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The Birth of a Tiger Cub

Arnav Joshi, Princeton 

I made it! I had gone through one of the most stressful phases of student life and emerged at the beginning of an amazing journey. Princeton. Despite the odds against  international applicants, I was now at the place I had only dreamed about just a year ago.


These were among the thoughts that raced through my mind as I set foot on the 202-year-old campus whose time-tested worldwide prestige made it a dream college for thousands of students each year. I could see why Princeton Alumni are so dedicated to their alma mater. Princeton was breathtakingly beautiful:  I gaped  at Nassau Hall and the scenic Blair Arch. I felt as though I had entered another world altogether, without even realizing the historic significance of some of the buildings that were now to be my home for four years. I looked at the tigers perched gracefully in front of Nassau Hall and already felt proud to be a tiger, albeit a mere cub.


Being an international, I was at Princeton half a week before most of my classmates. Over three days of hectic activities, icebreakers, orientation events, and dinners, I formed bonds that could compare with those made at my previous boarding school. Everyone fit together like pieces of a giant puzzle. The admissions process had done its job of curating another batch that would make a masterpiece. The three days of International Orientation were filled with the flurry of organized lunches and dinners at dining halls / eating clubs / courtyards, an exciting scavenger hunt, icebreakers in our college common rooms, tours of Princeton, outings to Nassau street, meeting more than a hundred new people from around the world, shopping and setting up our newfound rooms. (Two weeks later we were joking that International Orientation was even more hectic than Princeton’s engrossing schedule.)



(Dining at Hogwarts – or rather, Mathey College)

Next came the unforgettable Outdoor Action trip – almost a week of camping in a forest with bears while eating “Gorp” (M&Ms and dry fruits mix) and self-cooked food with a group of eight freshmen and three upperclassmen made us bond quickly and strongly. It was a remarkable beginning to the four years of college. On arriving back a week later to the civilized world of Princeton, the beauty of the campus was a feast for the eyes, as was the amazing food that the great chefs of Princeton’s dining halls had prepared. Another four days of orientation brought welcome speeches by deans, students and alumni who all applauded our making it through the selection process; meetings with the academic advisor; plays, dances, and party nights at eating clubs, all dedicated to the freshman. I had never felt so welcomed before. It was an exhilarating roller coaster ride – one that felt rewarding and filled with thrilling uncertainty at the same time.


(The Initiation ceremony in the Chapel)

By this point, we had grown accustomed to a hectic schedule, and that made a smooth transition to classes much easier. The first week, dubbed “frosh week”, was filled with open houses, club-organized events and tryouts. All these were publicized in informative and laid-back sessions. The weekend was reserved for partying at “The Street” (Prospect Avenue – the road with all the eating clubs), or for a relaxed time just watching the plays/dances/singing performances all around campus. Having done both, I was nothing less than awestruck at how Princeton’s Tigers were both extremely talented at what they pursued and could also relax and have a good time when necessary.




(A midnight study break, unwinding with the guitar)

The next two weeks were really exciting. We eased into academics with helpful undergraduate-focused professors treating us as the focus of all their attention, making sure we were never confused for long and that there was not too much work in the first two weeks of adding-dropping courses (no labs or assignments). By the third week, we were firmly set with our time commitments, establishing schedules according to the clubs and sports we got into or decided to pursue (Princeton Model United Nations Team, Fencing and Athletics for me). Most of us are well organized and committed to finishing work on time and exploring Princeton’s diverse academic curriculum and co-curricular sphere, having been used to a more rigid schedule in high school (at least in my case with IB in 12th grade). It has been an amazing ride until now, and it feels like I have just been born into this journey. These three weeks have seen the birth of a “Tiger Cub” in me.



(Princeton’s legendary lawnparties)

Arnav Joshi (Princeton ‘18)


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