Ah, Frosh Week. A bright spot in the lives of all Princeton students, the sweet collective calm before the furious academic storm of a school year. I see it now: brightly-clad freshmen wandering across campus in gaggles of eight, collectively lost despite three maps in hand; disheveled 20-somethings handing me overpriced textbooks in the basement of Labyrinth; students panting as they lug ratty couches up stairs in the God-forsaken humidity. But there really is something special in those bright and early days of a new school year, and it’s not just the wild abandon of freshmen getting drunk on the possibilities of college (and Beast, baby!).
It’s not, however, all straight-up good times for freshmen. We here at The Ink feel for you (we were freshmen once, can you imagine?) and decided to lay out some tips for new students. We know the opening week of college can be a difficult period: first time away from home, eternal awkward silences during your RCA meetings, your roommate kind of smells, what is this strangely Nazi-like salute everyone does while singing, you’re not a freshman girl so it’s impossible to get a beer anywhere.
To make transition to college a little easier, we’ve compiled a couple of tips and pointers to help you get through it all and come out on top. Not of your quintile, though; that’s pretty much impossible.
So here it is: The Ink‘s Freshman Guide to Princeton* (A three-part series).
PART I: DORM LIFE
Congratulations! You got into Princeton. But so did everyone else here, so let’s just all settle down a little. Please.
But really, this is your new home, and soon it’ll start to feel like such. We hope you’ve all settled in nicely in your awkwardly shaped room. There are a few things we should mention about living here, and about dorm life in general.
- Leave a sock on the door. Jesus.
- Are you lazy sometimes? Awesome! Princeton’s got you covered. You can catch a ride to wherever you’re going instead of walking there on TigerTransit (maps and schedule here). Great for lugging hundreds of pounds of books from Labyrinth to Forbes.
- Don’t panic if wild animals (squirrels, raccoons, etc.) break into your room. We’ve heard of many such incidents. That being said, do panic if said animals are foaming at the mouth/trying to attack you.
- Oh, you’re an athlete? Alright, dude, do everyone a favor and buy some air freshener. Because no one wants to smell your mildewy gear in an unventilated dorm room. We really appreciate it.
- You probably have a laptop on you by now, so expect the University to send you 20 emails a day about what obscure Jamaican-Australian activist-poet is coming to speak in your dining hall tonight. Although a lot of these emails concerning events are spammy (especially the barrage from your residential college), hold on to the Events Lists. They’re handy if you’re looking for a study break to crash, or have a free night for some culture.
- Doing laundry? Don’t leave your clothes in the washer or dryer for a week, only to have them moved, and then complain about losing a sock.
- Be nice to your RCA! They have snacks. And if you got a weird one, then… Well, they’re snacks, man, c’mon.
- Don’t do anything to/with your hallmates that would potentially make seeing them awkward, because, you’ll be seeing them. A lot.
- Don’t be that guy. You know what I’m talking about.
- Don’t be that girl, either. Uh huh.
- Fire Safety does inspections every so often, usually knocking only once before abruptly barging in, so 1) make sure you’re not naked when they come; 2) make sure if you are naked you tell them that before they open the door; and 3) don’t have any of these things in your room unless you want to get slapped with a ridiculous fine (okay, how is putting up a poster on a door in any way a fire hazard? Anyone?).
- Easy on the half-naked girl posters, guys. We’ll say two is alright, but three is definitely pushing it. We get it. You like boobs!
- A note on from getting place to place the first week or so: Don’t do what many freshmen before you have done: that is, chart all routes to class from Frist, or another campus landmark. While it may seem easier to go from Rocky to Frist to McCosh Hall, it’s… not. So, copy this handy guide into your palm. Bam, just got to class ten minutes earlier. And, please, no big maps in public. And stop wearing those lanyards. Do you LIKE being discriminated?
- As freshmen, you probably have a lot of time on your hands. While you can booze away the idle hours (college!), other interested parties recommend getting involved in activities, which isn’t such a bad idea. Go to open houses, attend lectures, and most importantly, go to the Student Activities Fair, going on this Friday in Dillon Gym. There’s a LOT of student groups to choose from, so whatever your interests, you’re bound to find something up your alley. Just… if you go to a cappella open houses, don’t have any of the Kool-Aid.
Moving on to the dormitories in general…
In case you haven’t heard of them, there are six residential colleges. You’ll be, you know, residing there. They’re becoming kind of a big deal on campus, thanks to the powers that be. We’re sure you’ve heard a lot about them from your orientations and your RCA, so we won’t bother with the administrative details. Here they are, for your perusal, complete with almost-totally-arbitrary food-rankings:
Do you like pretending you’re Harry Potter? Dreaming about running into Hermione? Should have gone to Brown!
