location near Forbes, in 1918). With my camera and map in hand, I think I looked much more like a tourist than a student here!

4. Fountain of Freedom

Children and adults wading in reflecting pool of the Fountain of Freedom

It was a very hot day, so we decided to cool off by the Fountain of Freedom. The breeze blows a spray of water as you pass by, which was cooling and much appreciated that afternoon. There's also a reflecting pool in which children play and swim, and it was so hot that I took off my shoes and decided to wade in too! It was a much-needed refresher.

5. Eating Clubs

The cannon and lawn in front of the historic mansion that is the Cannon Dial Elm eating club

I'm not a member of an eating club, but I still felt a Princeton tour would not be complete without a stroll down Prospect Avenue to see the eleven historic buildings. We appreciated the architecture and peeked through the windows to see inside the (summer-emptied) clubs.

6. Palmer Square

Brick and wood façades of storefronts in Palmer Square

After exploring campus, I took Hannah down Nassau Street to see the town. We window shopped in Palmer Square (a high end shopping and dining square in the heart of town), and we actually shopped at my favorite thrift store, Nearly New. I'm pleased to report I found some Princeton socks for $3.

After exploring campus and town, we walked back to the Dinky and Hannah departed suburbia to return to the big city. There are certainly more sites to see, but I think my tour provided a nice overview of the campus and town.

Traversing the Orange Bubble

Navigating your way around campus can be intimidating during a visit or just after move-in, but after several weeks, you'll likely find yourself realizing that the campus is actually quite compact. Traversing the Orange Bubble for your various classes throughout the day is quite doable on foot or on bike, which is why very few students have cars on campus (that, combined with the lack of practically any place to park one). Additionally, Princeton's buildings are becoming increasingly accessible. For instance, Naomi Hess '22 has a wonderful blog on the recent renovations to Nassau Hall that allowed her to be the first person using a wheelchair to enter the building without assistance. In short, getting around campus without a car or shuttle is easy, and the impromptu conversations that occur while entering, leaving and traveling between campus buildings are an unsung but vital part of the Princeton experience. 

For example, after working on a paper or problem set for several hours, I might summarize verbally what I've been doing to a friend I pass on my way out of the E-Quad or library. The simple act of condensing the main points of my work can be very helpful in synthesizing and organizing the material in my mind. Other times, the walks between classes provide an opportunity to catch up with friends when we don't have the time to organize a formal meet-up or get-together. Even though we might not have the time for a concert or event together, we can always chat as we walk from class to class. I really appreciate the moments with friends as I get around campus, as they've been the start of both great ideas and friendships.

Campus is very self-contained, but there may be times when you need something from a destination farther away. For those moments, you can take the Tiger Transit shuttle bus. This bus is free and drives around campus daily, and on the weekends it follows the Weekend Shopper route. This route proceeds down Route 1 to stop at the various shopping centers that include a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Staples, Home Depot and other stores. I've taken the Weekend Shopper to buy groceries, and my friends have taken it to buy supplies for their art classes. 

Weekend shopper bus approaching in parking lot of shopping center

Weather permitting, it's also possible to increase your mobility on a bike. Many students have bikes on campus, because they make it possible to get from New South to the E-Quad, for instance, when you only have a 10-minute change-over between classes. There is also a biking route down Alexander Street and Canal Pointe Boulevard that you can take to reach the shopping centers previously mentioned. When it's nice outside, I like taking a bike ride along that route to get to the Whole Foods to buy groceries. Most students store their bikes outside on the numerous bike racks outside the dorms. I cover mine with a plastic tarp when it rains. It looks a little ridiculous, but it does help prevent rusting!


bicycle under gray plastic tarp

Getting around campus and town is one of the most enjoyable parts of my daily routine, and I never fail to appreciate both the buildings and the friends around me as I get from place to place. Furthermore, campus is becoming increasingly accessible to everyone, which you can find out more about from the AccessAbility Center. Additionally Parking and Transportation Services also provides information on accessible pathways and entrances on campus.  In summary, traversing the Orange Bubble is a simple everyday treat.

