How are you? Who are you? If you don’t know, that’s okay—we don’t either! In fact, we probably knew more when we were first years, before the East Coast rattled our brains. We are shells of human beings seeking ephemeral obsessions to collage into some semblance of a fully-realized person. So… uh… we’re doing fine.
This is our annual First-Year Issue, when students both new and old come together to reflect on the first-year experience. From inspired advice to embarrassing anecdotes, from Sophie Kyle Collins’s (BF ’23) first-year journal entries to Anne Gross’s (TC ’25) instructions on how to become friends with your floormates, the First-Year Issue gives insight into the particular and universal trauma that is our first year at Yale.
Ours is a strange time. Students of all years walk around campus with a lack of familiarity. We still barely understand how the Schwarzman Center works. Perhaps finding out together will make the most bonded first year experience of all?
Awaiting your enjoyment,
Caramia and Elliot
Bathroom Etiquette: Ten Steps to Become Friends with Your Floormates
Anne Gross, TC ’25
- Notice that her electric toothbrush is running low on battery—it sputters sometimes. Offer up your extra batteries. When she politely declines, don’t be dissuaded! You’ll offer again tomorrow.
- Compliment her on her flip flops. And on the unprecedented length of her second toe. You go, girl!
- When she doesn’t respond to the prompts you printed off the Internet, don’t worry. Social signals are hard to read through a toilet stall—she actually just can’t hear you in there. Speak louder!
- If you hear her humming in the shower, don’t hesitate to strike up a duet! Reach into the stall to grasp her hand, swinging together to the rollicking chorus. The whole floor may join in!
- Her strand of dental floss accidentally fell into the trash. Pick it out and braid it into your hair, to show you care.
- Remind her of your standing offer of a new toothbrush battery.
- When she cracks open the shower door to grab her towel, make fervent yet tender eye contact. This is the “discomfort” your FroCo was telling you about. Lean in!
- She seems to shed a lot of hair in the shower. Gather up the strands and arrange them into a miniature portrait of her. Next time she’s in the bathroom, let her know where to find it. She’ll be flattered and impressed!
- One of the toilet stalls has a window that opens onto the street. She’s been in there a while, and you may think she’s waiting for you to leave, so she can shit in peace. Wrong! She has stage fright, worried that passersby can see her. So, go down and take a photo of her through that chink in the window. She’ll be grateful when you show her that you can’t really see her—only a little!
- You’ve brought it up several times and she still hasn’t accepted your battery offer. Disregard her charming modesty and put in that fresh battery yourself, caressing each bristle with your gentle, considerate fingers. First-year friendships can be short lived, but the sweet and subtle taste of your fingerprints will cement your relationship in her heart.
Let’s Get Ready to Croc
Jenesis Nwainokpor, MC ’25
The most important item on my packing list this summer was not an area rug, pillows (2), surge protector, rain boots (heavy), or rain boots (light), but a pair of medium blue size-9 Crocs, hand-selected for optimal dorm room dancing. They were purchased early in the summer and tucked lovingly into a box. While everyone else in the Class of 2025 group chat worried over hurricanes, I imagined myself standing on the tile floors of my suite, feet clad in heavenly blue rubber. The world was my oyster, and my oyster-cracking tool was a Croc. But what happens if your oyster toolbox fails you when you need it most?
The biggest ordeal of my first week would not prove to be navigating the communal bathroom, but facing a world without my jibbitz-clad shoes. I scoured every box underneath my lofted bed, every nook in our oddly-angled common room, but to no avail. The shoes I had dreamt of, the shoes I had adored, the shoes I had spent $60 on—gone without a trace.
Losing my Crocs has taught me an extraordinary amount about myself. I learned that college will not magically transform me into an organized and composed individual, no matter how much time I spend looking at Notability templates. My penchant for losing things, especially important ones, persists even here. But even without the most important item on my checklist, I’ve managed to survive and even have fun in my brief time here—napping on the ground of the Morse courtyard, lowering non-rubber shoes out the window to the suite below mine, avoiding grisly murder while stuyding in the stacks—and I am slowly, slowly, coming to the conclusion that maybe the fixation I had on my Crocs wasn’t all that rational. Yale is a lot of things, but it is not Kansas, and I don’t need shoes to make it my home.
That being said, if you see my crocs please let me know. I want to cha-cha slide in my dorm room. 🙁
A Typology of “Fun Facts” (written by someone who hates orientation)
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg, PC ‘25
Actual Fun Fact: In order to have an Actual Fun Fact, orientees must have experienced something improbable. Perhaps they were born in a moving vehicle exactly as it crossed the border from Kansas to Missouri, or they have a third nipple. These facts are valid, but only a lucky few possess such excellent fodder.
Flex: This category includes any type of brag, humblebrag, boast, namedrop, or allusion real or fabricated that an orientee may choose to include in their introduction. Though all Flexes are designed to impress, they are not all impressive. Examples range from “I once met Elizabeth Gillies from the hit Nickelodeon show Victorious at a restaurant in Atlanta,” to “I know 12 languages” (like, cool Alex, please do not proceed to offer a salutation in each one). The most insidious flex, however, is when someone says they can do the splits, and the whole group feels contractually obligated to beg them to demonstrate, right then and there, on the fucking grass.
Fact That is Not Fun: This is probably the most common kind of fact, and a favorite of the public-speaking averse who are petrified of accidentally saying “Hi, I’m she/her and my pronouns are Erica.” A common Fact That Is Not Fun is “I have a dog,” sometimes amended to “I have two dogs” or even “I have a brother.” Come to think of it, census-esque household details comprise the bulk of this category.
(Corollary) Gross: “Fun facts” in any of the three categories listed above may also fall under the umbrella of “Gross,” which refers to any piece of off-putting or uncomfortable information that the group would probably prefer not to know. A Gross Actual Fun Fact is “A botfly laid eggs in my leg and they hatched.” A Gross Flex is “I’m double jointed” and then doing some kind of bizarre elbow-dislocation thing. A Gross Fact That Is Not Fun is “I have regular bowel movements three times per day.” Just kidding—if that last one applies to you, that’s awesome.
How To Not Wet The Bed
Isaac Pross, BK ’24, YH Staff
You close your eyes as you try to forget the herds of helicopter parents that swarmed Old Campus a few hours ago during move-in. You rest your head upon your sweaty and humid end-of-August pillow. You and your roommate have taken turns singing lullabies and even wished each other good night under the shooting stars. If you’re lucky, you’ve even tucked away a lost tooth under the pillow for the tooth fairy. As you prepare to enter a heavenly slumber in a luxurious hardwood twin-XL bunk bed, you realize you forgot to pee before going night-night!
