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Scholar Check-in: Julie Kwong

Princeton University, Freshman

After the week long fall break, I came back to Princeton and the ball started rolling again. I continued to work on the essay I started before break and started some research in the university archive library for a paper about after-the-fact opposition to coeducation at Princeton in the early 1970s. It is so amazing that we have access to the university’s primary artifacts from its history!

This week has been relatively manageable in terms of school work; however, the spring course offerings are now released! While this is very exciting, it is difficult to choose courses that will create a reasonable schedule and the question always seems to be whether or not I am choosing the right classes and really taking advantage of the “exploration” process. Currently, though, I am considering taking an introductory Computer Science course, Psychology, and American Studies. Luckily, before anything becomes official, I have a meeting scheduled with my academic adviser next week to discuss my schedule and plans.

On another note, it snowed on campus last week! There was a good 3-4 inches, enough for people to have snowball fights, make snow angels, and even create life-size snowmen! The campus looked beautiful; it was definitely an exciting time for everyone as it was the first snow of the year!

I have gradually gotten closer to the members in my CSA family and have even begun to talk to my classmates outside of class. I agree this is a slow process, but I am happy my friend circle is expanding. Additionally, I applied to become a tutor at a community tutoring company. The manager verified that I was qualified to be a member of their team, so as of now, I am waiting for them to process my paperwork and match me with a client. I can’t wait! Again, I feel so grateful to be going to this school; yesterday, I went to see “The Lion King” on Broadway, which turned out to be a spectacular show as we got superb seats near the stage! There is such a great balance between academic and social life. We have a lot of work to do, but we have many opportunities to relax as well. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my family, friends, teachers, CDI counselors, and the Princeton community for allowing me the chance to learn at such a fantastic institution in all respects.

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Scholar Check-in: Julie Kwong

Julie Kwong (photo by Rob Crue)

Princeton University, freshman

These past two weeks have been filled with times of joy and fear. Fear, you may be asking. Well, I enrolled myself into four courses in the beginning of the semester, which included a writing seminar, Spanish, Math, and a class of 19th century poetry. I had switched myself out of the recommended calculus class into a much more proof-based math course that all math majors are required to take. Because I was already a day behind and the content of the course was time-consuming to understand, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I sat in the lectures in confusion, desperately trying to compare the instructor’s writing with the textbook. I would find myself rushing to my dorm to study and attempt to at least comprehend the basics of the concept. This I did for a few days until I finally convinced myself that, one, I cannot major in Math, and two, that I should drop the course now before it is too late.

Unfortunately, I am slightly a step behind the others in my new classes, but I am so glad I made the move early! The first semester of freshman year should be a time of exploration, not a time to immerse yourself in classes that you don’t find interesting and that are, to be honest, well above your head and overwhelming. I do not mind being overwhelmed by the amount of work in a class; in fact, if it is a fascinating topic I don’t mind stressing over reading hundreds of pages. There’s a lot to do, but at least I enjoy it and can follow the class and the assignments. On the bright side, my new classes are fantastic! I dropped the math course and the 19th century course (I realized that I was not very fond of this subject as well) and switched into a Freshman Seminar on Coeducation and an Introduction to Architectural Thinking. The professors in both these classes are great, and while there is a lot of reading and writing in all, I am learning a lot of fascinating information. So far, I have completed my first college essay (currently a draft, but very close to a final), and have found that compared to high school, homework and readings are heavily referred to in class.

Since I enrolled in the Freshman Seminar a week into the course, I was expected to read 200 pages of a book as well as a couple of articles in one day. I pushed through and I’m glad I did, because the entire class was a student-led discussion on the book. College is definitely different than high school. I attended a session on time management and the instructor said something that will always stick with me: “Work early and play later. There is more free time than you think.” Saving Facebook, Internet surfing, and e-mail for the end of the day allows me to take advantage of the daylight hours for homework and studying. If I carefully plan my day and take advantage of my time, really, the work is not as stressful. And, there’s a lot of time to have fun too.

In terms of extracurricular activities, I auditioned for two acapella groups just for the experience. Surprisingly, I got called back to one of the groups! While I didn’t end up making the cut, I am very glad I took the opportunity to try something new. In addition, my hallmate and I have grown close and we have been eating meals together as well as playing badminton to work out! It is definitely important to have some physical activity at least three times a week and I am so happy that I am making exercise a part of my weekly routine. Lastly, I interviewed for a position on the freshman council of our university’s Chinese Student Association (CSA) and found out yesterday I made it! I am excited to be a part of this group and to feel a part of an organization on campus.

Scholar Check-in: Julie Kwong

Camping with my new friends.

