Arden Yum, BF ’25, Herald Staff
In my application to Yale, eighteen-year-old me promised my suitemates watercolors and H-mart snacks in exchange for the request that they “widen my perception of the world,” which I thought sounded profound without really knowing what it meant.
I was placed in a basement suite with two blonde girls from California born exactly one year and one day apart from each other.
On a muggy evening in September, the three of us melted side-by-side into the shaggy white carpet in our common room. None of us noticed the sun sink through the pocket of light between our singular window and a brick wall. We were staring up at the dimly-lit ceiling, listening to breakup songs in shared silence.
Months later, when we sat in a triangle and revealed camera roll pictures of the ridiculous hairstyles we’d adopted and shed over the years, I realized they were both fake blondes, and that we had accidentally become best friends.
I used to wonder how the combination of numbers and yes’s and no’s I’d haphazardly filled out in the housing form placed me in B05 my freshman year. But recently I’ve stopped trying to understand. Instead I’m thankful.
Sometimes Yale just gets it right.
Madelyn Dawson, BF ’25; Arthur Delot-Vilain, DC ’25; Sophia Stumpf, BF ’25, Herald Staff
So you’re a Yale first year: you’ve made it this far, but now you’re feeling lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone. Fear not! Here are some resources you can use to help you carry on. What follows is a list of resources we found helpful during our first year (as well as some we wish we had known about).
- There are a number of cultural centers and houses around campus where you can find community in these critical first days and beyond:
Each of these centers employs several peer liaisons (PLs), who are specifically responsible for helping to integrate and acclimate first years. Information about PLs can be found on each center’s website, linked above.
- If you are worried about academics, Yale offers writing tutors for your essays, drop-in hours in the Poorvu Writing Center, and peer tutors that can help you with your problem sets. They’re a wonderful resource; we’re campus publication editors (hehe) and we still use them.
- Professors are easy to reach via email. Seriously! Professors and your graduate student teaching fellows (TFs) love to hear from you if you have questions, need help, or want extra information about their class. Send that email!
- Your FroCos are a big support system too. If you’re worried about classes, unsure how to solve intra-suite conflict or just want to chat about majors and social life, your FroCos are always there for you. Also, make use of Duty Night: great food, great vibes, and great interactions between you (drunk) and your FroCo (tired).
- Broader New Haven-area happenings are easily accessible by subscribing to local newsletters! A couple of our favorites are Friends of Edgewood Park, the Daily Nutmeg, and the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (WVRA).
- The Yale Center for British Art and Yale University Art Gallery are both free for students and are lovely ways to spend a free afternoon.
- Take advantage of Yale’s extensive digital resources. As a student, you have access to HBO Max, Kanopy, and a cable subscription via Xfinity on Campus. Through Yale’s Software Library, you can get a whole range of software, from the Yale Cardiomyopathy Index app to the comparatively useless Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud suites, for free or discounted prices. Yale’s Swank Digital Campus (accessible through the Yale Library) also has a selection of about a thousand classic movies (I am begging you to watch Being John Malkovich). Oh, and the most essential digital resource: isaepithrowing.com
- Most colleges have fun rooms for various purposes somewhere in their unnavigable basements—go visit Davenport’s pottery studio or Silliman’s book bindery and learn a new skill. In addition to these more specialized spots, colleges also have reservable student kitchens and practice rooms for musicians. Plus, the Silliman Acorn is a great place for an after-dinner caffeination stop.
- Meet with your Dean and Head of College! These are vital relationships to have and maintain; they can be your strongest advocates around campus if you’re having issues with professors or are in desperate need of an emergency extension. When shit hits the fan, you’ll thank yourself for building a rapport.
The Fifth Floor
Alina Susani, ES ’26
My dorm is perfect: I’ve got my new, clean bedsheets on my surprisingly cozy bed; the “comfort corner” in our turret nook is truly very comfortable (better than our neighbors’); my suitemates are sweet; there have been no life-threatening conflicts (yet). But there is one glaring, repulsive, nauseating issue that, honestly, may soon outweigh every other perfect part of my new home: I live on the fifth floor. Now you may be thinking, that really can’t be too bad, but I cannot emphasize enough: it is. I do not have the luxury of an elevator that the lucky first years in Murray or Franklin have (trust me, if I were in those colleges, you would know by now). No, I live on Old Campus, where the temperature on the staircase will never drop below 95 degrees and each step somehow seems steeper than the last. Every day, I climb up the 78 excruciating steps at least four times. You do the math. Don’t even get me started on laundry day.
The tropical rainforest truly comes into effect on the final two floors. Sweat drips down my forehead and my back, my legs begin to ache, my backpack digs heavily into my shoulders. Most days, I’ve already begun to give up and succumb to a life in the stairwell when finally (finally!), my hands, stretched out desperately in front of me, reach for the light at the end of the tunnel. They find my beloved door, a relief in the hell of the hall. But wait! That number on the door… doesn’t quite look like a five, does it? No, indeed it isn’t. I’ve still got one flight left.
Maybe I’ll move in with my downstairs neighbors. Maybe I’ll invent a scooter that can bring me up stairs. Maybe I’ll petition to install escalators on Old Campus. Maybe I’ll drop out.