You slowly and silently crawl down the crooked stepladder of the bunk bed, careful not to wake the breathing body resting a few feet below. As you tiptoe upon the cold wooden floors, you feel something grab your left foot. You wiggle and squirm, but it chases you and grips tighter. You panic and bite your tongue, fearing your foot will forever be lost in the abyss of the crawl space. As you finally surrender to the monster under your bed, you let out a piercing scream.
Your roommate turns on the light. Wrapped around your foot is the sleeve of a Yale hoodie. Beside the hoodie is a puddle of pee. At least it’s not in the bed.
License to Flail
Mina Caraccio, BK ’23.5, YH Staff
Dear first years,
As lost and confused as you may be feeling right now, take a moment to revel in the fact that at least you have an excuse. First-year status grants you the golden ticket to not only royally mess up left and right, but to actually be celebrated for it. Go ahead and get sloppily shit-faced at your first storm-soaked Woads—your smiling FroCo will welcome you back into their cozy suite with open arms and greasy late-night quesadillas. Go ahead and accidentally barge into an Anthropology lecture instead of your Poetry seminar—it doesn’t matter, since you don’t know your major anyways. Go ahead and make the tragic mistake of saying “Good Nature Market”—you’ll be met with only the gentlest of ridicule.
This school is teeming with frenetic first-year energy, and trust me, it’s not just emanating from you guys. In fact, many of you lanyard-wearing youngins, still riding the high of your Yale acceptance, are floating on a cloud of confidence unreachable to the rest of us who haven’t been on campus for 18 months, yet are suddenly expected to run the place.
As a now-sophomore originally in the Class of 2022 (that’s right folks, I took a gap year before it was cool), I still descend to the level of discreetly pulling up Google Maps when navigating to obscure lecture halls and (I’ll be honest) TD. Commons, while excitingly novel, induces the hot sweats. The hordes of new faces zombie-ing their way to Berkeley coffee in the morning make this place feel overwhelmingly foreign. We’re all still trying to figure out how to handle this post-pandemic pandemonium, but only you guys have the excuse to flail, not to mention the institutional infrastructure to support you. So lean into it. Unabashedly ask for those directions to frat row. Wonder aloud about what a coincidence it is that all the Heads of Colleges share the same first name, “Hoc.” Join way too many niche activities, change your major every month, complain about having way too much work, and spend your whole weekend lounging in the courtyard with your suitemates anyways. Enjoy the beautiful chaos, and in the moments of crisis (and trust me, there will be plenty) remember that you’re only a first year and the stakes are much lower than they seem. Allow yourself to gloriously fuck up. And most importantly, always remember: if you see me waiting in line for coffee in the morning, step aside, frosh.
Josie Steuer Ingall, TD ’24, YH Staff
This place and its people are exhausting. Arches and spires and aspiring hedge fund managers occupy way more than their fair share of New Haven air.
Of course, there are many strategies one might employ to avoid being asphyxiated by global finance and Gothic architecture. Take a nap, do a face mask, throw red paint on the polo team, whatever. But the only thing that really works for me is to leave. Get the fuck off campus. Here are some of my recommendations for doing so:
- Buy a bus pass, either from the attendant on the Green or from the dude (any of several; they seem to have a designated weekly rotation) milling around to the left of the sales outlet selling a stack of them at cut rates.
- Explore the city. Get on the Daily Nutmeg mailing list and read the weekly events digest. It’s much richer than the Yale equivalent. You don’t want your social life to be constrained to campus, and also most of your peers make shitty art. What am I doing this weekend, Kate Krier? Your mom. (Sorry.)
- Shop smart. The relationships most Yale students have with New Haven are limited to deficit-perspective service and consumerism. If you’re someone for whom the latter is a particular joy, spend your money wisely. Do not live in any apartment complexes named after the streets on which they are located. Do not go to Elm City Market, where I once purchased a $13 jar of peanut butter in a fugue state. (I bought it to eat with the apples I had stolen from the dining hall. If you are not already stealing from the dining hall, you are beyond my help.) Do go to the Cityseed markets and admire the weathered hands of the man running the Seacoast Mushrooms farmstand. Spend some time contemplating dropping out and becoming a mushroom farmer.
- Seduce me for additional New Haven secrets. If you encounter me at any Elm City function as a result of numbers 1-3, you owe me one.
Ten Tips to Living a Chicken-Tender-Thursday Type of First Year
Rafaela Kottou, MY ’24
To all the first-years looking for some slightly unconventional, yet certainly unbeatable advice—this one’s for you:
- Get to lunch early for chicken-tender Thursdays.
- Never wear sandals to a frat party. I promise you—they will get stepped on. Spilled on. Torn up. Demolished.
- Hold onto your room key. But, if (correction: when) you do so happen to forget your key in your room, don’t stress. Call Yale Security. Hopefully you’re fully clothed because, trust me, it can get pretty awkward when you’re standing in a fuzzy pink bathrobe and black flip-flops, wet hair pressed against your neck, holding a sparkly blue hairbrush, and waiting for the benevolent night-shift attendant to let you into your bedroom.
- Get a fan. A loud fan. Because, sometimes, it can get noisy. By “it,” I mean your suitemates. And their beds (wink, wink).
- If someone asks you to hike East Rock and watch the sunrise together, think it through. It could very well be a marriage proposal.
- Don’t wear Converse in the rain. Ever.
- Maintain the friendships that matter—if you’re lucky enough to procure the rare breed of friend who will bring you Alpha Delta pizza after a romantic rejection and make you laugh until you cry after a brutal exam.
- Go to class. Even on days when you can’t get out of bed and don’t want to get dressed. Think of what your mother would say. Go to class.
- Make mistakes. You’ve got three more years to be “perfect” (or rather, to figure out that perfect doesn’t exist).
- Take time for yourself. Lay in the grass on Cross Campus, take naps outside the Divinity School, breathe a little. Go out on Friday nights and sing a little. Make midnight tea and lick Ashley’s ice cream until your tongue is numb and it’s December and far too cold for it. Live a little.
Kiran Sampath, PC ’22, YH Staff
The brain appears to possess a special area which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful—a facet of memory Milan Kundera named our “poetic memory.” Poetic memory is personal; like hand-prints or secrets, we each possess our own. Even a single experience shared by two people might be indelibly recorded in one’s poetic memory and quickly forgotten by the other.
Yale became a part of my poetic memory before I even applied. It was idealized by way of books and the big screen: Nick Carraway’s alma mater, Blair Waldorf’s fantasy, a place where students drink from goblets and wear cashmere to tailgates and pause during sex to debate the cultural merits of Lolita. And so I came to Yale with a sensitivity to its charm which only heightened with each day. It was my sensitivity, that first year, which unlocked my own poetic memory. Guitar and wood-grilled pizza at the Yale Farm. Cheap wine. The Carillonneurs playing in Harkness Tower, particularly when the sky is grey. That one tree in the Pierson courtyard that fades from green to gold through September and remains red until the last weeks of the fall. The leaves of that one tree outlive most common insects. Eleanor’s face in intramurals. Certain combinations: impressionism and snow, chocolate and snow. Maybe just snow.
