From the Philippines to Princeton

It’s been about six weeks since I first set foot on the campus of Princeton University as a student, and I can honestly say that I’ve loved every minute of it. Everyone has been really nice, the atmosphere has been great, and it has really left me with a great sense that I definitely made the right choice to come here.

I arrived on campus on the morning of August 28th for the start of the International Orientation, which is essentially what the name suggests – all the international students arrived a few days early to orient themselves on US and Princeton culture in general. This was a fantastic introductory experience for me – I met so many people from different countries (Moldova, Romania and Uganda to name a few), and IO was full of so many great activities like a scavenger hunt around the whole campus, a canoe trip, and party for all the international students. A lot of the people I met during IO are my really good friends now, and I still eat and talk with a lot of them regularly.

A week after IO came the official Opening Exercises, where the president of the university, Christopher Eisgruber, gave his welcoming remarks to the Great Class of 2017. This was followed by a pre-rade, where the Class of ’17 walked through the FitzRandolph Gate for the first time (legend has it we’re not supposed to walk out of that gate for the rest of our stay at Princeton, or else we won’t graduate on time). We also had a step sing, where the entire batch sat on the steps and learned the Princeton cheers and songs, and we also sang some popular hits like Get Lucky and Can’t Hold Us. The whole experience was really great – it’s a unique experience that I think is part of Princeton tradition, and it was so humbling and exciting to know that I was going to be a part of that.

After that, classes started, and I have to say that all my classes have been really, really fun. In Chemistry and Physics lecture we’ve had so many demonstrations like the one below, where we tried to recreate the famous fight scene in the Zorro movie. It’s been really great, and I’ve learned so much from everyone. In fact, a couple of nights ago, my roommates and I stayed up until 2 am just talking about math and the philosophy behind it, and as nerdy as that sounds, I honestly really learned so much. It just goes to show that excellence truly abounds everywhere around here.

There have also been so many great opportunities in terms of extracurriculars – right now I’m working with the Daily Princetonian as a contributor, and I’m also on the Princeton Tiger Magazine and part of the Aquinas Catholic Club. There are so many great clubs and organizations here – there’s one for jugglers, one for magicians, one for aspiring bartenders (which I actually signed up for and will take a class in), and all in all, there are so many ways to do what I love and make new friends.

Speaking of friends, the social scene has been great, too. The eating clubs are open every weekend, and there’s always something going on. There’s a thing at Princeton called lawnparties, where people dress up in their preppiest outfits and party on a Sunday afternoon – this fall, we had a lot of famous performers like Chiddy Bang, T-Pain and Aaron Carter. The whole thing was a great deal of fun, and it was pretty crazy to think that I was literally fifty feet away from Aaron Carter and T-Pain and the whole thing was free.

Also, the sheer amount of giveaways has been absurd – so far I’ve gotten two pairs of shades (and one with “Princeton ’17 on the frame), three T-shirts, one sweater, and a free tumbler. It seems like they give us something new every week, which I don’t mind at all – there’s a running joke that you never need to buy any clothes because of all the free stuff they give.

Finally, I’d just like to talk about the great opportunities I got here – I was able to see the President of Tunisia give a talk here, I’m going to the talk of a key figure in the Palestinian Liberation movement tomorrow, and I’ve gotten to meet Maria Ressa, head of Rappler. There’s always something new and exciting that they plan for us – they’re giving discounted tickets to Broadway plays, operas and ballet recitals, which I definitely plan to take advantage of.

All in all, this first month has been really great, and I totally look forward to the rest of my journey here at Princeton. The whole experience has been so overwhelming, and I am really thankful I made the choice to come here.

Lorenzo Quiogue graduated high school from Ateneo de Manila University in 2013. He now attends Princeton University as part of the class of 2017.