Maude Lechner, BK ’24, Herald Staff
Bright college years with pleasure rife
Why won’t they let me bring a knife
Or candles or a Bunsen burner
Necessary for a learner
Of the culinary arts
But I can’t have knives, weed, or darts
My roommate, that guy has a mouse
He brought it from his father’s house
And one guy has an anaconda
He’s the grandson of Jane Fonda
Why can’t I bring my dog Steve
I feed our suite’s mouse while I grieve
Steve’s favorite things are Yankee Candles,
Throwing darts, and Sixteen Handles
But I can’t find these things at college
All I get is boring knowledge
Someone tell Pete Salovey
Let me have what things I may
A Love Letter to the Yale Arts Calendar
Elena Unger, BR ’25, Herald Staff
Dearest Yale Arts Calendar,
When I was a first-year, my overzealous pursuit of everything Yale had to offer matched the energy of a 4th grade Marco Polo pool party. Daily life was like treading water with my eyes closed, calling out to strangers, and stumbling toward potential friends.
Amidst my chaotic crusade to soak up campus life, you offered me an organized, comprehensive look into Yale’s dynamic art world. You made it so that I could find out the time and place of upcoming improvs, a cappella, musicals, senior thesis productions, art exhibitions, guest speakers, orchestra performances, and dance recitals. And—to your credit—you did it with a sense of user-friendly efficiency that genuinely turns me on.
ArtsCal, you gave me an abundant list of events I could invite new friends to and helped me feign a knowingness of campus happenings (an exciting prospect for a high school nerd that never knew when the party was). You gave me access to my peers’ immense talent and passion (along with vague self-esteem issues. Mom, why didn’t you sign me up for tap dance as a toddler!?).
As much as I want to keep you for myself, I know it is immoral to remain tight-lipped about all your wonders. But, my dearest ArtsCal, when hundreds of frosh come knocking at your door, remember that I loved you first.
Specific Instructions for Listening To Five Songs
Jessica Liu, BF ’25, Herald Staff
1. “Across the Universe” by The Beatles
Sit on the strip of faux beach spanning Long Wharf Pier. Watch seagulls ride slopes of wind up into bleached blue sky and drift back down. Mourn the death of something, then let it go.
2. “October Song” by Amy Winehouse
Hold hands with someone you’ll love one day. Walk the length of Hillhouse Avenue. Let leaves spill over you in the first breath of autumn, then stomp all over them. Listen to the music their bodies make.
3. “Just” by Radiohead
Wear all black. Dye your hair blonde for good measure; you came to college to reinvent yourself. Perch on a wall overlooking Beinecke Plaza. Watch skaters scrape and tumble into the night.
4. “The Biggest Lie” by Elliott Smith
Curl close to a friend in a courtyard hammock. Let the moon dangle over you. Think about taking the first train to another city tomorrow. Be still and be quiet.
5. “Anything” by Adrianne Lenker
Sprawl along the grass on Cross Campus, directly in the sun’s line of sight. Bite into a peach from the dining hall. Let the juice drip down your chin and stick your fingers together. Wait, then wipe it away.
Things They Don’t Tell The Frosh
Amanda Budejen, DC ’26
For the first couple of weeks
You’ll use Google Maps for everything,
That little blue arrow pointing the way
Will become your new North Star,
The answer to all those questions you have.
So pull out your phone and ask:
How do I get from Sterling Memorial Library to Sterling Chemistry Laboratory
From LC to WLH,
From SSS to HQ,
How do I navigate the slang and abbreviations that don’t make any sense yet,
Or work my way through CourseTable
Or get around the extracurricular bazaar and
Unsubscribe from the emails after I signed up for too many and
Make friends and start over and
Where do I start when it feels like I’m starting over—
The GPS is there to guide you,
Speaking in a thousand different voices,
Pointing you down a thousand different paths
To help you find a place
Or make a place for yourself within this map—
It’s comforting to have something to follow.
Something that’s there as long as you need it;
Something you won’t need forever.
This place wants to get to know you as much as you want to be known.
You’ll stop getting lost, eventually.
Learn how to make a homecoming
Out of this homebecoming.
Years later, when you find a frosh wandering around Cross Campus
Trying to get a sense of direction—
Become their Google Maps.
To Be Satisfied in Solitude
Nadira Novruzov, ES ’25, Herald Staff
Before I became a college student, there were certain pockets of my day that were reliably solitary. Breakfast, for instance, was a deep pocket, fleece-lined. Hazy winter mornings were meditative, an omen for the day to come. I felt, as the walking antithesis to the concept of “Morning Person,” that my mundane routine of making tea, scrolling through the news, and funneling last night’s leftovers into a thermos to take for lunch was better completed alone.
Homework was a similarly secluded pocket. Three years ago, I rarely felt compelled to write an essay in the presence of my friends. Every evening, I’d sit at my too-big desk in my too-small room, write a to-do list, and crank through the day’s assignments in silence. This was normal, and this was how I preferred it.
But then I became a college student, and realized that at Yale (and perhaps at many universities), there is a kind of pathological pressure to make every second of life into a social activity, a compulsion to turn every possible pocket of solitude inside out. In my early days here, I was swept up by that curious, insidious temptation to find a herd, any herd, and do absolutely everything with them. As much as I ridiculed the formulaic language of asking someone to hang out, I slipped almost imperceptibly into the habit of scrambling to plan my every meal. I skipped breakfast on days I couldn’t face sitting alone at a table with fifteen empty chairs. I scanned libraries for familiar faces, making plans to study with people I barely knew. I was only truly alone when I was unconscious.
The implication behind this impulse to flock was never said aloud, but it lay just under the surface of my skin: to be alone in a room full of people ready and willing to make friends meant that there was something wrong with me. And the grating fear of that implication buried my desire for occasional solitude deep in my stomach.