Poetic memory collects accidentally, lingers unconsciously. You can be critical, yes, and ambitious, yes, and have twelve spare minutes in your calendar because the world is burning and your paper is due and Goldman Sachs wants you. Still, it is a choice to indulge, to recognize the beauty. For all the stupid things I did my first year—the Durfee’s snacking habits, anxious social habits, Wednesday drinking habits—I also developed an acute sensitivity to beauty in its many forms. As a consequence, my poetic memory sustained me for over a year away from Yale.
Dunkin’ and Birdin’
Leo Egger, TC ’23.5, YH Staff
At the tail end of last winter, on some late Friday night which became an early Saturday morning, my suitemates and I ate Popeyes (or perhaps Alpha Delta or Brick Oven) in our dark and dirty common room overrun with precarious stacks of to-go containers from the dining hall and a general atmosphere of languishing. It was certainly a hard semester for all of us, full of existential sobriety: a sense of being bound, being hollow.
Logan, sitting across from me on our broken couch––which we propped up with an Egyptology textbook and a copy of Leviathan––mentioned to Joe that tomorrow there was an optional bird watching event in East Rock for their Ornithology class.
“You better go, guys,” I said excitedly. “This is the first in-person event I’ve heard about all semester. I’ll go with you guys. I can drive us there, too.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m gonna go. It’s at 7 a.m. tomorrow and it’s already past two. I would but I’m just really tired. I haven’t been getting any sleep,” Joe explained.
“I think we should go. Let’s set our alarms for 6:15 a.m. tomorrow and see how we feel,” said Logan.
“Wow, yeah, I’m sorry to backtrack, but that is very fucking early,” I laughed. “Let’s just play it by ear.” I stumbled off to bed.
Sure enough, at 7 a.m. the next morning, there the three of us were in East Rock Park, with Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee in one hand and the other buried deep in our coat pockets. It was a crisp and bright morning, one of those late winter days where the sun suffuses the air with a loving whisper.
We approached a small group of students who took turns looking through a pair of mounted binoculars, which pointed upward at the cliffs. “Dunkin’ and Birdin’! A New England tradition!” Professor Prum said to us. A kind, bearded older man who wore round glasses, a red winter cap, and a beautiful pair of binoculars around his neck, he was one of those people who clearly loves his work; who after a lifetime of learning still brings childlike wonder to his days. He directed the three of us to look through the mounted binoculars. Putting my eyes up to the glass, I saw a nest of ravens guarded over by a mother. The large bird’s black feathers shimmered and rustled with dignity as it stood on the chalky cliffs above me. I felt in my gut the feeling of witnessing beauty, like a coin descending from a bridge. It falls with an unassuming splash into the water.
Cathryn Seibert, JE ’22, YH Staff
This is not meant to be prescriptive advice, but rather a suggestion for making your life easier if you find yourself in a similar situation to mine. Something to consider: only check out as many books as you can comfortably carry in one trip, and feel out if they are books that you will actually read. I’m not talking about books for a class, because you need those and can’t really escape them. I just mean books for you. There was a point in my first year here where I got really into browsing the stacks and checking out books on a whim. I would do this multiple times a month and cart home a stack each trip. Eventually, I had an unwieldy collection that, once the pandemic hit, had to come home with me to Pennsylvania and live under my bed there for months. Then the assemblage came back to New Haven last fall and lived in my new room until this past spring when I finally mustered up enough strength (and the reluctant help of my roommate—thank you, Lill!) to return them in multiple trips. How many of those books did I actually read? I’d rather not say.
Last year, I discovered the Yale library’s “Send to home address” feature and fell into a similar predicament. At one point, I Borrow-Directed this absolutely enormous art book for a paper before I was done with my research, but it only arrived after I turned the assignment in. I figured I could leave it in my lobby and just write “return to sender” on it and have everything taken care of. Well, it sat out there for a long time and became a fixture of the lobby, until one day it was gone and forgotten. ☹ Eventually I got a message that someone had abducted the book from its new home and tried to sell it at Book Trader. It actually turned out okay in the end, since the main reason I didn’t return the book myself was because it was so heavy. I didn’t want to haul it all the way to the library, so whoever attempted to trade it in truly solved my problem because I just picked it up from Book Trader and dropped it at Haas across the street. Kismet.
The Kiwi Con
Sarah Marsland, BR ’22, YH Staff
Here’s a suggestion for if you’re ever bored of Woads-ing or gathering in the middle of busy walkways or whatever else you first-years are wont to do:
Step 1: Acquire several kiwis. I guess they don’t have to be kiwis, but they should be something a bit more exotic than apples or oranges, and they do need to have a peel.
Step 2: Choose your target. I recommend someone who lives in your entryway, but not in your suite, and who you believe deserves to be messed with a little. Maybe they recently dissed your taste in music, or remarked that your obsession with Hammy from Over the Hedge is “bordering on pathological.” Whatever, I don’t know your life.
Step 3: Determine a time at which your target is sure to be nowhere near the entryway. You might consider enlisting an accomplice to keep watch, or suggesting a friendly merging of G-Cals. Then, when the time arrives, place your first kiwi outside their door.
Step 4: The next time you see your target, maintain an unflappable poker face. If they mention a mysterious kiwi, lie through your teeth. For example
“Sarah, this is so weird, I walked out of my room today and there was a kiwi on the floor.”
“What the fuck? That’s so random. By the way, does your Tuesday class in Watson end at 12:25 or 12:50?”
Step 5: Repeat Step 3 with another kiwi the next time your target is away. This time, maybe leave two. Again, pretend you are just as baffled as they are. You could say you’ve never actually seen a kiwi before, and ask them if you can touch it.
Step 6: This is where you can go a bit crazy. When you drop the third kiwi, maybe you leave a cryptic note or a serial-killer style collage of their name. Make them feel like someone wants them, specifically them, to have these kiwis.
Step 7: Watch as your target’s life begins to unravel, increasingly revolving around this kiwi mystery. Offer to help them find the prankster. Blame it on other residents of your entryway, Among Us-style. Start drama. Finally, when you feel you’ve caused enough damage, reveal yourself as the Kiwi Culprit and enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done.
I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Bryan Ventura, MY ’24
I’ve always been a rather reserved and private person. Despite being quite talkative once I’m comfortable, especially about things I’m passionate about, I’m generally quiet and tend to keep to myself. This may have stemmed from my formerly-severe social anxiety, yes, but honestly? I mainly just hate bothering people. I hate feeling undesirable, unwanted or burdensome. So to avoid feeling this way, I’ve grown up to be a relatively independent person.