But if you chose Princeton anyway, Rocky’s the place for you, but hopefully not too many freshmen are into reenacting acts of wizardry. (Because Whitman actually has Harry Potter night, and it’s as sad as you think it sounds.)
Rocky does indeed have some of the most stunning buildings on campus (check out the dining halls and Holder Courtyard if you haven’t yet), and some of the oldest to boot. Plus, Holder and Witherspoon are widely considered to be some of the poshest accommodations on campus. So if you landed one of these, enjoy it, you lucky bastard.
As for the food, we’ll have to give it top honors, as it boasts an impressive selection of fresh salads, well-made daily pasta and typical grill fare, a pizza oven, and some of the tastiest entrées on campus (calamari salad, anyone?). Also: Amazing waffle fries, I believe on Wednesdays.
Food ranking: 1st (with Mathey)
I’m going to be honest here; I have no idea where Rocky ends and Mathey begins. They look the same, they share a kitchen, all the buildings are interspersed with one another. That’s about all I can say for that.
The only thing that distinguishes the two in my mind is that Mathey has Blair Arch (campus’s largest one), which is impressive, sure.
As for the food, since Mathey and Rocky share their kitchen, it also gets top honors, by default.
Food ranking: 1st (with Rocky)
Ah, Wilson. In so many ways the unloved stepchild of the Princeton residential college family. Its buildings all look different, ranging from gothic revival to modern ugly. And its common room and library are kind of… Let’s face it, they’re ghetto.
But! Room locations are all pretty centrally located on campus, which means Frist is close, and other dining halls are all within a five-minute walk. But after this summer’s Wilcox renovation, you won’t have to! The new dining hall is more cafeteria than dining hall, but the food is stellar. Why does the frozen yogurt taste better here?
I guess you could say Wilson’s like the scrappy runt of the pack, which gives it some character and makes it kind of cute, but still makes it a scrappy runt.
Food ranking: 3rd –but on its way up (with Butler)
Okay, again, Wilson and Butler are in many ways one and the same to me. The big difference, of course, is that Butler has a brand new set of dorms, known as Wilf Hall and the affectionately named Buildings A, C, and D (Any donors out there? This is your chance.). We can’t speak too much about these, seeing as they’re brand new. All we know is that there are gardens on top of them.
And since Butler shares a kitchen with Wilson, things just got a lot rosier for Butlerites. But they’re still called Butlerites, their dining hall is the weird-looking Robert Venturi-designed Wu Hall, and…Nassau Street is really, really far away.
Food ranking: 3rd –but on its way up (with Wilson)
Shiny new Whitman is still fresh off the Acme Gothic machine, and seems to have been a success with its first two years of students. It boasts tons of roomy singles, and includes a nice selection of doubles and triples for your next room draw. It has a decent library (but with no books that I can recall), a warehouse-sized dining hall with somehow limited seating, and a broad range of facilities like the University’s Writing Center and printing stations throughout the college. There’s also a computer cluster from which you can bid on your favorite eBay™ auctions (Thanks Meg!).
As for the kitchen, the food is relatively great, with taco, salad, pasta, pizza, and made-to-order sandwich bars daily. Plus, there are some amazing falafel wraps at the grill sometimes that you have to try.
Food ranking: 2nd
Forbes (no one seriously calls it “The Inn”):
Yes, it’s far from everything. No, the brunch isn’t good as people say it is (in fact, it’s the same food as everywhere else). Suck it up.
But really, everyone in Forbes gets to know each other really well, and, yes, “have a tight-knit community.” You’d sort of expect that when everyone leaves together for class 15 minutes early in the morning.
There are advantages, of course: your room may have a personal bathroom, you never have to go outside to get to the dining hall (so you can literally spend the entire day indoors and in pajamas if you can live with yourself like that), and to make up for the sub-par food, there’s a generous selection of, uh, cereal and salad. And there’s chocolate fondue on Sunday mornings.
P.S. Don’t eat the pizza. Ever.
Food ranking: 4th
(Full disclosure: In spite of my giving it a hard time, I lived in Forbes for two years and very much enjoyed it, I guess.)
Well, that’s about it for dorm life. This guide is in no way exhaustive, so if you have any tips of yours to share, be sure to post them below.
Want more? Of course you do. Tune in later this week for more tips, including how to devastate preceptors and blow away professors with your sparkling wit and intellect. Or, as it’s known here, Part II: Academic Life.
*Please don’t actually listen to everything we write.
(image source: princeton.edu, myspace.com)