Of course, there was nothing truthful about that anxiety—but I remember feeling deficient for desiring any kind of privacy. In speaking to others this year, I now know that I wasn’t the only one. It may be an inevitable component of the first-year experience, and I won’t deny that this overwhelming sociability actually helped me meet people who remain my friends to this day. But it also led to exhaustion and moments of melancholy that I could have resolved by allowing myself to sew new pockets in my day in which I could be alone.
Kaj Litch, GH ’26
My first weeks at Yale have matched the nervous excitement of opening my decision letter—although it was less dramatic than the excitement shown in the reaction videos.
Last April, I was at my kitchen counter, trying to find the courage to click “view update.” And then, soon enough, I was leaving, saying goodbye to my dog, landing in an ugly airport, and waving at the wrong Toyota Corolla Uber at the train station.
I did finally click the button, my eyes half-closed, my parents nervously behind my shoulders. The screen turned black and a spinning circle emerged—the wifi was bad.
It was a similar feeling to roll up to the gate on College Street with a hotel trolley—courtesy of the Hilton down the street—piled with every suitcase we could find in our basement. All of my excitement and fear was met with a rather underwhelming sight—a swarm of overly-enthusiastic Berkeley sophomores in colorful T-shirts smiling at a U-haul full of Brita filters to carry up four flights of stairs. And there I was, looking for my battle-dolphin blue and yellow. I was at the wrong gate on College Street.
Then classes started. The awkward grad student somehow fell short of the mind-altering professor you were expecting, and the “awesome burger” turned out to really just be soybeans. My parents called to ask if I had enough money, but I knew it should’ve really been the other way around.
Maybe it just takes a little time to find Rory Gilmore, or, at the very least, Nathan Chen. Or maybe it’s all just a bit of bad wifi—Yale IT Services will get back to me in 4 years.
In Loving Memory
Lael Joseph, TC ’25, Herald Staff
One early August night, I awoke in a cold sweat to a daunting realization––I could no longer remember what Machiavelli’s idea of justice was. Alas, I could still recall that late autumn night I spent in the Trumbull library poring over The Prince for my dreaded Intro to Political Philosophy course. I had written a paper on the subject, received a fine grade, and for the span of the painful days following, it seemed like the only things I did know were the Italianx philosopher’s thoughts. Yet there I lay, unable to recall my thesis or even a mere topic sentence from my labor.
Intelligence is often associated with memory: we applaud those who can recall facts with speed and accuracy. We create games to improve our recollection, from flashcard studying to Quizbowl competitions. We are tested on memory to an unbearable extent in school, so of course, there is a general assumption that Yale students are quite adept at this skill.
What does it say, then, that a student such as myself finds the little details of her first year already slipping through the cracks of her memory? The economic conditions for perfect competition are long gone, as are many of the intricate vocabulary words from my L4 Spanish course (and don’t even ask me about the main points of Kant’s writings). I imagine these little facts leaving my mind as described in Billy Collins’ poem “Forgetfulness”: “One by one, the memories you used to harbor decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain, to a little fishing village where there are no phones.” They live somewhere I cannot reach on my own now, renting their old homes to new tenants.
Ironically, I took unreasonably detailed notes during my first year, something I now consider to have been my downfall. My reading summaries were pages longer than they should have been—the fact that ‘pages’ is plural says enough—and I scribbled down as many words as I could from each lecture slide. But still, their contents have packed their bags for early retirement. My desperate attempts to cage every morsel of new knowledge into a notes document left me wanting for sufficient time and space to learn.My advice to you, dear reader, is to focus less on recalling and more on experiencing. Absorb material for the sake of your interests, as opposed to the pursuit of note-taking in an ill-advised, inefficient way. The slides will probably be uploaded later anyways. And know this: whatever the results of that approach may be, they have to be better than my earnest and futile studies of Il Principe di Machiavelli. When it’s all said and done, tell me how it goes—if you can remember.
10 Things At Yale That Are Certified Fruit!
Zelda Barnz, TC ’25 and Sarah Shapiro, MY ’25
First-years, welcome to the Gay Ivy. You may have heard that Brown is the queerest of the bunch, but don’t you fret—Yale is very fruity. After thorough scientific analysis and extensive peer-review surveying, we have developed this handy guide for first-years to facilitate the fruitiest campus experience possible.
1) French toast lattes from Atticus.
Oat milk. Caffeine. Cinnamon. Need we say more? All the girlies order this before their 9 am in LC.
2) Hopper College.
We’ve never met a hetero from Hopper and frankly, we hope we never do.
3) Studying in the Trumbrary.
a.k.a. Trumbull Library. Come for the dark academia atmosphere of your little bisexual dreams, stay for the comfy leather seats and the sub-zero temperatures.
4) The gargoyles in Dport.
Just look at them!
5) The condom fairies.
The fairies deliver free (colorful) condoms to all on-campus laundry rooms. Avoid syphilis in style. No glove, no love!
6) That iconic YUAG tote bag.
After signing up for their complimentary art gallery membership, you will see many a gay sporting their free tote around Cross Campus. Bonus points if paired with Docs.
7) Ed Studies.
You’re probably thinking WGSS would be the gayest major at Yale, but you’d be wrong. With only 11 required credits, it’s actually filled with heavyweight crew lads. Don’t get us wrong, we love WGSS majors—but EDST is where it’s at.