If you’re anything like me, navigating Yale can be difficult at first. Socializing in particular has been harder than all ten classes I’ve taken at this school thus far. I’ve always considered myself to be a reasonably friendly guy, but carrying conversations and attempting to make friends can be taxing when you feel like your interests, upbringing, and ideas are utterly unusual compared to the common Yale student. I didn’t join any clubs or student organizations because I feared what people would think of me and barely spoke in class because I was terrified people would decide I wasn’t smart enough. I refused to even eat my meals with the other people in my college because I thought myself uninteresting, walking right by their (literal) social circles just to eat my food alone. I would spend most of my time in what I thought was the safety of my lonely dorm room.
As the semester went on, I began to realize that through my fear of being rejected and judged, I had ended up alienating myself from my residential college’s growing community and perhaps from Yale as a whole. Thankfully, I was graciously accepted by my peers when I actually began to join them for meals, events and social gatherings—I just wish I would have been open to liking shit and going outside from the get-go.
Premonitions from a Paper Bag
Nadira Novruzov, ES ’25
I moved into Yale and almost immediately everything around me began to break. It began with a paper bag, one I used to pack all the miscellaneous belongings I couldn’t manage to stuff into suitcases. Upon my arrival to campus, my books and string lights and tiny dorm room garbage can promptly spilled out from the straining bottom, and as a mildly superstitious person, I briefly wondered if this was some kind of omen for my first year. But in the swirl of suitemate introductions and FroCo meetings, the episode quickly left my mind.
Not long after move-in day, a hurricane laid siege to the East Coast. As I sat in my suite with some friends, telling life stories, the lights in our common room flickered, then shut off completely. This was, in all honesty, more thrilling than it was frightening or annoying, but for a moment, it reminded me of the omen of the disintegrated paper bag.
The sunflower I was given at my first-year dinner wilted and died, its wrinkling petals decorating my windowsill. My brand-new notebooks sustained water damage from the torrents of rain that permeated the first week of classes. I lost an earring. I found holes in all my socks. And one night as I went to shower, I found, to my dismay, that the water had begun to exit the headless spout in a depressing sort of trickle, prompting a brief period in which my suitemates and I took 40-minute showers or resorted to using the sink. Not quite the glamour I had anticipated.
I believe that under most circumstances, this kind of luck would perturb me. But communal living is a funny thing—the wealth of people around me has resolved my superstitions. Everyone lost power last week, everyone’s ceremonial sunflower died, and I was kindly offered the use of a neighboring suite’s shower while mine kept trickling. There is something about little things that don’t work that is humorous and cooperative here, causing them to lose some of their inherent negativity. And so I’ve decided what the omen of my paper bag is: this year I will be lighthearted about the inevitable small things that break.
The Water Closet
Neal Sarin, BK ’23, YH Staff
It started with a plop. Or maybe it was a kerplunk. All I remember is the sound of blood rushing to my head as the door of my LDub bathroom stall creaked open; a figure loomed in front of the fluorescent lights, casting a shadow over my spread-eagle legs. Pants down, log dropped—I had nowhere to go. I’ve always been a door-half-open kind of guy. When I was a kid, I used to poop on the floor behind the red sofa in our living room (it helped me concentrate). As an outdoorsman, I enjoy a defecation privy to the wide open wilderness among the beasts and fowl. The thing they don’t tell you about college is:
“The doors lock, my guy.”
Forced to reckon with the shame of my indolence and my refusal to flip the lock, I had little way of knowing that my hallmate and unwitting voyeur would become one of my closest friends. We broke bread together that night, and talked of the fatty ragers at which we might send.
Sometimes I still see that startled, expectant, doe-eyed first-year in Nick. Sometimes, I leave the stall door unlocked, hoping to find a comrade amongst the steel and stench. If someone happens upon me, I’ll greet them just as I did him
Two Pieces of Advice
Madeleine Cepeda-Hanley, BK ’24, YH Staff
Even though I spent the fall semester of my first year at Yale on a half-empty campus, and then the spring semester in my bedroom, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it would be like to come back to a full campus as a sophomore. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how much more alive campus is now, so believe me when I say that if you’re feeling a bit lost, I’m right there with you. Fully integrating back into “real life” after spending a year behind the relative comfort of my laptop screen can be super overwhelming. That being said, I offer you two pieces of advice:
- No matter how much that iced almond milk latté with a double shot of espresso activates your god complex, you cannot make it to Science Hill from Cross Campus in five minutes. Neither can I. (If you can, please let me know, and please arrange to make yourself available for piggy-back rides everyday at 11:35 a.m. I can only be late to that Arabic class so many times.)
- If the chaos at Commons just isn’t doing it for you at lunch time, come by the Berkeley vegetable and herb gardens and return to your hunter-gatherer roots. Browse our excellent selection of cherry tomatoes and underdeveloped strawberries, and say hello to the team of bees that guard them viciously. All produce is free and fresh and (probably) no one will judge you if they see you foraging in our courtyard.
Why Haven’t I Met My Best Friend Yet?!
Victoria Ouyang, MC ’24, YH Staff
I came into Yale expecting to make friends fast. I was pretty social and had a close group of friends in high school; college can’t be too different, I thought. I was wrong. The truth is, the first few weeks at Yale were a lonely mess. “What year are you in?” What college are you in?” “What’s your major?” “What classes are you taking?” The same questions over and over and over again. The same answers over and over and over again.
The worst part of it all were the massive packs of freshmen, drawn to each other like magnets. While I struggled to follow up on the odd “We should grab lunch sometime,” cliques were forming. I began to blame myself. It was my fault that I didn’t have friends. I hadn’t found a genuine friendship in a week because I was too weird.
Now, a year later, I can recognize how unrealistic my expectations were. You won’t meet your lifelong friends in the first two weeks of college. The reality is, the cliques you look at with envy now aren’t going to be BFFs. Everyone is clinging to everyone else to try and feel included. Give yourself time to adjust. Ask that person from class to lunch. Soon enough you’ll find your people.
AC Christakis, PC ’23.5, YH Staff
I am standing in my living room surrounded by 17 taped-up moving boxes. Despite the use of what seems like one roll of tape per box, some are split along the sides or torn at the bottom. Through one of the holes, I can see a snapshot of my first year: my roommate’s backpack, the rug that collected every spill and crumb in our room, and a shirt I hadn’t worn in a year. This is my first year in front of me, jumbled haphazardly in boxes that I didn’t pack. It doesn’t feel real that it’s over.
I imagine my room exactly as it was in L-Dub. Entryway C, fifth floor. Posters still on the wall, rugs laid out, beds made. Dirty laundry in my hamper, towels hung on the closet door. A room waiting for someone to return home. I didn’t get a chance to close out my year. But now standing in my living room, I was surrounded by my life a year ago. It had been closed for me. Poorly, with tape.