To Find a Home

As an international student from Haiti, I have always been aware of my national identity, especially when traveling abroad. The first time I visited the United States, I realized how my Haitianness was not just a label, but had tangible and observable consequences for how I integrated spaces, how I was perceived and what kind of learning, unlearning and resistance I would have to perform. When I decided to commit to Princeton in April 2021, this awareness was front and center in my mind. Would I find my belonging without compromising who I was at my core? I wanted college to be a space for growth, but I didn't want that growth to come at the expense of my authentic self. I wasn't averse to challenging myself and being uncomfortable, but at what cost? I knew there were many affinity groups on campus that intersected with my national identity that would help me protect and nourish what I thought to be my identity. What I didn't know whether or where I would find a home. I carried these questions and doubts with me on the plane.

In the fall of my first year, I attended an event organized by the African Students Association (PASA). It was an event of delicious food, traditional board games, music and fantastic atmosphere! There were people from diverse backgrounds: first-generation immigrants, international students from the African continent or the diaspora, black students of all backgrounds, generational African-American students, and all those beautiful and complex intersectional identities. I immediately felt at home! I understood the humor, people laughed at my jokes, the music was engaging, the energy electrifying and the food seasoned. I felt seen and welcomed as part of a larger community. At that moment, my national identity made space for my other identities to be. I became part of something greater: a cultural community.

I experienced the same feeling over and over again. It was not just happening at PASA events. It happened at the movie nights organized by the Davis International Center. It happened again at study breaks with other first-generation low-income students. And again at the weekly dinners of the Society of African Internationals (SAIP). And again at the game nights organized by the Black Student Union (BSU). Over time, I came to see community, identity and belonging as dynamic concepts that can only be spoken of in plural. So far at Princeton, I have learned to see myself as more than Haitian. I have been encouraged to recognize and explore other aspects of myself. Other identities that make me who I am. I stopped chasing this single community where I would feel at home and instead welcomed the idea of ​​belonging through multiple communities and spaces. Thanks to a variety of student groups, only some of which I have officially joined (I am now the Vice-President of PASA), I was able to feel at home. Today, my Haitianness remains an extremely important part of who I am and of what drives me. Yet, I have found peace and joy in knowing and accepting that I am much more than that, however proud I am to be Haitian.

Two friends in front of a lake in Seattle

Language Tables Are Your Friend

Bonjour à Tous! (Hello All!)

In today’s blog post, I am sharing my experience with language learning at Princeton.

For some context, I studied French for all four years of high school. Because I didn’t have access to language classes in middle school, I had to start out with an intensive class, and I did not end up taking AP French. 

The summer before I came to Princeton, as I got a million emails about moving in and orientation and new clubs, I also got an email to take a language placement test. I sat down for an hour or so and took the French placement test, which placed me in FRE 103.

Since I intend to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) degree, I have to fulfill a language requirement. The requirement dictates that A.B. students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English either through standardized tests scores, a placement exam, or completion of a language course at or above the 107 level. So, I’d only need to take FRE 103 and another French course at or above FRE 107 in order to be done with my requirement!

There are so many types of language classes offered at Princeton, from Spanish and Latin to American Sign Language and Swahili. There’s definitely something for everyone!

Last semester (Spring 2022), I completed FRE 103, so here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to help you on your language learning journey here at Princeton:

A group of people in the Whitman Dining Hall with a sign that says "Cena Latina" (Latin Dinner)
A group of people gather in the Whitman dining hall for a Latin language table.


  1. Language tables are your friend. I will say it again for the people in the back: LANGUAGE. TABLES. ARE. YOUR. FRIEND. What is a language table, you may ask? A language table is an event organized (usually by each of the different residential colleges) where native/fluent speakers and people learning a given language come together (usually over dinner in a dining hall) in order to practice. I have been to two languages tables for Spanish and French so far, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them. They are great opportunities not only to practice speaking your target language in a natural and low-stakes environment, but they’re also a great way to meet new people (read: potential FRIENDS 😍)
  2. Be proactive about addressing any vocab or grammar that isn’t sticking. This is a tip I wish I had utilized more this past semester. I’ve always struggled with the different tenses in French (passé composé, impératif, imparfait, conditionnel, etc.) and when to use them. I didn’t get around to scheduling office hours with my professor for some 1:1 practice with these verb tenses until the end of the semester, and by then it was a bit too late to fully understand and commit everything to memory. DON’T be like me: start going to office hours at the beginning of the semester and build a habit of going often and regularly! Language professors often have a set time each week that they dedicate for office hours, and if that time doesn’t work for you then they can work to coordinate a different time over email or at the end of class.
  3. Don’t be afraid to explore a new language! Princeton is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have access to a wide variety of renowned scholars well-versed in a plethora of languages. Why not take advantage of it? I personally want to learn a language called Yoruba, which is my parents’ native tongue. Most schools don’t offer this language, but Princeton is able to through a collaboration with Yale’s Yoruba professor. After I fulfill my language requirement through French, I want to look into taking some Yoruba classes!

