I made a goal this year to take more time to relax and gain new perspectives outside of campus. This means different things for different people. For me, it entails jumping on opportunities to step away from the insulation and pressures of Princeton. As much as I love going to NYC and Philly for daycations, SEPTA and NJ Transit costs add up, both in time and money.
Instead, I’ve been actively looking for alternative ways to escape campus, without ever setting foot off of it. Let me explain.
Since I study French and International Relations, my schedule is packed with humanities and social sciences classes. This leaves little room for natural science courses. Therein lies a problem—I’ve had a passion for space since I was a kid. But I don’t have the room in my schedule or the prerequisite knowledge necessary to take an astrophysics course. Solution: I bought several books to feed my curiosity. Reading about astronomy allows me to momentarily escape the limits of my Princeton schedule while cultivating a longtime personal interest.
Reading is enriching, but hard to delegate time for. To get quick relaxation, I recently started meditating. I read about some of its health benefits, such as reducing stress and anxiety, and was inspired to commit to just ten minutes a day. Though it is too soon to gauge any changes, I have found fulfillment in actively focusing on myself instead of on Princeton’s demands.
Gaining an outside perspective also involves awareness of my own environment. The insulation on campus can make this difficult, so I found a simple way to keep myself informed. I enabled news notifications on my phone so I get an obnoxiously loud signal any time something important happens in the world. I then read the summary, skim the article, and ask friends to fill in the gaps. This is the easiest way I’ve found to keep myself updated and foster discussion of pertinent current events.
Princeton is a bubble for a reason: it’s a hub of ambitious and energetic people going through some intense demands. While I’ve found some comfort in this shared experience, I am aware of how easy it is to become too preoccupied with work to notice–and take part in–the world around us. There are little ways to become more aware, and the best part is, I don’t have to leave my cozy bubble to find them.
— Elise Freeman, Social Sciences Correspondent