Open Every Door
Zach Morris, BR ’24, YH Staff
What was the first thing I did in my historical artifact of a dorm during my first year, you ask? Open every door, of course. The result? I scrambled with future friends out of my entryway in panic, as an absurdly loud fire alarm deafened the entire residential college population. Unbeknownst to me, I had opened an emergency exit, and simultaneously become “the fire guy.”
While I can’t assure you that you’ll ever know the most efficient way to your classes or have a fully functional fan, I can tell you that the fire alarms do indeed work. I repeat: the fire alarms work. But then again… how would I have known if I hadn’t opened the door?
Lost and Found
Nastaran Moghimi, BF ’25
I’ve never been good at geography. I can’t tell you the names and locations of all the European countries, nor can I tell you the way from my house to my high school. My parents interpreted this problem of mine as an indication that I never had to do anything on my own; I always had them, my teachers, friends, and counselors to guide me through.
Yet upon coming to Yale, I somehow developed a great sense of direction. Whether it be by pulling on my friends’ hands as they wander off in accidental and unknown directions, or by drawing them little maps illustrating how to get from YSB MARSH to Harkness Hall, I’ve become a real-life GPS.
This heightened awareness of my location is often overwhelming. There’s no more sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car and playing Candy Crush while they drive me to school. For the first time, I’m in charge of where I need to be, what I need to do, and when I need to do it.
While adjusting to this change has been difficult, it’s liberating to have complete control over my day. Hiding out in the library, grabbing Insomnia Cookies with friends, trying out for a million different activities, and constantly being inundated with stress are choices I consciously make now, for better or for worse, and the ability to make these choices feels incredibly exhilarating. I’m finally an adult, Mom!
I am sure the prospect of coming to Yale was a scary one for many of us who had never truly been independent before. But now that we are here, it’s time for us to embrace that unknown feeling, discover and learn about our surroundings, make some choices we never would have thought to make, and learn from their consequences.
A List of Things I Have Never Done
Caramia Putman, BF ’22, YH Staff
- Written a biographical questionnaire—leave them wanting more!
- Emailed a professor after dropping a class—leave them wanting more!!!
- Met with a professor outside of class (including office hours)—leave them wanting more?
- Written a “thank you” note (sorry :/)
- Had the same advisor for over a year
- Worked out in a single gym
- Completed an internship (take that to mean what you will)
Yale is yours, babes. Save your energy. Classes are a semester, but friendship is forever <3
The Wonders of White Noise
Maude Lechner, BK ’24, YH Staff
The most indispensable item I brought with me to my first year of college was a white noise machine. It was an impulse purchase for my insomnia, a desperate attempt to find something that might help me sleep. And it worked!
White noise is a constant whirring—a sort of static that blends into the background and helps block out other sounds. There are many kinds of white noise. My personal favorite is brown noise: a warm, gentle whooshing that resembles the wind or the ocean.
If you are someone who has trouble sleeping or is easily distracted, it is remarkable how much white noise can help. When I try to sleep, I am often disturbed by any sounds outside my bedroom, and my white noise machine keeps most of those sounds at bay (unfortunately it does not manage to block out the motorcycle gangs). First-year dorms are by nature loud and raucous, so the machine was really a life-saver.
White noise is also agreeable to listen to while you’re working. It helps me focus and keeps me from procrastinating. Occasionally I’ll layer it with other sounds, particularly selections from rainymood.com. Using websites and apps, you can mix and match layers and environments until you find the perfect auditory atmosphere for studying.
Don’t feel like you have to drop large amounts of cash on a good white noise machine. There are free phone apps that work just fine (I like Sleep Aid Fan), and the noise of any old fan can sometimes do the trick all by itself. The bottom line is: use what makes you comfortable! Being a first year is stressful, and even calming sounds in the back of your mind can be a big help.
The Importance of Being Awkward
Luis Gonzalez, TD ’23, YH Staff
It is easy, when entering an environment like Yale, to imagine awkwardness as the bane of one’s existence. At a certain point, avoiding an interaction out of fear of an awkward series of events becomes something of a Habit (and an understandable one at that, given the extreme pomposity with which much of Yale carries itself). But after the year and change which precipitated this return, there is no greater piece of advice I could offer a first-year than to altogether ignore the (presumably) self-preserving instinct which so often breeds timidity. Instead, throw yourselves into odd, rewarding, and yes, often awkward social situations. The state of this campus (and the nation, and the world) is an exceedingly anxious one. Yet few things have been more conducive to my most important friendships at Yale than the shared experience of excruciating encounters with FroCos, former hookups, administrative officials, and disgruntled New Haven drivers. I’ve missed the kind of awkwardness which comes from existing on an actual university campus, and I can’t wait to witness it from afar (and occasionally, up close) again this semester.
An Attempt at Advice
Elliot Lewis, BR ’23, YH Staff
I don’t feel qualified to give advice. I guess all juniors and seniors feel that way, but it’s especially acute in a year where none of us really remember how to get around. I’m a stranger in a strange land. I’m a vestige of a forgotten Yale. Here’s my unsolicited advice:
- Eat alone. If there’s anything I’ve learned this past year, it’s that being alone fucking rocks sometimes. Don’t get me wrong: I love eating with friends. But sometimes you’ve gotta get work done, or you want to listen to music, or you just kind of don’t want to talk to people. That’s chill. Do that.
- Decorate your room. I’m definitely the kind of person who does not fully move into a space unless I’m there for more than a year. Don’t be like me. Make your mark on your dorm. Put up posters or something. Hang fairy lights. Do irreversible damage to your walls. Make it homey.
- Double swipe. If you swipe your ID card immediately after the person in front of you before their swipe turns green, your swipe doesn’t count, and you can use that swipe at one of the takeout locations. Free money!
That’s basically everything I’ve learned in four years. Enjoy Yale, kids.
Crying Over Spilled Milk Ethan Riordan, PC ’23, YH Staff
Yale prides itself in the motley arrangement of unlikely characters that constitute your first-year suite. I remember seeing suitemates show up to FroCo meetings who, after just two days, looked like they were almost ready to start a band and go on tour together. This was not the case with my suite.
I entered Yale in a much more introverted place than I’m in now. I carried that energy with me throughout the first few weeks of my LDub experience. My bodybuilder roommate and I weren’t quite the odd couple, but certain things definitely ticked me off—getting sexiled very often, constantly finding the room buried under clothes and food, and not hearing myself over the sounds of his late-night guitar playing. But I never really said anything. It was also like 100 degrees outside, and LDub has this incredible way of curating a space of sweat and irritability.
But one day, my roommate spilled his daily mixture of water and whey protein powder all over the floor of our room. He subsequently used some of our towels to mop it up, but didn’t tell me about it. At this point, I had basically never seen a gym, so I didn’t know that mixed whey protein is essentially milk, and oh boy, can it spoil. The room was like a sauna, and the stench of this towel filled up the entire suite. I didn’t want to offend my roommate by insinuating that something in his laundry was causing my vision to blur and my eyes to water. Crying. We lived like this for two weeks until I finally mustered up the courage to say, “hey dude… this room smells awful. I think it’s your stuff.” After that, it was a lot easier for the both of us to air our frustrations.
