Ed note: This is the first in a three part series all about staying on campus over the summer. Get ready.
From the last day of graduation to the first day of the academic year sign-in is exactly 100 days. 100 days of pure, uninterrupted solitude. Here is my story…
The bright glare of my laptop screen burns my eyes as I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed at 3am: A travel-itinerary status, an exotic #nofilter landscape, a profile picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. My left eye twitches in jealousy. I turn to SnapChat for some solace but am greeted by a SnapStory of an exotic vacation somewhere in the Mediterranean and the kid from Orgo’s life-changing internship in Timbuktu. A lone tear trickles down my cheek as I glance around my un-air-conditioned Spelman room – my summer housing, my summer prison. I shut my laptop and try to fall asleep as I remind myself why I thought staying on campus this summer seemed like a good idea. It takes me hours to fall asleep.
Picture courtesy of Nabil Shaikh and his extensive Snap stories.
Taking a stroll around campus makes me realize two things: one, Princeton really is beautiful. With the hectic schedule of the academic year, I forgot to take in all of its glory -- even Fine had a certain charm if you looked at it from a certain angle with your eyes closed. And two, Princeton was being overrun by middle school children. From Crew Camp to Science Camp and everything in between, the average age on campus is 12. I attempt to evade the flock of rampaging children by running to The Wa to eat my sorrows away and am met with a horrifying sight: The checkout line starts at the cashier, winds all the way to the milk display and back around to the sandwich counter. I shake my fist at the children and yell: “Curse you, middle schoolers! Curse you!” The children ignore my outburst and continue to buy their $5 hoagies.
I see a squirrel sunbathing in front of Dillon. Needless to say, it is the highlight of my day.
I decide to take a crack at cooking today (along with the help of my suitemate). On the plus side, Spelman is not burned down; however, it takes us three hours to prepare our masterpiece, that is, if you consider pasta with an omelet on top as true culinary art.
“The omelet on top”.
Princeton forgot that Reunions were over and erected a million fences around campus. As if dodging middle-schoolers and flocks of tourists wasn’t bad enough, I now have to walk around the never-ending picket fences. The struggle never ends.
Again, Princeton thinks that it is Reunions again and decides to throw a firework display to commemorate the 4th of July…. On the 2nd of July. So now, not only is campus overrun by a million middle-schoolers and herds of tourists, but basically everyone who lives in the state of New Jersey. On the plus side, the fireworks make Fine look half decent.
I decide to run away today. Somewhere where no one will find me, somewhere I won’t be recognized. SWEET, SWEET FREEDOM! I run all the way to New York.
It’s Sunday evening and I grudgingly return to campus: defeated and significantly more broke than when I first decided to run away.
My suitemate left. Loneliness never felt so real.
Me and all my Firestone friends!!
The cute little lady who works at EPS Corner remarks that this is the third time I’ve come in this week alone. I smile at her sweetly and tell her that she’s got the best Chicken and Broccoli on Nassau Street. This is a lie, the Chicken Broccoli is decent at best but I really don’t want to spend another night eating my stocked up cereal and Mac-and-Cheese-in-a-Cup alone in my room so I eat twice the amount of Chicken and Broccoli. My bulging stomach is my only company.
The suitcase of food my mother thought would help last me the summer: cereal, canned peaches and weird rice pudding.
It’s been raining all day. No, raining is an understatement… it’s pouring. It’s basically flooding. I half expect to see an ark filled with animals float by. Instead, I see a cold squirrel huddled under a tree near Dillon. Was this the same squirrel I had seen sunbathing a few weeks ahead? I decide that it is and the squirrel and I bond as I stand with it under the tree and curse myself for not having my umbrella with me.
My shoe broke. I think it’s because of the rain from yesterday. Middle school children watch me hobble home with a broken shoe in my hand. I can feel their judgement as I stumble around all the ridiculous fences.
Hallelujah! Today I get to eat free food. The catch? I have to speak to the FSI prefrosh on campus and tell them about my Princeton experience thus far. I have completely forgotten what pure social interaction feels like. A prefrosh asks me how I liked spending my summer on campus. I respond by stuffing my face with more free food.
I run into a group of middle-schoolers and one of them is wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. He yells “Welcome to Princeton!!” at me. I yell back that I have gone here for the last two years and that he should get a new sweatshirt.
I am caught in yet another flood as I run past the Woody Woo fountain and see a family doing a rain-dance in it. I try to find shelter in Campus Club. It is locked. I seek solace in Frist. It is closed. The U-Store is also empty of Tico juice. I walk home wet and cry myself to sleep.
Eisgruber turns up at work today. I throw him a ‘sup’ nod. He doesn’t return the favor and is also surrounded by important-looking people. I think nothing of this as I choose to SnapChat him to the rest of the world. It is the highlight of my summer.
My summer internship and class just ended. I am on my way home. I have failed. I have not survived 100 days on campus over the summer…
BYE PRINCETON! SEE YOU IN THE FALL!
P.S. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, I challenge you to actually survive the full 100 days of summer on campus.
P.P.S. But actually, please don’t.