8) The sauna in Payne Whitney.
We’d like to refrain from elaborating on this matter.
The only corporate rainbow-washing we support.
10) When the Harkness bells played Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
“Sometimes you will find yourself crying…”
Madelyn Dawson, SM ’25, Herald Staff
Sometimes you will find yourself crying for no reason.
Sometimes you’ll be crying just because someone asked you to have sex. Maybe it’ll be because no one has ever asked you that before so you aren’t even sure if that’s how it’s supposed to sound. Maybe it’s because you thought you could say yes but your clenched teeth are holding consent prisoner in your mouth and then you get all meta because you spent four hours watching some sophomores put rainbow-colored condoms on wooden penises earlier today and you can still hear John in your FroCo group’s sickening coercion when those same sophomores made him ask you, “Do you want to get fro-yo?” (he’s preparing for his improv callback later, give him a break). Maybe you realize that you don’t want to—rather, that you may never want to—rather, that you would prefer to do quite literally anything else—rather, that you’d say your name, pronouns, major, college, and a fun fact every day for the rest of your life if it meant that you did not have to answer that question.
But you’re not in CCE training, and you’re not in class doing introductions. You’re in their bed, and no amount of bleary-eyed staring at the I’m With Her posters on their wall will get you out of this. The words are blurring together, Iw’mtHeiWr.
“I can’t tonight,” you manage, or think you manage, and no matter how many times they tell you that’s fine, the energy in that Grace Hopper double has utterly, cosmically, paradigmatically shifted.
“Is this it?” you ask yourself on the walk home. You don’t know the difference between Old Campus and Cross Campus yet, but you march your ass to Bass Library (it’s only 1 a.m.) before admitting you are lost. If this was an episode of Gilmore Girls, your knight-in-shining-polo would materialize from somewhere pushing a coffee cart and holding a rose or two, but your grandparents don’t have a trust fund waiting for you, so that doesn’t happen. Maybe you made the wrong decision coming here?
To answer both of these questions at once: no. Your first year cannot be defined by your walks home at night, nor by the beds you cry in.
You’ll find better metrics, I promise. For me, it was the songs I played on my radio show, the Moleskine notebooks I filled, the receipts from my Snackpass transactions, and yes, the cups of coffee. From there, I was able to build something for myself—something that worked equally in spite of and despite the darkened tears.
Hot or Not
Hailey O’Connor, PC ’24, Herald Staff
The first week of classes means you’ll see everyone and their mother (literally!) back on campus. To emotionally prepare yourself for the onslaught of interactions, Canvas is your best friend. Underneath the syllabus tab which you haven’t looked at since registration and the announcements section with four missed notifications, you’ll find the only list you need to study: the class roster.
Name something more interesting than stalking the roster of your small Humanities seminar. Spotted: the girl you’ve always wanted to be friends with, the boy you kissed at Camp Yale three years ago, and the character you religiously stalk on Instagram.
Knowledge is power and Lux et Veritas. And now I know that I don’t have to wear makeup to class because I’m an English major and there aren’t any men.
After four semesters and one gap year, I finally shopped a class. Year after year, as the freedom of shopping period gradually fades away, I figured it was time to enjoy my life, and lead on several professors.
Honestly, shopping is a really stressful experience that I don’t want to repeat. Homework looms over you, and you suffocate under the weight of your indecision. Your brain is so heavy that you don’t even know what books to order, let alone which LC classroom to attend. Professors asked for physical book copies that I didn’t want to buy because I was only pretending. And because I didn’t have the book, when my medieval class started speaking in Middle English, I had no idea what was going on.
The emailing and begging––even groveling––associated with shopping period was never mentioned on the Registrar’s website.
Nine Things I’ve Learned so Far (That Aren’t Academic)
John Weber, ES ’26
1) The people who sit in front of you always write down notes faster than you–no exceptions.
2) Crocs are not ideal footwear on Old Campus in the rain; you’re asking to slip and crack your head open.
3) It’s harder to get into most of Yale’s extracurricular groups than it is to get into Yale itself.
4) There is no mercy when it comes to the scheduling of exams—at least two of my midterms run from 7 to 9 p.m., and one of my finals is on a Saturday.
5) Whenever you try to reflect on things that surprise you about college, anyone who’s already completed at least one year of college will nine times out of ten tell you, “Welcome to college!”
6) Sleeping in a lofted bed is somehow ten times more awkward than sleeping in your bed at home.
7) Even though students have to buy brand-new extra-large sets of sheets specifically for their mattresses on campus, nothing fits.
8) In addition to number seven, lofted beds are almost impossible to put sheets on, and unless it’s ten degrees in your dorm room, you’ll probably work up a sweat making your bed.
9) Desk fans are useful for approximately two weeks of the school year.
“When I came to Yale…”
Madeleine Cepeda-Hanley, BK ’24, Herald Staff
When I came to Yale, I knew what my acceptance demanded of me—that’s to say, I knew what my mother, her mother, and all the women before them who worked so that I could study demanded of me. My time here was predicated on an assumption very familiar to many daughters of immigrant mothers. After four years, I would leave as an engineer, a researcher, someone who reflected all the work that had been invested in my education. As I filled my first-year schedule with courses in biology and physics, I mapped out space in my then-faraway senior year for other things: poetry writing, fiction for craft, queer theory, existentialism. College, for me, meant serious focus in one direction. The poems scribbled into the margins of my high school notebooks, the endless list of creative student groups at Yale, and my curiosity about what makes a screenplay good were all things that would have to wait for a time when I had earned the right to simply explore myself here. More specifically, they would have to wait for a time when I had done enough good hard work to enjoy myself here. I am still learning how to let myself do that, but you (no pressure) should start now. Yale is a complicated place, but you have four years to use its classrooms, courtyards, and library nooks quite literally however you want. Make room within them, and within yourself, for whatever you’ve been wanting to. Do this gently. “The rest,” whatever that means for you, will come.