To be honest, I wanted to write about crying over spilled milk. But the point stands: establish and maintain boundaries, even when it’s hard — you’ll be so much better off!
9:25 is a very unintuitive time to begin a class ok
Gage Denmon, TD ’22, YH Staff
This may be something that only I needed advice on during my first year, but there are no 9:30 a.m. classes, only 9:25s. I spent two years at this school, arriving 5 or more minutes late to every morning class I had ever taken. Not until I had lunch with my friend the first month of my junior year did I secretly connect the dots as I listened to him complain about his 9:25. I thought everyone was just an overachiever and liked being five minutes early to class.
On a more serious note: please talk to people about your failures. Due to the competitive and prestigious nature of the school, there’s a sense that everyone around you is a Rhodes Scholar or a future Nobel Prize winner (only a couple are). Some of these people are literally Olympic-level athletes, which is a little bit intimidating to say the least. But everyone, the perfect people included, fails at something. No one does all of the readings. You will be denied a non-negligible number of internships. For some of you, this might be the first time in your life that you have ever failed. The important thing is to talk about it with people rather than letting it sit inside you and take up space. Get it out of your system and realize that pretty much everyone has had a similar experience; they are just too afraid to admit it and prove their imposter syndrome right.
I Was Once Like You Before Jessai Flores, DC ’23
What I know now, I wish I knew
Back when I was one of you.
Dewy-faced rebellious youth
Who have yet to know the truth.
As you pass through the Ivy gate,
Know that thousands share your fate.
Where futures live, the past does roam
and whatever walks there, walks alone.
Shades of old lives now long in graves
Had once studied in Sterling’s naves.
Now they walk through darkened halls
And disappear within the walls.
Yet you can breathe the springtime dew.
And you are wild, young, and new.
So cherish time but keep in mind
That these good years are far from kind.
This hallowed place is broken ground.
Here is where the lost aren’t found.
But love your friends, keep your word,
And hold your hopes above the herd.
For I was once like you before.
Unprepared for what’s in store.
But if you fight for what is right,
Your college years will yet shine bright.
Unpacking an Afternoon with My Father
Rashel Chipi, TR ’24, YH Staff
It is a very odd occurrence to be visited by your parents at college. It is where two worlds collide and the inner contradictions one is only beginning to disentangle come painfully to the surface. The childlike image I used to comfort my parents collided with my desired reinvention of my college self as an independent adult. My father, a middle-aged, burly Cuban man, who has been a truck driver for 20 years and loves watches and sneakers, paid me this kind of visit. I was nervous to see him. We were not accustomed to spending time alone without my mother acting as a facilitator of sorts. My dad had parked his Freightliner at a truck stop some miles away and took an Uber to campus. We reunited with the hug and traditional cheek kiss outside the iron gates of Trumbull College.
When we left the gates to go eat, he asked me in concern:
“Do I have to sign you out? Do I need to show my license to somebody?”
“No. Dad, I’m an adult.”
One of the effects of seeing him so infrequently throughout my childhood is his total disorientation about my current life stage. Upon my explaining that as an adult, I am free to walk around New Haven without supervision, we both made the same face, but for different reasons. It was a crinkling of glossy eyes and mellow closed-mouth smile to avoid tearing up. For him, it was the realization that the precious years of his daughter’s childhood were long gone. For me, it was a moment of patience and sympathy for what he had lost.
The Question of the Burnt Thumb
Lydia Kaup, SM ’24, YH Staff
You experience your first bout of sadness at Yale: crying in the bathroom stall outside the library, experiencing that “what am I doing with my life” crisis right before you fall asleep, overhearing the chatter of strangers as they walk to some mysterious yet forever unreachable party.
Someone leans in, as if sharing a valuable, untold secret, and says, “College is lonely.” But uttering that magic, we-can-agree-we-aren’t-all-happy epiphany doesn’t solve the gloomy feeling the way you think it should. Hallelujah! We have admitted the awkwardness of the situation! The shared feeling that we share nothing! With the people we eat and sleep and breathe and think with!
Why does the person who has formed a few college friendships, and maintains a fairly reasonable work-life balance, relate so sincerely to this feeling of loneliness? As I write this piece, I sit alone in my dorm, trying to type with the thumb that I burnt while trying to light the candle that I’m technically not supposed to own. I have just returned from lunch with two of my closest friends. On our way back to our respective rooms, we all confessed to wanting to cry, each for reasons that perhaps had something to do with each other and perhaps did not. As we walked together through the Silliman courtyard, we each felt an overwhelming wave of loneliness. Why?
I think it comes down to the question of my burnt thumb. It’s the little feelings of discomfort that ultimately render every social situation somewhat unsatisfying. Sadness does not depend on an obvious and utter dearth of friends. Loneliness can derive from small, nagging inconveniences, and it’s accepting this that allows the phrase “college is lonely” to make sense. It’s alright to attend the school of your dreams, form dependable friendships, love the classes that you take, and still feel occasionally bothered by a burnt thumb.
A Campus of Cicadas
Kayla Yup, PC ’25
The Old Campus bubble reminds me of the cicadas that swarmed my home in May. From my enviable position at the peak of LDub’s tower, I have witnessed the replacement of that once-familiar chorus of shrill cries with a symphony of roll calls scattered into the wind, followed by intoxicated (only in semblance!) laughter when small talk runs dry.
We are so eager to get closer to one another that the term “DMC” (deep, meaningful conversation) has taken root, perhaps as a successor to the ever popular Hometowns and Hot Seats of pre-orientation. From 5 a.m. sandwiches at GHeav with other night owls to running through sprinklers with strangers collected from the LDub courtyard, the cicada mating season in Maryland and the frosh friendship-making frenzy share a certain chaos. So far, I love it.
My first DMC occurred at my inaugural Duty night, under the mischievous leer of Hurricane Ida.
To relay the events in a manner as confusing as that night: picture a makeshift common room on a floor of doubles, spilled Insomnia Cookies, a sudden blackout, a trapped Davenport defect (saved by our makeshift common room’s couch and chair sleeve), bouncing between Spanish and Korean, the classic cockroach in the shower, identity (question mark, question mark…), flooded basements.
Like the cicadas, it takes several days to abandon our “exoskeletons,” our youth molting away for new growth. I like to imagine that Ida’s floods washed away the remnants of Camp Yale desperation, as if our last FroCo meeting signified some grand transformation. Are we ready?
It has only been seventeen days, and already, I can feel the ground trembling.
