Staten Island Ferry

Jana Scheidemann-Fall 2020

View of New York City from the Staten Island Ferry

Our Term I at IAS – the pandemic experience

By: Jana Scheidemann

I could write a whole book about the adventure of having to get to Princeton during a pandemic, but I would rather concentrate on the time that my husband and I actually spent here. We flew in from Germany on what felt like a private flight because the airplane was on 20 % capacity on September 3rd. Prior to that we already knew that once we made it to Princeton and the IAS campus we would be safe, because of all the information we got via email and through the IAS website. Because of that we also knew about the possibility to shop online and get the groceries delivered to our door. We did not only use this service during our quarantine (which was necessary after our arrival) but also during the entire stay. It is a convenient and easy way of shopping when you do not have a car. We also discovered the fantastic IAS Food Shop, several bigger supermarkets in and around town and liked strolling around the centre of Princeton.

On one of our first weekends after the quarantine we took a train and discovered New York for a whole weekend. The connection via Dinky Station and Princeton Junction is great and the train was almost empty. We barely used the Metro but rather walked Manhattan up and down. It was not that busy and almost everybody was wearing a mask all the time. We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset, walked the High Line, saw the singing cowboy at the Times Square, were at Rockefeller Centre and in Central Park to name just a few typical sites. Another highlight was the free ferry to Staten Island that passes the Statue of Liberty and gives you a fantastic view of the Manhattan Skyline.

For a farther trip we rented a car for a weekend and headed up to the Delaware Water Gap. This was before Halloween so not only was the fall scenery beautiful, but we also saw a lot of Halloween decorations. On the way we stopped at the Hacklebarney State Park and hiked there for a while. I assume it is just one of many beautiful State Parks in this area. Since I had read so much about the Appalachian Trail in the past, I wanted to hike on it at least for a little bit. It took a while to find a parking space because it seemed that everybody in NJ had the same idea on that Saturday. What concerned us a bit at the beginning (Covid – crowd – not cool) was totally fine when we finally found our spot because the hikers spread out immediately, we even were alone quite a few times. On our way back on Sunday we mostly followed the borderline between New Jersey and Pennsylvania along the Delaware River, which was beautiful by itself, and we stopped at the stunning twin towns of New Hope / Lambertville to stroll around. Our last stop was New Jersey’s longest-running Corn Maze at the Howell Living History Farm. While my husband did this just to do me a favour in the beginning, he quickly liked the effort they put into it. It was not just a corn maze but a whole adventure with a game with riddles, hidden clues, and music.

But we did not always have to go that far to have a fun time. Right next to the IAS campus are the Institute Woods and the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge where we went for walks several times and always experienced something new. The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail goes on for several miles in both directions and is always beautiful to walk, bike or jog on. We bought a very inexpensive map from Kopp's Cycle (bicycle shop on Spring Street) and used it to find our way around here and to plan fun bike tours.

We rented a canoe at the Princeton Canoe Rental right at Alexander road and had a lot of fun on the water. It was easy to canoe there and we were lucky enough to see some turtles. On several Sundays we walked over to the Princeton Graduate College to listen to the beautiful and very impressive Carillon concerts that take place every Sunday at 1 pm. It is just so wonderful to hear Casablanca’s “As Time Goes By” or the Jeopardy melody played by bells.

There are so many parks in and around Princeton and we walked through a lot of them and it was always great, here are just a few: Marquard Park, John Witherspoon Woods, Herrontown Woods, Princeton Battlefield State Park.

For us it was also a must to visit the Jersey Shore when we are in New Jersey. So we spent a weekend there, had fantastic seafood (lobster!), walked along the beach and inhaled the charming and easy going Jersey-shore-town-atmosphere.

Luckily, there is still some time left, and we still have a lot of things on our “want-to-do” list: the Grounds for Sculpture Park, play an exit game, rent a car again and drive all around New Jersey (maybe Cape May, Atlantic City, etc.)

Just to mention it, for us it was totally clear to only do something outside of the IAS campus when we knew it would be “Covid”-safe. We avoided crowded places in NY, decided where to eat not only by what we would like to eat but also by how the restaurant put the tables and checked the places we wanted to visit online to see if they were open and how they handle safety protocols or if a reservation would be needed.

We got a lot of inspiration from the IAS website (