What language(s) do you want to study at Princeton? Are there any new languages you want to explore?


All About Reading Period

This past semester, the last day of class was Friday, April 22nd, but my last final exam was on Sunday, May 8th. What happens in the nearly three weeks between the end of classes and the last final exam?

The answer is reading period and finals period, a time for students to write their final papers and prepare for exams. Compared to other universities, which often have reading periods of only several days, Princeton has a lengthy stretch of time between the last class and final exam. I've found, though, that I really like having this extended reading and finals period. It allows me to carefully review all the material, and I can master concepts that I didn't fully grasp on the first pass during the hectic semester.

Reading period spans the week from the day after the last class through "Dean's Date," when all final papers and final projects are due at 5 p.m. Most students spend the reading period completing these assignments, and there are a number of amusing Princeton traditions that occur just before the deadline. One tradition, for instance, is the late-night "breakfast" in the residential colleges occuring at around 10 to 11 p.m. on the night before Dean's Date, in which all the dining halls open and offer a full breakfast buffet to hungry students struggling to debug their code or flesh out their concluding arguments. This is followed by a rather unusual event: at midnight, students will gather outside their dorms and collectively scream for a full minute, from 12:00 to 12:01, to let off steam and pent-up frustration. The scream has different titles at the different dormitories; Whitmanites gather in the courtyard for the "Whitman Wail," while outside of Holder Hall you'll hear the "Holder Howl." While somewhat dramatic, the scream shows you that you're not alone in feeling a little strained at the end of the semester. Everyone is feeling the stress of putting their best effort into their final assignments, but everyone also takes comfort in knowing that soon their work will be complete and submitted.

At 5 p.m. on Dean's Date, the Princeton Band plays celebratory music and food trucks arrive to feed hungry, exhausted students outside McCosh Hall. Your assignments are complete!

Around 20 members of the Princeton Band playing outside Princeton chapel

Then it's time for final exams. The day following Dean's Date is the beginning of finals period, which lasts about two weeks. Each class is assigned a specific exam window during the finals period so that no two classes will have conflicting exams. The lengthy finals period means that you'll likely have several days between exams, which is useful in allowing you to fully prepare and feel ready for each one. Many classes continue to offer office hours and review sessions during reading period and finals period, which allows you to get help studying topics that you don't remember or never quite fully understood. Then, after taking your last exam, the semester is officially over! You then have a generously long winter or summer break to rest and rejuvenate before starting your next set of courses.

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!


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. 

What You Have to Gain Is Wonderful

By the time I submitted my final college application, I was exhausted. I was excited about  college (and excited about Princeton, once I was admitted and later enrolled), but the thought of  another four years of physics equations and research papers made me apprehensive. I started spending a lot of time on the Novogratz Bridge Year website, looking at photos of smiling participants and reading about a year of trekking and service and living abroad.  

When deciding whether or not I wanted to apply to Princeton’s Novogratz Bridge Year program, one of my major hang-ups was about my high school friends. I adored them, and they were all about to go to college — to choose a major, attend dorm parties and bond with roommates— and I wasn’t sure if I could do something so different from them. It would mean that I graduated a year later from them and that I wouldn’t be able to come home for breaks. At some level, it meant that I wouldn’t be able to relate to them and they wouldn’t be able to relate to me.  

I was so worried about this that I almost didn’t apply to the program in Senegal. When I did, and I was accepted, my excitement was tempered slightly by these fears. I spent the summer before I left buying a bug hut, googling Senegalese music, and trying not to feel left out as my friends picked out their classes. I don’t know if my 18-year-old self would be surprised by this or not, but those fears pretty much all came true. I kept missing the group FaceTimes because I was in a different time zone; I cried when I saw photos of all my friends together at Thanksgiving; I had a hard time connecting with them when I came home the following summer.  