I am having a great time here at Princeton! Move-in day was a success and I had my family and relatives there to help the process move smoothly and comfortably. I live in Buyers Hall in Rockefeller (Rocky) College, possibly the most convenient location to live because of its accessibility to the street of convenience stores and restaurants and the campus’s main centers. I arrived and spent the first night camping, on campus, with my Outdoor Action (OA) group in preparation for what was to come in the next week. I have made many new friends through the camping trip and they are all so friendly and supportive as well. I have to say that the camping trip was the greatest thing ever! We went to Shenandoah Valley in VA, which was about a 5-hour bus ride from Princeton.

Although at times it was difficult to hike for hours on end, I felt so wonderful in the end knowing that I had accomplished the trail/goal. We hiked about 4-5 miles per day, set up tents in the woods, and spent a lot of time getting to know each other and just enjoyed the environment and new experience.  I was really challenged on the trip since I am not athletic at all. But here I am today, proud to say that I hiked a total of at least 20 miles last week! I feel so great and have made friends that I know I will keep for a long time. I broke out of my shell a bit, too, as I participated in games that I normally wouldn’t find interesting (because they are humiliating and a bit embarrassing). We all shared innumerable laughs, learned a lot about how to live in the outdoors, and picked up some new games.

Specifically, I learned to play a little bit of the ukulele and really bonded with the other students as we cooked, ate, slept, and did everything else together! On one of the nights, we even decided to squeeze all seven of us into a tent that is only meant for five! We were that comfortable and close with each other! In addition, the leaders were so open and fun. Things could only get better! The trip was awesome and I wish I could go back and do it again! After the trip, we came back to a lot of orientation events on campus, ranging from art performances to lectures on public safety. All of these sessions were extremely informative and helpful and I met a lot of people who gave me advice on how to choose classes and how to balance academics with social life. I also went to the eating clubs with my friends, which host parties that serve alcohol at night. However, I didn’t enjoy them because all the people did was stand around getting drunk. My camp leader told us that the parties will be much more fun during the year.

This Sunday there is going to be a lawn party (concert) with the band Third Eye Blind! I am excited to attend my very first concert! I have met some great people in my hall as well and our RCA is so nice, fun, and extremely helpful with everything! I have no idea how everything is working out in my favor. I feel extremely grateful! In addition, I feel pretty certain on pursuing a Math major since it is such a versatile field. If I wanted to go into finance, I could, or even become a math teacher like I have always wanted! I could also get a certificate in education as well as in finance. But for now, as many upperclassmen have suggested, I am going to fulfill my general education requirements by choosing courses I am interested in learning more about, not necessarily choosing courses to fulfill particular certificates. I enrolled in classes yesterday and am signed up for classes between 11a.m. to about 3p.m., which includes Spanish, Math, Writing Seminar, and an English poetry course. I am excited to see what is to come and experience the real college academic life.

On another note, the campus is absolutely gorgeous! I constantly find myself staring at the buildings and snapping shots of random landscapes. There is still so much more to see and learn here, making this the most perfect educational environment for me. Not to mention, the food in the dining halls is so delicious and presents a lot of variety! The next four years here will no doubt be four years to remember for the rest of my life!

More pictures:

Rocky Dining Hall

My desk

Buyers Hall

CDI Scholar Check-In: Julie Kwong Goes to Princeton

Julie Kwong (photo by Rob Crue)

Over the course of the next year, two of our Scholars–Julie Kwong and Mauricio Novoa–have agreed to deliver bi-weekly check-ins for posting here on the blog. Today we publish the first of these, by Princeton freshman Julie Kwong. In this post she discusses her transition to college life.

Within the past three weeks, I completed all of the necessary assignments for Princeton, including the Freshmen seminar application essay and language placement test. I am satisfied with the results of the placement test, as I am placed in Spanish 105; by the end of this year, I will have completed the language requirement and have the ability to sign up for different classes for the next school year. In addition, I applied for a Federal Work Study job on campus and even spoke to the coordinator of the job I applied for.
           Since I need to complete about 290 hours (assuming a pay rate of $10 per hour) to satisfy the allotted $2900 for federal work study, I may have to work around 9 hours a week. I am a little bit worried, though, because I am sure I will have a lot of time-consuming work for my classes as well and would like to participate in a couple extracurricular activities. I am excited nonetheless for the job opportunity!
            I have been spending a lot of my time navigating the university website and learning more about college life and academics, and I’ve been an active questioner in the class Facebook group. Also, I have been packing for both a camping trip and for college living and, quite honestly, I had no idea I would need to bring so many things! This week has definitely been bittersweet; I gathered with family and friends to celebrate my departure on Saturday. I am really looking forward to starting this journey, but I will also miss seeing the people I love everyday.