How I Fell In Love With Princeton, Again.

How I Fell In Love With Princeton, Again.

Come on, please tell me I'm not the only one with this experience!
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Princeton University

I just love how those words roll off the tongue. Those two words carry everything you associate with the campus - grandeur, mysterious beauty and charm, and (of course) magic.

When you walk Princeton's campus for the first time, you're immediately overwhelmed by its grandiose atmosphere. The historical significance of Nassau Hall bears down on you, the immensity of Blair Arch captives your imagination, and the imperial University Chapel beckons you to take a peek inside its great nave. There is something about this campus that takes you beyond the physical and bestows in you a more metaphysical, transcendental, indescribable experience. I recognized that (most likely without understanding it or describing it in those terms) when I first toured the campus at age 10.

I'm from our beloved Garden State. At some point during a Jersey child's educational experience, he or she must learn the history of this great state. For me, that was in fourth grade. All I remember was opening up my textbook to a two-page spread of the magnificent Blair Arch. In a text-box were the words "Princeton University. Founded 1746" followed by a brief overview of its history. I was trying so hard not to scream, "This looks like Hogwarts!" I sure was thinking that, though. Naturally, as every fourth grader does, I conducted more "research" on this Hogwarts-like education institution, dragged my parents on an Orange Key tour, and told everyone I knew that that's where I wanted to go to college. That was the first time I fell in love with Princeton. Princeton University.

...

Right now, you're probably thinking that I was a weird child. Well, sir/ma'am, let me get this straight... I indeed was.

Fast forward about nine years later, and I just completed my first semester at Princeton. Amid all the course load and extra-curricular obligations, I tried my absolute best to try to stop and appreciate my being here. Of course, I'm appreciative! But when that English essay is nagging at the back of your mind, it's unlikely that you'd consider yourself in a state of unperturbed bliss. You can really try to convince yourself of that, but that depends on your ability at self-deception.

During intersession (the week-long period in-between semesters), I had plenty of time for self-reflection: What went well during my first semester? What didn't go so well? Which of my expectations of Princeton were satisfied or surpassed? Which were not? How will I go forward from here? These were the main questions I tried to answer during this stress-free work-free week.

February 6th, 2017 - The first day of the new semester. I stepped on campus feeling fresh, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle any newfound challenges before me. Out with the old, in with the new, as they always say, right? Right! So that was my mindset. What I was not prepared for, however, was that I would fall madly in love with Princeton all over again. I fell in love again, that's for sure, but this time was different.

As I walked across campus that first day, I was suddenly filled with immense school pride. I had never been prouder to call myself a Tiger. Having just bought an orange Princeton notebook from the U-Store that morning, this pride for the orange and the black was only amplified. As I passed Blair Arch, the subject of that two-page spread from oh so long ago, I couldn't help but smile at it in gratitude. Thank you for giving me a chance. As I walked past students on their way to class, as I saw the glistening Neuroscience Institute from across Poe Field, as I met up with my wonderful second-to-none friends, I was truly in a state of unperturbed bliss. The songs of Old Nassau resonated in my core seeking escape.

Everything made so much sense. Nassau. Firestone. East Pyne. Frist. Robertson. Whitman. Rocky. Mathey. Forbes. Wilson. Butler. It all fit together so perfectly. I not only rediscovered my fourth-grade love for this breathtaking one-of-a-kind institution, I also recognized the harmony of this campus - the individual songs of the 190 buildings and 500 acres coalesce to tell the single tale of Princeton University. The tale of Princeton is now my tale. It's the tale of my roommates. Of each person in my HIS 210 lecture hall. Of my writing seminar professor. It's the tale of Nassau and Blair Arch and Firestone and the Chapel. It is the tale of Mazzo Green, and Lake Carnegie, and the tree outside my door. It's the tale of President Eisgruber, Michelle Obama, Jodi Piccoult. Of John Witherspoon, Aaron Burr Jr. and Sr., and Harvey S. Firestone. It is the tale of the United States of America. It is the tale that gives meaning to my love for this incredible place.

So if I walk through the main lobby of Frist,

or happen to pass students building a snowman,

or if I stop to admire Nassau Hall from across Cannon Green,

I can be absolutely sure of one thing:

I will never stop loving Princeton, the best old place of all.