Arthur Delot-Vilain, DC ’25, Herald Staff
As you begin to form your daily patterns (wake up, tread cautiously on unswept wooden floors, sit glumly in the dining hall before that daily 9:25 L1, hope you don’t get hit by a car while jaywalking through New Haven’s bizarre traffic light patterns, etc), don’t forget to occasionally break the monotony. Keep your mind open to new ways of navigating the campus labyrinth, and most importantly, look up! Yale’s campus can seem, at times, downright Baz Luhrmann-esque—around every corner is a new burst of colors, sounds, and bizarrely anachronistic landscapes. The next time you walk by Davenport, take a second to appreciate the hunched over beret-bearing artist smoking his pipe atop the roof. Wander HQ’s spacetime-bending hallways to find the stained glass panel of a mouth surgery, alongside other goofy marvels. Every building on campus is riddled with these overwhelming and overwhelmingly odd imitations of Ye Olde England; they are garish in the best possible way. So lift up your head and look around! Just because Camp Yale™ is over doesn’t mean Yale is over camp.
Elm City Scrapbook: Caterpillars Like Baby Bulldogs
Daniella Sanchez, MC ’25 & Catherine Kausikan, GH ’25
In Morse’s courtyard looms a giant scarlet phallus, sitting atop the rusted body of a tank. Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks is one of the most imposing famous artworks casually scattered around Yale’s campus. The work is undoubtedly prominent, yet its blasé presence in the corner of the courtyard speaks to something we, as freshmen, have quickly gotten used to.
“Did you know my roommate helped invent a device that detects toxins in water?” “Apparently Angela Bassett lived in my dorm when she was a freshman.” “That guy won an Olympic medal last year.” At Yale, extraordinary is the norm. This is a place where––more often than not––talent and privilege combine to produce brilliance in every corner, where sculptures by world-renowned artists become a mere fact of your everyday environment.
It’s all a little intimidating, to say the least, not to mention incredibly lonely and alienating. Oldenburg’s sculpture embodies the fears many of us have upon arriving at college. Its unabashedly bright presence – with a shiny, sleek exterior of a seemingly flawless lipstick – dominates the space around it with no room for anything less.
Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks is a sculpture that visually shouldn’t work. Its parts – a bright orange lip crayon coated in glossy varnish, protruding from a gold matted cartage with handles to climb, standing on the dark wheels of a war tank – feel discombobulated and in juxtaposition with each other. Yet, the sculpture’s mismatched parts work together as a whole to make bold statements of gender, consumerism, and war in America’s fiery ‘60s political climate. At its core, the piece is about coming together to create a powerful message – the sculpture itself was a collaboration between Claes Oldenburg (1929-2022) and Yale architecture students. Thus, the piece speaks to a diversity of voices collaborating to reckon with complex problems in society.
If you find yourself in the Morse College courtyard, look up at “The Lipstick” (as we call it) in all its glory. Think of all the insanely talented individuals that stand just as tall on this campus. Then, instead of folding yourself over in intimidation and imposter syndrome, think about the artistry that can come from piecing together all of the individual greatness that can be found on this campus.
When Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks was first rolled onto this campus in 1969, it was meant to stand outside to weather with the environment. As students, we came to campus in much the same way, ready to be transformed by what Yale has to offer.
Let your college education sculpt you alongside your peers, and watch as you weather and mold into the community. This is the wonder of the Yale experience – growing and being inspired by the greats wherever you go.
Breaking: First Year Spotted in the Silliman Textbook Library
Lydia Kaup, SM ’24, Herald Staff
I am the sole witness, reporter, and devoted reader of this largely unimportant piece of news. The witness will tell you that she sat at her seat (the chair she sits on every time, the desk she has owned since the first time she wrote on it). She watched the first year arrive through the double doors like some wide-eyed Sherlock Holmes impersonator as he uncovered the backside of a hollow bookcase.
And I was the criminal, the laboratory-ridden Victor Frankenstein who told you (likely via Instagram story) that I study only in spots listed in a Yale Brochure—Cross Campus on a cloudless day, fantastical rooms in Bass that boast ample seating and well-placed outlets, the beanbag chairs that exude pixie dust somewhere above Commons.
I did not want the first year to see my experiment and thereby discover the potion-mixing that occurs necessarily at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday in the Silliman library. The inevitable first-year tension between a naïve sense of self-importance and ill-concealed anxiety would undoubtedly set off an explosive reaction. The air fizzled around the condom on the shelf above the communal computers; a hissing sound emanated from the corner armchair that serves as an impromptu display case for alternating abandoned backpacks (if you are missing a maroon, ripped JanSport, I saw it there yesterday… but perhaps you are not missing it).
I blame microscopic buildup and backlog. Something atomic, perhaps? A nuclear strong force emanating from the overlapping, mismatched carpets? I know very little about myself except that I am not a science major.
Breaking: The Silliman Textbook Library is on Fire.
