Updated: Dec 8, 2018
Being a student is tough, but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a strong character and work ethic. While my schedule at Princeton is rigorous, I’m grateful for the way that it has shaped and developed my life. I’ve honestly never been more passionate about my work than I was during my four years here. Here is a typical weekday as a senior student-athlete in the Slavic Languages and Literatures department.
I wake up at 7am, probably tired from the usual routine of late-night studying and trying to meet the deadline for my 120-page senior thesis. The 8am mandatory weight lifting (we call it “lift” for short) for the fencing team weighs on my soul like a mile-long snake. If you’re late too many times, it gets marked on your record and you could get pulled out of a tournament. In a frenzy, I’m already running for the door because Jadwin Gym, the furthest building south, is a 25-30 minute walk from my far-north dorm, and that doesn’t include time in the locker room needed to change into proper gym uniform. If you wear the wrong color t-shirt on any day, you’re also punished.
“Gather around, everyone. FOCUS UP. Focus up, focus up! Get in a circle NOW. Jumping jacks, GO. Count out loud!”
We do our jumping jacks, and from there we continue the cascade of warm-up exercises ranging from planks to running drills to push-ups. The rest of lift is a series of intense exercises with weights mixed with other flexibility exercises.
We leave around 8:50am with no time to shower for our 9am classes. Often, we are late to class. We always arrive sweaty and smelling like weight room rubber.
9am - 2pm (sometimes with a lunch break)
My classes are a mix of neuroscience and Slavic languages courses — Slavic for my Slavic major and neuroscience for my neuroscience minor. I speak only Russian in my Slavic courses, my favorite part of the day. Almost everyone in my classes is a heritage Russian speaker, and this challenge pushes me to keep improving and keep up with the pace of the conversation. I have occasional meetings with my senior thesis advisor and departmental representative to discuss progress on my thesis.
I hurry back to Jadwin Gym for my private lesson with my coach.
3:45pm - 4:30pm
I cram reading and homework into the small gap between my private lesson and fencing practice.
4:30pm - 6:30pm
I have to be back, for the 3rd time that day (though some days only twice a day, if I don’t have a private lesson) at the training room, this time for regular fencing practice. This includes footwork, drills, and fencing.
7:15pm - 8pm
After showering and changing in the locker room, I eat dinner at Colonial, my eating club. At Princeton University, many upperclassmen join eating clubs, which are individual houses on campus dedicated to meals, social activities, and unique facilities available to all members.
8:30pm - 1:30am
I work on homework: a combination of daily assignments, research reports, and writing my senior thesis. Sometimes, I try to work on job applications, but there often isn’t time, so it doesn’t happen every day.
1:30am - 2am
I start falling asleep on top of my homework from exhaustion.
I head back to my dorm and go to sleep if I’ve finished everything for the day. I set multiple alarms to make sure I wake up early the next morning. The next day, I wake up and repeat.
Despite my incredibly grueling schedule, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. It’s a huge privilege to be a Slavic studies student and a student-athlete, and I wouldn’t have gained the experience and discipline I have today if it hadn’t been for this schedule.