My dream weekend at Princeton University

A few years ago, my friend and I were walking around Nassau Street (downtown area near Princeton University) and asked a local for places to go around town. He told us about Eating Clubs…apparently students at Princeton go to eating clubs to socialize. There is no Greek life there but this is their equivalent to some degree.

We tried to go in to see what the fuss was about and realized it was an exclusive party.

EastConn: This past weekend I went to Princeton University for a conference. I have been walking around the campus every night to clear from my day and took pictures of event fliers open to the public. EastConn, a conference about pop culture in eastern Asia was coming up as it’s first year conception.

How neat! I signed up and was very excited to attend and learn beyond what I knew from the news. I learned about KPop (Korean Pop Music) and our keynote speaker produced 5 out of the top 10 Korean cinemas of all time.

The information was fascinating but I am going to focus on a few personal anecdotes that brought me the most joy this weekend.

1) Dining Hall: I have always wanted to eat at the dining hall to see if ivy league food was any good. It was terrible. Rutgers University should be very proud of it’s diverse amount of food catering to all nationalities and food preferences. As a vegetarian I barely had options and when I asked a few meat eaters, they were not too pleased either. But I was still really happy to have had the experience. I don’t have to wonder anymore.

2) I stayed over in a university dorm. Walking around campus has been lovely but I wanted to see what is on the inside. If you have ever walked around campus I’m sure you have admired the architecture and green landscape as much as I have. It is remarkable. Many people equate it to what Hogwartz looks like. When I stayed at the dorm I was sure to take pictures from the window showing the different perspective an interior third floor angle got me vs. the pictures I already had. The insides were just like any typical dorm. The outsides are more spectacular so we are not missing out on anything living wise. Well the one really neat thing is that almost every dorm has a dining hall attached to it…so the convenience must be outstanding. Douglass ladies, do you remember how far we had to walk to Neilson after Cooper closed? Oh boy do I miss my Coops!!

3) I went to a dance performance that was so thrilling! The audience was full of loud screaming fans. One gentleman screamed “Afro-” and the rest of the audience said “diSiac” to finish the chant. The dance company’s name is “diSiac”. I yelled “diSiac” a few times as well. It was like being in a football arena, except we were all in small theater of the student center. The audience enthusiasm was just as electric as I feel in a stadium full of people. It was beautiful. I was informed that almost every dorm has a dance studio because there are so many dance crews on campus.

The performance I went to was 90 minutes of hip hop and modern dance. They took turns. A fast number…then a slow and poetic movement. They even featured bangra (Indian dance) in the middle as their special surprise for the evening. I grinned from ear to ear. I was accompanied by a conference attendee so I wasn’t alone. I usually go to these things alone but it was very nice to have someone next to me that I could share that experience with. She pointed out the people who she thought were amazing and I turned to her every time someone defied gravity.

4) Dream come true: I usually get all of this pent up energy from a dance performance or musical because I too, love to entertain. When I saw Footloose performed at my old high school (I switched high schools in 10th grade but went back to watch the play to support my peeps!) I kept thinking, I should be up there!

This time, me wanting to dance was really good timing because I was on the guest list for an Eating Club!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. This came to me a peaceful and joyful manner. All conference attendees were welcome to join the club’s first KPop party. The music featured asian pop music, the very topic of our conference so it all tied in very nicely. In the beginning nobody danced. I watched music videos and was intrigued at how the other part of the world was marketing themselves. I often go to India and watch local artists there and have also been exposed to international music on the plane/during layover at airports but I think I was always a bit dismissive. I would always make comparisons to how the music is in the United States without understanding how the music I was hearing was experienced by locals of that country.

Some panels provided great insight on how KPop is taking over many parts of the world. The best way I can describe it to you, is how we look at soccer. Soccer is a world sport. I believe it is huge in all countries and is only a footnote in American culture. But caucaisan kids in Denmark are listening to KPop they way we know the world listens to Michael Jackson. It’s that big. I started to see the music in the context of local culture and not just in the context of sensationalized media.

So I’m doing all of this thinking and observing and then this lovely student Liz came to me and a few other people and asked if we were going to start dancing. She got us all started and I had a ball! I applied what dance moves I had to this foreign music and it worked. Beats are beats. Dancing has no rules. I felt alive. I felt welcome. I felt included.

Last night: Last night I walked around Princeton again. It all felt so different now that I stayed over a few days back. I was calmer now. I had been included and the mystery disappeared.

Well I will always be left wondering a few things. Like about how different a Princeton grad’s network is then mine. I love my network and am so grateful for my connections but…well the keynote speaker was the father of an undergrad who put this together. He was about to launch a rock band. He was introduced to her professors and I mean there is some serious power coming from Ivy leagues. Six out of 9 Supreme Court Justices went to Harvard or Yale Law School and 3 out of those 6 went to Princeton University for undergrad.

5) Tour: I forgot to mention that we got a tour before the panels started. It has been on my to-do list but the tour just happened…so all of you House lovers…the external hospital frames were established by filming the Frist Campus Center exterior. There is also a classroom in Frist that was Einstein’s classroom and it has been maintained in the same order as when he taught (I didn’t see this yet but we all need some things to look forward to)!

You can have this too…there’s an app for it!: If you are getting jealous or are moved to also attend events on campus, just download the free Princeton University app. It included a map of the campus and lists events open to the public. I’m so pleased I learned about this…now I can stop taking pictures of fliers around campus!!

I hope you find the best experiences you have always wanted, and continue to expand your network with outstanding people because I cannot be the only one who is looking.

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