And where was I? Standing amidst this great release of energy and explaining that I was not a science major. Justifying the classes I had chosen to take this fall as “probably compatible with my interests” and walking the first year through my Degree Audit-related insecurities. Wondering if I will have enough “hard skills” when I graduate. I contemplated the majestic flame and realized I had left my math binder somewhere in Saybrook.
The situation emulated the Almost Famous scene where the plane almost crashes, and the passengers bounce their deepest confessions towards each other like some life-or-death tennis match. Everything tumbled out.
The fire eventually died and left only the JanSport backpack noticeably singed. The lovably bizarre hallmarks of the Textbook Library remained unchanged, and I, the witness, cited “causes unknown.” For the first year had uncovered the upperclassmen’s most well-kept secret: the highly reactive tension between insecurity, wide-eyed discovery, anxiety, and hopeful self-importance does not decay with time. I never stopped feeling like a freshman—I just learned how to hide it.
First years—find the chair that you will sit on every time and the desk that you will own for an hour on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. That’s what is working for me right about now, at least. And know that I’m sorry when I tell my friends that the chaos in the Silliman Textbook Library was “some first year’s fault.”
“I didn’t know what winter was…”
Joanna Ruiz, JE ’25
I didn’t know what winter was until I came to New Haven. I didn’t know how cold it was and how strange it felt on your skin and how numb it made you feel. Snow days were beautiful, but they were a reminder of how disconnected I felt from everyone and everything at Yale. I was experiencing a new thing that was not new to a lot of people. The weather and the vibes were completely juxtaposed—calm and gentle snow, but busy and stressed people everywhere. Winter became exhausting. Sometimes I wished Yale had palm trees like the ones back home, cool and relaxing all throughout the year. Coming from the mid-sized city that is Hollywood, Florida, it was so easy to feel like I didn’t belong during winter; the loneliness I had felt coming to Yale suddenly became starkly real and apparent. Not to mention I’d never seen so much white in my life. I’ve come to appreciate that the warmth of my friends can replace the Hollywood sun, though I’m still not prepared for this coming winter. Winter is now my favorite season, but it still feels cold sometimes. It gets warmer, though, once Yale turns on the heaters.
Patrick Kho, DC ’23
My last family trip to the U.S. was nearly eight years ago. I spent my mornings waking up at 5 a.m., jet-lagged and still on Manila time. I watched Judge Judy in our San Francisco hotel room, only leaving for “breakfast” around noon.
In 2022, my life in the U.S. is vastly different. Each day, I wake up quite a bit later than 5 o’clock: 7 a.m. on the days when I try to match the drive of my alpha-hustler roommate, 9:30 a.m. on others. My mornings aren’t spent in front of televised plaintiffs, defendants, and their endless squabble, but instead with people from all walks of life—all of whom remind me that America is fucking weird and the world is much bigger than I realize. But while the world is big, Yale is tiny: I run into so many people, and there are too many strangers whose faces I recognize.
Rising Global Temperatures and Friday Night Attire
Hilda Barragan-Reyes, BF ’26
On our way to the airport, my high school accounting teacher warned me, bug-eyed, about college’s inevitable challenges: the process of finally discovering who I am, and determining what I do and do not like.
I’m into my third week now and have already faced many more challenges than discovery alone —learning how to study, or attempting to dress (or underdress) for a Friday night. But what’s doing the hard-hitting? A thousand kilometers in the air, on a flimsy tightrope, my love for the environment walks the walk of death, the journey of a semester that promised me I’d experience the four seasons for the first time in my life.
I’m from Merced, California, a conservative, rural, agricultural town. And the weather? It’s conservative too: no snowflakes. Rising global temperatures—those are bad because I grew up with 110-degree summers and barely survived to tell the tale. I didn’t understand how some people could just turn a blind eye to the perils of the natural world until I got to Yale.
Snoring—no, not my roommate, but the old man, accompanying the bout of raining and pouring outside my window. Suddenly the thought of rising temperatures doesn’t seem all that bad. But I’m willing to give this passion of mine a balancing pole: so while I wait for December, my rite of environmental passage, I’ll learn the proper attire for Friday nights.
Paloma Vigil, MY ’25
High-pitched giggles, immense joy, and equally consuming nerves encompass your beings. Your hope and enthusiasm are refreshing, but the rest of us can’t help but wonder where our own jitters and waves of happiness went. We watch you get drunk on a Wednesday night, dance to your first Woads “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and walk semi-intoxicated home at 1am, only to observe your sustained excitement (although hungover) on the second day of school the next morning. You ride the high of Camp Yale into the thrill of midterm season and the shock of the Harvard-Yale game. You never seem to get tired, share any negative sentiment, or regret your actions. We are left with a thought: where did our thrills go? We’ve somehow memorized hundreds of formulas and interview tips and worked hard in our classes but have forgotten to live in the moment. This is my column—Dear Dan—a place for nonsensical thoughts, chilling reflections, and a chance to revive the first-year spirit for all at Yale. The rest of us wholeheartedly welcome you to campus and can only hope you don’t lose the beginning sparks. Hold onto the jitters, they only get better with time… if you let them.
On My First Year’s Endless Nights of Walks
Jaxon Xavier Havens, TC ’25
What time I did waste with walks in the night–
Flirtation in the dark!
With every step under moonlight,
In earth, a fading mark.
Ambling with mind made pure,
My heart grew light and free.
My major is now more certain, I’m sure,
Yet I wonder who I’ll be.
