For many freshmen at Princeton, a critical part of the orientation experience is embarking on a three-night, four-day trip into the wilderness with little to no access to precious necessities such as restrooms, a comfortable place to sleep, or cell service. However, despite these minor inconveniences, this special excursion frequently proves to be a unique, unifying adventure, encouraging excellent character development in all its participants. Listed below are some of key lessons learned by freshmen during their OA trips—lessons that they are sure to carry on with them into the rest of their forever-changed lives. 

  1. Cheese does not need to be refrigerated. It’s best not to think too much about it…or to look at it really.
  2. Trail spice is the real spice of life. There’s really nothing like a pinch of freshly-ground dirt and a smidge of crunched up leaves to bring some flavor to that lukewarm cheese.
  3. Showers and the state of being clean/non-smelly/presentable/a decent human being is relative. If no one else is doing it, you don’t have to either.
  4. You should brush your teeth every day, though. Cost of cavities adds up.
  5. A cup can be a bowl. A bowl could be a cup. In fact, a tortilla could be a bowl. Or a tortilla could be a cup. As Ginny Weasley once said, “anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
  6. The spoon must be unbreakable though. Non-negotiable.
  7. Your rain jacket is your best friend. If you don’t end up using it, it will have been there for you the whole time as a sort of safety blanket. If you do use it, you’ll never feel secure without it again. (Side note: definitely worth it to test your rain jacket’s endurance in the shower. You never know what’s coming at you.)
  8. Underwear 1/day. This suggestion is not woman-exclusive.
  9. Garbage bags are your second best friend. The more the merrier. Garbage bags are your magical defense shields from the brutal outdoors. Put something in, and it’s guaranteed utmost protection.
  10. One must be stern as a mule. Always.
  11. Just add water. To tomato powder. To milk powder. Any powder. Any water. Any time. Anywhere.
  12. Never underestimate the importance of having a friend who used to work at a restaurant. Keep them nearby at all times. You never know when life will hand you three onions and green bell peppers and just expect you to chop them up right then and there.
  13. Some people really like grilled chicken. Such things are only consistently found in the NCW/Yeh dining halls and not on OA trips. Make of that what you will.
  14. Your Disney Channel upbringing will come in handy one day. Camp Rock is an especially relevant piece of cinema.
  15. There are people in this world who can intuitively guess who the Mafia is. You can try to laugh it off, but, in the end, they will come for you.
  16. Also bring a few prospective-B.S.E’s with you. They will help to set up a safe, totally weather-proof shelter for you to sleep in while you make yourself helpful elsewhere.
  17. Even one optimistic person can do wonders. As it turns out, happiness is contagious.
  18. Embrace your love for the Weeny Man. One day you’ll change his life. YOU could be his Weeny Wife.
  19. Come up with a helpful tagline to introduce yourself to others. Some find it especially useful to compare their name to geographical features such as rivers.
  20. Cherish your mascot. This is your source of strength and inspiration when you feel like you just can’t take it anymore.
  21. LNT. ‘Nuff said.

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