Back to Where It All Began

At one point or another, we’ve all logged into TigerHub more than we should have in a 24-hour period.

Reasons for this vary. Perhaps you were checking grades. Perhaps you were trying to switch classes. Or perhaps you were checking to see what room your classes were in — something that has surprising power over where and when you’ll grab lunch during the semester. It’s amazing how “Location: TBA” is suspenseful enough to justify repeated trips through the Central Authentication Service.

I can’t say I’m immune to the suspense. As Intersession faded away, and neither of my two classes had room assignments, I kept checking to see if they’d been posted.

The first finally appeared: HIS 361: The United States Since 1974 — McCosh 50

Then the second: SOC 223: Hustles and Hustlers – McCosh 50

Who among us hasn’t waited for all 400 students to leave McCosh 50 so they could take a picture?

And just like that, I became a second semester senior with two classes in the same room, two hours apart. I found this to be an amusing coincidence. But it was also a nostalgic coincidence, because my last two Princeton classes would be in the same room as one of my first –I’d taken Econ 101 in McCosh 50 during my freshman fall.

I remember walking into McCosh 50 for the first time, looking around with wide-eyed excitement. It’s the kind of room that makes you feel important, like you’re connected to a long line of Princetonians who once sat in the same uncomfortable wooden chairs. Which, you are.

But by the third or fourth time you walk into the room, that feeling loses its salience. You’re not thinking about other Princetonians because you’re too busy becoming one yourself — planning how to hit the pre-reqs for the major you’re kind-of-but-not-really sure about, discovering the magic of late meal, making new friends. Before long, you’ve declared your major, you’ve written your JP, and you’ve finished your thesis research with just enough time to meet the draft deadline.

This last part still amazes me. Back in freshman year, ‘writing a senior thesis’ seemed like an abstract concept. It’s now very real — Like, 30-pages-done, more-than-30-pages-left-to-go real. As a freshman, I also never would’ve imagined choosing my current thesis topic (I was sure that I’d write about Major League Baseball, but life had other plans). Now, in the thick of thesis season, I’m becoming an expert in the topic I’ve chosen. That’s really exciting.

But it’s also really strange, as I’m reminded by my Monday/Wednesday classes in McCosh 50. The first time I walked into that lecture hall, I wasn’t an expert in anything. To think back on the ensuring years is to have a greater appreciation for all the knowledge — academic and not — that I’ve gained as a member of the Class of 2017.

It’s been a long journey. And at the risk of being an over-emotional senior, I’ll admit there’s something satisfying about a schedule that links back to where it all began.

— Melissa Parnagian, Social Sciences Correspondent