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Taking back the weekend

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the phrase, “College is the best four years of your life!” Seeing as I am only a little more than a quarter of the way through college, I can’t really vouch for the truth of this statement. But I can say, it has taken me only one year to realize that, much to my dismay, these “best four years” are generally considered so mostly because of the parties and pregames.

This is particularly strange for me, because I had fairly low expectations for the party scene at Princeton. But with the University only a mere hour away from New York and an hour (or so) away from Philly, I was confident that my nightlife would be varied, my weekends full of spontaneous trips outside quaint suburbia. With family and friends in New York and Philly, I envisioned myself leaving campus often.

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Needless to say, classes and train tickets didn’t make these trips very feasible. Moreover, the nightlife on campus was actually decent. Any given Thursday or Saturday, there were a number of pregames and, after learning the system of eating clubs and passes, finding a club to settle into was easy enough. But it only took about three or so nights out to see how this Street culture establishes a repetitive cycle: Find passes, get dressed, pregame, go to the Street and make it to some final destination of your choosing. When I realized this, I grew worried that this monotony would constitute my entire Princeton experience. The year was barely underway, and my friends and I had already found ourselves in a rut. Whether this was a rut of my own doing, or the result of the pressure to not waste my four years here, I can’t say. But I knew If I wanted a change, I would have to create it myself.

So I stepped out of that rut. I could drink tea and eat delicious cookies at Murray-Dodge and play Apples to Apples. I could stargaze on the dewy grass and not mind when sprinklers rained over my friends and me. We could stay up and talk about nothing or everything until three in the morning. And if I needed a complete change of scenery, those cities that had once been the home of my imagined social scene were still just a train ride away. New York beckoned with its shows and galleries, Philly with its history and cheesesteaks.

But while I realized there were plenty of other adventures to be had outside of the Street, I also discovered that these adventures put off many people. I’d hear “You missed WHAT night at Cottage?” or “You should’ve totally been there for …”’ And to that I say, really? I love going “out” as much as the next person. I love the friends, the mindless dancing, the, ahem, libations. Still, do not ask me if I would rather go to Two Articles night at Cloister or see a show at the Met.

I’m going to choose the latter.

Because at the end of the day, I’m going to cherish the memory more. I’m going to remember that time I got lost in Union Square, asked four New Yorkers for directions before someone would help me and found out that this particular New Yorker was also heading to the same show. I’m going to remember making the walls of Webster Hall shake as we stomped to the beat of the bass. And I’m going to remember finding a hole-in-the-wall KFC, scarfing down potato wedges and sweet tea on the ride home, giggling with my friend as people gave us annoyed side glances.

This is not to say I’ve given up the Street altogether. I’m sure I will continue to frequent it, especially when particular annual events occur. But under no circumstances will I go when I don’t want to. What’s more, there will be just as many nights during which I lounge in random fountains, start Netflix marathons with friends, find shows to attend and, most of all, create those unforgettable memories I hear so much about. If these are to be the “best four years of my life” they cannot be defined by a lackluster cycle of clubs and parties. If there is one word I would use to describe what college should be, I would say adventure. And while one can’t determine what form adventure will arrive in, I can almost certainly say it won’t always rest on a tidy little street in Princeton, N.J. You must go out and find it.

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Lea Trusty is a sophomore from Saint Rose, La. She can reached at ltrusty@princeton.edu.

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