The days are slowly going by. In high school I often found myself asking, “is it really (insert month) already?” In college I often ask, “how is it only (insert month)?” Days used to rush by as they blended into weeks, months, and years. Now, each day is different and seems like a week. Perhaps it is because I can craft my own schedule and make each day’s activities unique. Perhaps it is because I have some more free time. I am not sure what has changed my perception of time, but I enjoy this slower feel much more.
Monday– In the evening, I went to a group dinner at Whitman with the University’s President Chris Eisgruber. As the college’s president, he is rather popular amongst the students. During the dinner, we discussed the pre-read book Our Declaration by Danielle Allen ’93. One student fell asleep in the middle of the discussion. He was sitting in the chair directly across from the president. I was pretty active in the talk. At the end, I asked the president a question that I probably shouldn’t have, and the conversation went something like this:
“Me: President Eisgruber, I have a question that I probably shouldn’t ask until I have my diploma in hand, but I’m impatient and can’t wait four years so I’ll ask it anyways.
Eisgruber: Oh boy, here it comes. What is it?
Me: The other day, I went to Princeton Cemetery to find the grave of Aaron Burr. While I was there, I noticed that there was a plot where all of the past University presidents are buried. So do tell me, when you go to the Great Princeton In The Sky, will your final resting place be in Princeton Cemetery next to the previous presidents?
(The other students and administrators hold their breath and stare at me in disbelief.)
Eisgruber: (laughs) No, I don’t think so and I have two reasons. First, I’m Jewish and that’s a predominantly Christian cemetery. Second, I think my wife and I will pick a spot that will be more meaningful to us. I’m surprised that you know about this. I didn’t even know about it until a few years ago when someone told me in my office.
Me: I thought I would ask because I didn’t know if it was in the job’s contract. So many of them are buried there that I wasn’t sure if the line would continue.
Eisgruber: I don’t think anyone would take the job if that were a requirement. It’s not in the fine print.”
I can probably expect my financial aid to disappear in the middle of the night. At least I left a memorable impression of myself in his memory.
This week is campaign week for students who are running for class office. Some knock at the doors of your dorm room. Others approach you at lunch (I guess I have that “freshman” look). Cheezy posters are everywhere. There’s at least five new campaign posts in the Class of 2020 Facebook group every day. And most of them have the same platform. Among the 29 candidates running for 5 positions are: the aforementioned student who fell asleep at the dinner and this guy below. I think that he will definitely win (I say this with a mix of sarcasm and truth).
Tuesday– **BIG NEWS!** Professor Duncane Haldane wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work pertaining to topological matter. Despite the enormity of this achievement, I sat through two physics classes and neither of the professors happened to mention the Nobel Prize. What is this place?! I know that a Princeton professor wins a Nobel Prize every few years and that “class time should not be wasted,” but this should still be worthy of taking 2 minutes to mention in class. I had to go to my professor’s office hours on Wednesday to learn exactly what it is that Professor Haldane studies. Basically, he researches ways to change the properties of matter. He is held in high regard by his peers and is considered to be brilliant.
One of the simple joys of Princeton is seeing famous people at the most random locations on campus. While I was strolling along Goheen Walk, I casually passed by world-renowned philosopher Peter Singer (he practically started the animal rights movement, among other things).
I went to two guest lectures for geosciences on this day too. The first was by a Chinese researcher from Peking University who studies volcanism in northeastern China. He went to Princeton for graduate school in the 1980s. The second was by another Princeton graduate. She recently wrote a book on race, history, and nature as it related to the American landscape.
In the evening, I watched the Vice Presidential Debate at the Whig-Clio’s viewing party. People clapped when they agreed with certain points. They served sushi and bubble tea.
Wednesday– I went to a guest lecture hosted by the Whig-Clio. It featured Princeton graduate Travis LeBlanc ’99. After graduating from Princeton, he attended Yale Law School, received an MPA from Harvard, and went to Cambridge for an LLM. This guy is super educated. He talked about his experience in government work, starting in the Office of Legal Counsel (“the President’s lawyers”), transferring to the Office of the Attorney General of California, and then landing in the Federal Communications Commission. Afterwards, I went to a dinner with him and other students to talk further. I learned a lot from this lecture. During election years and following scandals (like the VA or IRS), politicians tend to villainize the federal government, however we should remember that there are hard working, highly educated people, like Mr. LeBlanc, who are trying to help everyday Americans.
That night, I had two interviews for clubs. First, I went to Campus Club for The Daily Princetonian editorial board’s interview. That was a grilling. There were about ten people sitting around a table in the building’s library. They asked a lot of very specific questions that stemmed from my application. I could tell from the facial expressions that there were three people in the back who strongly disliked what I had to say. There were a few people in the front who appeared to take a peculiar curiosity in me. I will admit that I put on quite a performance. Overall, I doubt that I will be accepted. Next, I went to an interview for the Undergraduate Student Government’s social media chairmanship. This one went much more smoothly.
Thursday– I attended a lecture on climate change. It actually was not about the science of climate change itself; rather an anthropologist reported her findings on how climate scientists govern themselves while in Antarctica.
For dinner, I went to my weekly stop at the Graduate School. That night they had a custom ravioli station. Desert was a double chocolate cake. Yes, I will admit that I am spoiled at this college.
During the evening, I attended a performance by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Regular ticket prices were $90, but with a student discount I got one for $10. Their music was fabulous. Pianist Stewart Goodyear played with them.
During intermission, I walked outside. I saw a throng of people walking over to Holder Courtyard and heard students chanting “USA” in that direction. After the concert I walked around the Courtyard. There was shaving cream everywhere. I also spotted shaving cream in Whitman’s north courtyard and in the stairwell leading up to my dorm. When I asked my roommate about this, he said that people were shouting “Quad” (one of the 11 eating clubs). I guess this is an eating club thing? There were definitely too many people involved for it to be an acapella group. I am not quite sure what these shenanigans were about. **UPDATE 10/9/16** I learned that this too is part of the seasonal “pick ups” that are predominantly done by performing arts groups. When someone passes try-outs, the group surprises them at his or her dorm and puts a bunch of shaving cream in the inductee’s face. **END OF UPDATE**
Saturday– I went on a long walk to explore other sights on campus. More about that in other posts.