For When Your Roommate Won’t Shut Up
Victoria Ouyang, MC ’24, Herald Staff
You’ve been at Yale for a few weeks already, and you’re still getting to know your suitemates.
Maybe you bonded with them right away and eat at the dining hall together every day. Or, perhaps you’re still learning how to live comfortably with one another. After all, Yale shoved all
of you together, and you can only try to communicate with empty small talk, half-hearted jokes, and awkward silence. Whatever the situation is, you don’t hate your suitemates yet. They haven’t done anything wrong, and there’s even a chance that they’ll become your new besties.
Then a few months go by. You’re painfully behind on your readings. You don’t understand what your PSET is even asking you. You make a to-do list for the day only to get none of it done. The melatonin you bought has stopped working. You’re ready to give up for the day and sleep away your pain when your suitemates and their friends come in, slam the door, and start blasting music. This cycle happens nearly every day. You’re frustrated and upset, but how do you tell them to shut up without being the asshole?
1. Never say anything. If you’re not a confrontational person, this may seem like the best idea. You might think that if you can deal with the noise once, you can deal with it every other time. The thing is, this little “plan” of yours will never work out. You’ll start hating yourself, your suitemates, and the residential college system you gushed about in your application.
2. Blare music through your earbuds. You can’t hear your suitemates anymore, but can you hear your own thoughts? Will your eardrums be okay in three months?
3. Be passive-aggressive. “Some people are just so loud all the time.” “I don’t get how some people never seem to do any schoolwork.” They’ll feel your aggression, and maybe back off. Not a healthy way to deal with conflict.
4. Guilt-trip them. “It’s been so hard trying to concentrate during the day when I can’t sleep until 4 a.m. every night.” Hopefully your suitemates have hearts.
5. Get an air horn. Every time they’re too loud, honk the air horn. Will you still be cordial with your suitemates after this? No. Will they be quiet because they’re scared? Yes.
6. Actually communicate with them. Send a text in your group chat. Lay down those ground rules your FroCo told you to talk about. This is your Yale experience; don’t be miserable for your entire first year.
Anna Kaloustian, GH ’26
Picture this: two acquaintances collide on Old Campus. Let’s call them Joe and Eugénie. Eugénie is not American, and is therefore unfamiliar with American social cues.
J: “Hey, what’s up?” (Joe is seven minutes late for his history class).
E: “I’m good! I just came back from Koffee with my friend and we tried this amazing matcha—”
J: “I’m actually very late. Can we catch up later?”
E: “Oh. Sorry.”
J: “No, you’re good!”
E: “Um… yes, as I told you, I’m good.” (Eugénie is confused about the whole concept of “you’re good.”).
J: “…Okay. We should grab boba sometime.”
E: “Grab who?” (Eugénie has no idea what boba is).
These words hang in the air amidst an awkward silence, followed by an intrigued look from Joe, the purveyor of the infamous “What’s up?”
Not knowing how to answer that question sums up my familiarization with Yale and the United States as a whole. “What’s up?” is a greeting. People don’t expect you to actually tell them what’s up with your life when they ask that question. In France, where I’m from, the equivalent to “What’s up” is “Quoi de neuf?” (what’s new?), and it usually ends in a prolonged discussion about work life, relationship gossip, and your dog’s health. At Yale, there’s not enough time for all these dramatics when that one guy from your friend’s econ class throws you a “What’s up?” from across the street.
Small cultural discrepancies may seem insignificant, but they add up quickly, and when they do, the conversation can shift from uncomfortable to downright absurd. So far, I have not only learned the meaning of boba, Tito’s, and Insomnia Cookies, but I have also picked up the now-familiar “let’s grab a meal sometime” (knowing that it won’t happen half the time). I have learned to accept compliments from random students on campus (in France, I would usually respond with the same intrigued look I get when answering “What’s up?”) and put up with the bewilderment of Yalies when I tell them that Whatsapp is better than iMessage.
College is about adapting, and adaptation comes in different forms for every person. As an international student, the necessity of adaptation can echo through the smallest nuances of American conversation. While adaptation can be scary, there’s nothing else quite like the excitement of knowing what’s up.
Exploring the Elm City
Zach Morris, BR ’24; Natalie Semmel, DC ’25; Elena Unger, BR ’25, Herald Staff
As a first year at Yale, you could easily spend an entire year discovering mere morsels of campus and its culture. You could turn your GCal into a brimming mosaic of student performances, guest speakers, and social appointments; however, you’d still be missing out. Yale may be your new home, but so is New Haven. Giving yourself ample time to get to know the city—its quirks, vibrancies, and people—will offer you a vital change of pace from campus life. To prove to you that the bounds of campus are not the bounds of your community, we’ve gathered some of our favorite New Haven events and shops to check out:
- Cityseed Farmers Market
Imagine getting up on Saturday morning and walking to Wooster Square beneath a halo of fall foliage. You grab a coffee from the Jitter Bus, and wander through a treasure trove of little white tents. You meet local artisans, farmers, bakers, and soapmakers, and buy an outrageous amount of Syrian sweet bread. Now, stop imagining. This could be your reality every Saturday morning from late spring to the tailend of autumn. The Cityseed Farmers Market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and—if you’re too tired from last night’s fratting—rumor has it that fresh flowers, pumpkin donuts, and soy wax candles cure hangovers.
- Salsa in Ninth Square
Twice a month, at 6 p.m., community members convene for free salsa lessons, designed for people of all levels. Come solo or with a partner, but be ready to move those hips! After the lesson you’ll also have the chance to dance the night away at an afterparty hosted by New Haven’s own DJ Christie. Cue the music and show us your best spin.