Cover Image Credit: Austin Chow

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To The Girl Who Had A Plan

A letter to the girl whose life is not going according to her plan.
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“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” - William Ernest Henley

Since we were little girls we have been asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We responded with astronauts, teachers, presidents, nurses, etc. Then we start growing up, and our plans change.

In middle school, our plans were molded based on our friends and whatever was cool at the time. Eventually, we went to high school and this question became serious, along with some others: “What are your plans for college?” “What are you going to major in?” “When do you think you’ll get married?” “Are you going to stay friends with your friends?” We are bombarded with these questions we are supposed to have answers to, so we start making plans.

Plans, like going to college with our best friends and getting a degree we’ve been dreaming about. Plans, to get married as soon as we can. We make plans for how to lose weight and get healthy. We make plans for our weddings and children.

SEE ALSO: 19 Pieces Of Advice From A Soon-To-Be 20-Year-Old

We fill our Pinterest boards with these dreams and hopes that we have, which are really great things to do, but what happens when you don’t get into that college? What happens when your best friend chooses to go somewhere else? Or, what if you don’t get the scholarship you need or the awards you thought you deserved. Maybe, the guy you thought you would marry breaks your heart. You might gain a few pounds instead of losing them. Your parents get divorced. Someone you love gets cancer. You don’t get the grades you need. You don’t make that collegiate sports team. The sorority you’re a legacy to, drops you. You didn’t get the job or internship you applied for. What happens to you when this plan doesn’t go your way?

I’ve been there.

The answer for that is “I have this hope that is an anchor for my soul.” Soon we all realize we are not the captain of our fate. We don’t have everything under control nor will we ever have control of every situation in our lives. But, there is someone who is working all things together for the good of those who love him, who has a plan and a purpose for the lives of his children. His name is Jesus. When life takes a turn you aren’t expecting, those are the times you have to cling to Him the tightest, trusting that His plan is what is best. That is easier said than done, but keep pursuing Him. I have found in my life that His plans were always better than mine, and slowly He’s revealing that to me.

The end of your plan isn’t the end of your life. There is more out there. You may not be the captain of your fate, but you can be the master of your soul. You can choose to be happy despite your circumstances. You can change directions at any point and go a different way. You can take the bad and make something beautiful out of it, if you allow God to work in your heart.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Patiently Waiting With An Impatient Heart

So, make the best of that school you did get in to. Own it. Make new friends- you may find they are better than the old ones. Apply for more scholarships, or get a job. Move on from the guy that broke your heart; he does not deserve you. God has a guy lined up for you who will love you completely. Spend all the time you can with the loved one with cancer. Pray, pray hard for healing. Study more. Apply for more jobs, or try to spend your summer serving others instead. Join a different club or get involved in other organizations on campus. Find your delight first in God and then pursue other activities that make you happy; He will give you the desires of your heart.

My friend, it is going to be OK.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Beavers Photography

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I Am Terrified Of My Future And That's OK

I'm sure most people are but so many of us are good at putting on that face and acting like we have our lives together.

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For a long time, I have been struggling with what my future is going to be. For most of my childhood I was always flighty in what I wanted to be and therefore I never spent much time thinking about where I would end up when I grew older.

Now I am a junior at Illinois State University as a Journalism major and quite frankly that scares me. I don't know where I am going to end up. So many of my professors love to tell us how miserable the job is. That you're doing more work than your being paid for and that there are not a lot of opportunities for journalism.

Literally thinking about my future terrifies me. It actually makes my anxiety act up and often times I start to snap at whoever brought up the conversation. I avoid the subject anytime it comes up or just brush it off with a, yeah I totally have a plan. When in reality everything about leaving college makes me want to curl in a ball on my bed under the blankets and never come out.

Slowly I have been getting better as I find a schedule but the unknown is what freaks me out. The reality is I can't control what happens to me all the time. I may get my dream job or I may end up working at the bottom of the corporate ladder for the entirety of my life.

I'm sure most people are but so many of us are good at putting on that face and acting like we have our lives together. The truth is probably everyone is scared to some degree but most of us know we have to act like we have everything together because that's what adults do.

So what I really want to say is that it's OK. You do not have to have your entire life planned out. You do not need this five year or even a one-year plan to be successful. All you really need is your end goal and then taking one step at a time to reach it.

Right now the one thing I need to do is graduate. I don't have to know where I'm working after college, heck I still have another year and a half before I even leave Illinois State. Learning that my future scares me and it's OK that it does is the only thing that I need to do.

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