Mouse in a Maze
Collyn Robinson, SM ’25
The best way to describe my experience at Yale thus far would be like a mouse placed in a labyrinth searching for a minuscule piece of cheese. The cheese, in my case, would be small yet seemingly attainable victories at Yale, like move-in day. Typically a mouse endeavors to find cheese, but when placed in a maze, it tends to encounter obstructions and roadblocks that turns it backward, sideways, creating confusion. I’ve felt this way a few times during my time here.
Before coming to Yale, I envisioned a picture-perfect move-in day. I was supposed to have my Rory Gilmore moment, but life had other plans. Not only did I move in a day later because of little old Henri (which I might add didn’t even touch New Haven), but my move-in was extremely rushed. I didn’t get the opportunity to hang out with my family before they went home, and I missed a portion of my pre-orientation program. To top it off, I spent seven hours outside in the heat my first day here, which is not what I signed up for—I vividly remember choosing Cultural Connections to avoid being outside.
Because my experience was not what I pictured it would be, I didn’t feel like I had found the piece of cheese, that victory I wanted for myself. Now, looking back, I was doing the most. Although it was tough at the time, looking at the greater scheme of things, there is no place I’d rather be. But I still find myself from time to time encountering challenges and wondering when I’ll get out of this damn maze that is my first year. Will I ever reach the small goals I set out for myself? I haven’t been here for that long, so we’ll see. Only time will tell.
Formerly Frightened Frosh
Dylan Gunn, PM ’25
Branford fourth floor, 2:40 a.m. Four degrees shy of boiling, soaked in sweat, feet on the table, lukewarm beer in the cup, YALE IS BETTER THAN HARVARD on the wall, the death of the planet and the intricacies of modern religion on our minds.
I was never worried about imposter syndrome. I was, however, nervous about it simply not clicking—the indescribable factor that turns asked-for names into friends, classes from chores into more, and the eerie perfection of Pauli Murray from hotel-esque into home. I’ve been at Yale for only 14 days now, and yet every night I rest on my lumpy bed knowing I have already met my people. In my four suitemates—whose homelands and sleep schedules span the continents and clock—I’ve found a community at Yale. At Yale, the exhilaration of learning and the comfort of home have beautifully coalesced to become my lived reality. Don’t let my asking for your name a third time fool you, it’s been truly great getting to know everyone.
A formerly frightened frosh,
Sarah Feng, TC ’25
I came out of my gap year incredibly excited for college, but less naive about the world: more cognizant that plans constantly fall through, and more secure in the importance of prioritizing steady, stable relationships over the constant glamour and thrills of new adventures. I do worry that my gap year burnt me out, that it robbed me of some important first-year idealism, or that I lost skills and knowledge. I feel unmoored in this enormous sea of people, having to reconstruct the community around me. People say “be yourself,” but I’ve never understood what that means. Still, I love the big brick buildings and the bells that chime in the morning, and I sort of love this feeling of lostness. We only get one freshman year, and I think we’re meant to feel happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way.
Mosquitoes as Metaphor
Lukas Bacho, SM ’25
On one of my first nights as a first year, I was eaten alive by mosquitoes. Don’t ask me how my Harvest group was expected to sleep on a tarp laid next to a stagnant pond in late August, in the wake of Hurricane Henri. I could hear the insects gorging on every exposed patch of my skin.
Since cocooning in my sleeping bag promised heat stroke, I developed a complicated regimen of grunting, rotating, offering up a new limb, squinting at the moon, and morbidly chuckling at my misfortune. As if this weren’t enough to keep me awake, the pond’s resident geese sounded like humans murmuring just within earshot. Also: there were slugs.
During one of my rotations, I noticed that Daphne, my neighbor, was sitting upright. “Is this Purgatory?” I asked. Her laugh vindicated my remaining ounce of sanity. Our peers looked lifeless, but who among us could possibly be asleep?
The air seemed to cool as we snuck out of camp, and the mosquitoes lost interest in our arms. We walked one lap around a nearby field, and then another. Once we’d commiserated adequately, we began to get acquainted with one another. Normally, I would’ve been stressed about sleep deprivation and our long day of work ahead. But thanks to the horrors of the campsite, I allowed myself to enjoy the gauzy moonlight, the dew underfoot, and the new friend. Soon, a handful of other Harvesters trickled out of the trees and joined us.
Eventually we returned to camp, where everyone else was visibly awake. One of our gallant leaders stood up, mercifully, to name everything wrong with this picture. But, he said, we needed sleep. I didn’t believe we’d find it, but somehow, having wandered and vented together, every one of us did.
Learning How to Jaywalk
Catherine Kausikan, GH ’25
I thought I was good at jaywalking. Then I came to Yale.
On my first day, I peer out past the cars parked curbside and am met with the cold, sneering stare of a driver racing towards me. I am a deer in the headlights, and that split second of eye contact leaves me stranded. When I look up across the vast expanse of asphalt, I see my friends. Somehow, they’ve made it across. We share an awkward wave, then I take my walk of shame as the cars pull up to the light. Maybe I should have just used the crosswalk.
Some days I am with friends that are as lost as I am, and dare not jaywalk into the incoming traffic with the cool, calm suavity everyone here seems to have. We laugh nervously, bunched together like the group of uncertain first years we are. “Aren’t New Haven drivers just crazy?” someone quips, and again, we all titter in our chorus of embarrassing indecision. Finally, we decide to dash across together, guided by the logic that they can’t possibly hit all of us, though I’m sure the drivers outside my window at 1 a.m., revving their engines like war horns, would love to have a shot.
Other days I’m running late to a class, and it’s my first week, and oh god I can’t be late. The little circle on Google Maps that tells me where I am is equally frenzied, confounded by spotty sidewalk WiFi. I glance desperately at my phone and take a gamble. I decide I must cross the street to get to my class, and jog across, my backpack bouncing, as disdainful drivers look on. From the other side I have a horrifying realization—this is the wrong side of the road. Feigning nonchalance, I amble down the pavement, see if anyone’s looking, then sprint back across, eventually panting into WLH with an apologetic grin.
Perhaps jaywalking at Yale is something I will eventually master; maybe one day I’ll stroll among the cars without so much as a flinch. For now, I’ll have to be content that I can get to the other side, relatively unscathed, and keep going, keep going.
Losing My ID
Yaz Liow, TD ’25
“ID please,” asked the woman managing the scanner at the Silliman dining hall. As I lifted my lanyard to swipe in, I realized that my ID had fallen off. All that remained was the jagged plastic edge of the lonely case that once held my ID.
“I, uh,” I held up the plastic. “I had my ID?” I looked around the vicinity for my incredibly mediocre photo on the floor, but it was nowhere to be seen. The woman silently nudged the manual sign-in sheet in my direction, and I resigned myself to the pen.