A beach in Senegal

I don’t mean to say that I lost my high school friends — I am still incredibly close with many of  them, and I love now being able to trade stories about our professors and our college friends. In  some ways, my friendships with them are stronger than they ever were. Maybe if I hadn’t gone away, we wouldn’t be friends at all now. But choosing to take a gap year separated me from them  in ways that I still haven’t fully moved past. This separation very likely might have happened  anyway, as we all went to different schools and studied different things. But it felt unique to me,  as perhaps it does to everyone. At the very least, I was the first one to separate, and I didn’t get to  ease into it over the course of the semester or the year. Once I left, I was gone.  

Despite this loss — and it does still feel in many ways like a loss, as grateful as I am for my  continued friendships — I wouldn’t change my decision for the world. Before I left for Senegal I was so focused on what I stood to lose that I had a hard time picturing what I had to gain. That makes sense: what you might lose is real and tangible, while what you might gain is abstract and largely unknown. It wasn’t until I was there that I realized that the choice I had made was worth it.

Now, I wouldn’t trade any of it: picking up my little homestay brother from school, or making  pancakes on top of a mountain for my friend’s birthday, or running along the beach and through  the waves, or drinking cold bissap after finishing some hot ceebujen, or reading in the backseat of long and dusty bus rides, or carving watermelons for Halloween with my homestay family, or  eating beignets and oranges on the side of the road with my friends, or hiking past baobab trees, or returning to hold my godchildren for the first time. I wouldn’t trade a single one of those things.  


Kate making faces with 4 children and adult

I spent that year living a life very different than the one I had grown used to. I worked at an  organization called Empire des Enfants, a shelter for boys who had been living and begging on  the streets, and learned how I could live a life of service even when I wasn’t “doing service.” I  spent my days taking the bus to work and then coming home for lunch before heading off to  language class. On the weekends, I swam to beautiful islands with my group and watched tv with  my little brothers. Slowly, I was able to make new friends and form new communities. They  looked different than the ones I had before, but I began to feel at home in a new place. I promise  you, what you have to gain is wonderful.


The Black Woman Wellness Retreat & The Necessity for Self Care

During the winter break of my first year (Winter 2021), I stayed on campus. Break gave me the time I needed to listen to my own needs and goals instead of getting caught up in the busy-ness of the semester. Most importantly, it gave me the space to be more intentional about self-care. I slept in more often, hung out with other on-campus friends regularly, started a new TV series and got back into crocheting.   

In addition to participating in a few Wintersession workshops–one on knitting, one on embroidery and one session called "Founding Your Deep Tech Startup"–I also was fortunate enough to attend the first Black Women Wellness Retreat hosted by the Our Health Matters (OHM) Club. The OHM is a club focused on the health and wellbeing of Black women on campus. In a world that expects Black women to be endlessly “strong,” this all expenses paid retreat gave me the room to be honest about how I was honestly doing and what I needed:

After tasty breakfast pastries provided by The Gingered Peach, a local Black woman-owned business, we took a chartered bus to Skytop Lodge, located in the Poconos Mountains. The Lodge itself was stunning, it had rich, velvety carpets, tall windows with lots of natural sunlight and really unique furniture. The room I stayed in had ample space, as well as its own walk-in closet, full bathroom and outdoor patio. During the retreat, our time was spent doing everything from playing ping pong to making vision boards, to talking about our experiences with dating on campus.


Magazine cutouts for vision board collage

I do not share any of this to brag. As a lower-income student, I’d never stepped foot near a ski lodge before, yet this retreat afforded me that experience as a means to promote my self care. I share this experience with you, because it is important that Black women are seen engaging in self-care, indulging in high-quality experiences and supporting each other.  

At the end of the day, I am reminded of this quote from Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” As a Black person, I must remind myself of this every day. As a woman of color, I must remind myself of this every day. As all of the the things I am–lower-income, first-generation and a Black Muslim woman trying to navigate an elite institution–it is imperative that I strive closer and closer to a future where my self care is no longer negotiable in my schedule but the norm. 

What about you? How has your self-care journey been going? I’d love to know!