During my brief walk back to Timothy Dwight, I attempted to justify myself to Yale Security over the phone. “I lost my ID, but I didn’t lose my ID. My ID lost me. It fell off. It literally fell off. I wish I could show you.” In other words, “I’m not like other first years! I swear I didn’t misplace my ID.” I can imagine that the man at the other end of the phone rolled his eyes as he asked if I would find it later (to which I replied, “No, it fell off”). He asked for my netID and consequently deactivated my card.
Retracing my steps brought me to the bathroom and then the shower. “There’s no way it’s in the shower,” I thought before remembering that I had indeed flung my lanyard over the shower door earlier that morning. Lo and behold, behind the shower door, staring up at me from the drain, was my ID.
“Hi, it’s me again,” I said during my second call to Yale Security. “I found my ID.”
“In the shower.”
I heard another tsk tsk. “Welcome to Yale.”
Gina Kim, DC ’25, YH Staff
I was on the phone with my friend Sara from home when my roommate asked me if I wanted to go out. I replied with a giggle and a “No, but you have fun and stay safe!” Sara didn’t know what to do, so she laughed, too.
You see, I grew up with the same 18 classmates since elementary school. If I meet someone new, it’s a friend of a friend. Never someone new new. Then I was thrown across the country in a place with not one familiar face. My voice went up by at least two octaves and I smiled until my cheeks hurt. My face got red, hot, and sweaty.
It’s been a week, and my voice has gone down, I don’t rub my cheeks before I go to sleep, and only my ears get red. I’m doing okay. I’ll survive. I’m having a good time.
Jessica Liu, BF ’25
When people speak of home, the word evokes vivid memories—perhaps a childhood mural of crayon drawings on bedroom walls or the incessant chatter of a sibling. However, during my first week at Yale, I accidentally told my friend that I was heading “home.” By home, I meant a barren, poorly-lit common room and a swelteringly hot, half-decorated bedroom—not the sprawling city of Madison, Wisconsin that I had called home for the past 17 years.
During some periods of life, days trickle by slowly. Other periods, time drains quickly. If I drew a line reflecting the passage of time throughout my life, my years in my hometown would be represented by a gentle wave. In contrast, the few weeks I have lived in New Haven would be a rapid explosion of zig-zags. I have already forgotten the scent of my mom’s cooking, the soft rustle of the grassy field that I loved to sit in to read. I have stopped looking twice before crossing the street or glancing over my shoulder just in case a friend drives past.
Here at Yale, I feel the stirring of late-summer leaves in anticipation of their autumnal color change. Here, the passage of time has become a blur of new memories and emotions.
IMPORTANT: Call 203-785-5555
Jiayi Liao, MC ’25
Sometime after midnight, pre-orientation. My common room, Morse basement.
I LOCKED MYSELF OUT OF MY ROOM.
Bonus, I left my phone inside. With my roommate on FOOT and my suitemates hanging out with friends, I had no idea who to reach out to for help. I didn’t even know what time it was. Without a couch yet, the only place I could sit was on the TV shelf. All I had on my person was my copy of The Iliad for DS reading (and my bathrobe, if that counts). I planned to read until my suitemates came back, but the jet lag was lulling me to sleep.
Thank Zeus, when I’d had more than enough of Achilles, my suitemate walked in! She immediately offered help, but it was past 1 a.m. and we had no idea who to call. Still, I was glad to have her back. As she texted her FroCo, we sat on her bed side by side and talked—topics ranging from family memories to public policy. The conversation lifted up my mood. What’s more, we got to know each other’s backgrounds, personalities, and values so much better. It was a wonderful bonding moment, unexpected yet deep. We went on talking until we couldn’t stay up any longer, which, impressively, wasn’t til four in the morning. She made me a bed on the floor of our common room with her blanket and an extra pillow.
We exchanged good nights and turned off the light. Nearly 7,000 miles away from home, I huddled up in the darkness. As I slipped into a dream, I felt strangely warm and bright. I felt at home.
(P. S. They should really consider printing “Call 203-785-5555 for Lock Out Assistance” on the Welcome Kit. Since it’s so important, I’m putting it in the title, too.)
Getting Past the Dance
Olivia Wedemeyer, ES ’25
Since we moved in, my suitemates have continuously joked that “Olivia knows everyone.” I may and I may not (the latter is the correct answer), but as I walk through Old Campus every day, I wonder if there would be as many familiar faces in the first few weeks if not for social media.
Let’s start with the Class of 2025 Facebook page. Before I got into Yale, I had no desire to be on Facebook, but when I heard about the Facebook page, I joined instantly. One could argue that I, like the vast majority of humans, am addicted to my phone. I would argue that I am addicted to learning about people. Comments of commonality come in throughout the day and present surprisingly good opportunities to make friends. “You wrote a book?!” “Taylor Swift!!! TASTE!!!” “Rango is SUCH an underrated movie.” We write short blurbs hoping to convey (or advertise) our personalities as best we can, and I love that. The bullet points in each caption are a small peek into someone’s life.
And then there’s Instagram. Photos, DMs, I love it all. I am grateful that we could connect in a time when our worlds were so separate and isolated. But then there’s the little dance, the “oh, hi its me _____, from ______, I follow you on Instagram.” Sure, it’s awkward. It’s been awkward many times for me in the past month, but I embrace it. It’s about getting past the dance, hoping they remember what your face looks like from a 1080 x 1080-pixel square, and continuing to find the affinity and the difference from face to face.
A Rite of Passage
Abigail Sylvor Greenberg, PC ‘25
Everyone warns you that the early weeks of college won’t be a cakewalk. There are the challenges of moving away from home; there’s the awkwardness of making friends; there’s the humiliation of showing up to a suite party and only realizing that it’s not a naked party after you’ve dropped your trench coat.
But perhaps none is more universal than when your ex-boyfriend from high school who also happens to go to Yale signs up to group-audition for a sketch comedy troupe in the same time slot as you.
Like so many of the annoyances which characterize the beginning of school, this one comes from an innocent mistake: Your ex-boyfriend, the primary source of your senior year tears,passes the comedy table at the extracurricular bazaar and thinks: “Gee! Seems fun!” before suffering a #relatable brain aneurysm and writing his name down riiiight next to yours.
But fear not. It’s really not the Yale Experience unless you’re in an unoccupied classroom with your ex-boyfriend reading sides for a sketch where he is playing a character called “Hot MILF” who pronounces eggs like “eyygs.”
And sure, there’s no Gilmore Girls scene where exactly this happens. But when you’re standing before an audience of upperclassmen, begging “Hot MILF” to stop telling your friend Karl that he has nice “leyygs,” and you know “Hot MILF” is really an ex-paramour who once prompted you to write “fuck men kill all men” in your Notes app, and you feel at once more vulnerable and less understood than you ever have in your life, just remember that every notable alum from William Howard Taft to John Kerry has been through this—even Hillary Clinton when she was at the law school, actually.