- Book Trader
Here’s some food for thought (or should we say thought for food?). Imagine if Starbucks and Barnes & Noble never met. You couldn’t read the entirety of Captain Underpants on the floor for free or order from that secret menu that makes you so sophisticated. All is okay, for there is Book Trader Café. A Tale of Two Turkeys, a Hamingway and Cheese, or even a Sense & SensiBLT. We won’t even mention that you can read the sandwiches’ literary counterparts at the same time. Support small business.
- Wednesday Movies in the Plaza
What’s the best Woads pre-game? How about an outdoor film screening right across the Green! From Crazy Rich Asians to Coraline, you’ll be able to catch a quick picture, accompanied by a crowd that usually consists of grad students and New Haven families. Make sure to bring a blanket or a chair and dress warmly.
- Sunday in the Park at Edgerton
If you keep walking up Science Hill, past the labs, past the observatory and past Albertus Magnus, you’ll find yourself at the New Haven-Hamden border in less than half an hour. Continue down the hill, and you’ll see the gorgeous Edgerton Park, which is usually occupied by kids on scooters, couples taking pictures, and off-leash dogs. Once a year, however, a festival called Sunday in the Park fills Edgerton with music, games, a dog parade, plants for sale, and plenty of Italian ice. Be there—September 18, 2022, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Grey Matter
Everyone knows where to find the Yale Bookstore, but on the corner of York and Elm sits a bookstore that really matters. Looking to flex on your classmates with an older edition of that Penguin classic? Wanting to impress that person with a text that hasn’t been published in decades? Look no further. Used and rare books have never been so in.
- “Food Truck Paradise”: The Long Wharf taco trucks
There’s a pack of seagulls that occasionally lands on Old Campus, a sometimes shocking reminder of how close campus is to the water. Walk twenty-five minutes from the Green (twenty if you’re fast) and you’ll get to the Long Island Sound. Between the water and the side of the highway that runs next to it, you’ll find a long row of taco trucks, and sometimes hundreds of New Haveners enjoying food on the water. Aim to arrive between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on a weekend with the mission to find your favorite truck.
Samantha Liu, GH ’26
Balanced precariously on my fifth-floor windowsill, I held some tangle of string lights, fake vines, and old Polaroids. Conversation fragments from a midnight Old Campus floated upwards, bouncing with the nervous energy of move-in.
Wow, this is so Pinterest, I thought, alone in my single, as an ambiguously wistful female voice whisper-sang through my speaker…
My Lorde-induced trance was interrupted by a knock. And another knock. And then, like straight out of a horror movie, there was an incessant banging at my door—my dorm door, not even my suite—with both my suitemates asleep, and that’s when it hit me: I was probably going to die.
When I opened the door, there was no chainsaw-wielding man, but rather my pajama-clad floormate Alice, who clutched her shower caddy and towel, her hair dripping wet. Alice had gotten locked out, and, phoneless and alone, had let herself into my unlocked common room.
Neither of us really knew what to do. The FroCos weren’t in their dorm, and Alice’s suitemates were nowhere to be found. So, following Alice’s example, we knocked on the doors of the suites under us, recruiting ten members to our posse of clueless first years.
“We could, um, try picking the lock?” a new recruit offered.
Silence. Shrugs. And a capitulation that we had no better ideas. One of the fourth-floor guys procured a paper clip; someone else found a WikiHow article on lock-picking. Thirty seconds in, and we had a dozen Yalies standing in the hallway ready to confront their greatest intellectual challenge yet: reality. The EP&E major tried to jiggle the door open, while the rest of us made scattered small talk.
Eventually, the night was saved by a FroCo and a heroic Yale Security staff member jingling up the stairs. All of us cheered, celebrated, and speculated about the legitimacy of trauma bonding. As we said our goodbyes, friends instead of acquaintances, I was struck by warmth. There was nothing Pinterest-esque about the Old Campus hallway, littered with bent paper clips, wet with shower-water footprints. But the unlikely laughs and chaotic mishaps were an aesthetic that I could get used to.
*typing typing typing*
Yule “Arrow” Zhang, BF ’26, Herald Staff
Dearest Professor LastName,
It is my sincerest hope that you’ve had the most pleasant-est kind of pleasant day. I am writing to inform you that I’m currently on waitlist position number 42, even though you already know that. But I NEED to communicate with the HIGHEST hopes and aspirations that your class is one of the BEST here at Yale University, and I would be absolutely delighted if I could be officially registered in your class.
Now I shall walk the line between humility and shameless self-promotion. I’m the PERFECT student to be added to your class. I recently won a
Nobel PrizeNOBEL PRIZE for the subject area relating to this class, AND/BUT I still have lots to learn, and to learn from someone as knowledgeableKNOWLEDGEABLE as you would be a dream come true. Wow, that rhymed. I’m a genius!
I will remain interested in your class until the end of add/drop and then forget about it. I recognize that even if I don’t get in, it’s okay! I still have next semester, and the next, and the next… and as a resourceful person, I shall make the most use of all these opportunities. It’s not a threat, it’s just curiosity. Thank you very much, and have a very good day, dear good person.
Five First-Year Playlist Essentials
Victor Attah, DC ’25
Your first-year playlist is one of the most important things you’ll create during your first year at Yale. The songs in it will forever be associated with your first experiences on campus and keep you entertained on the walk from Old Campus to Science Hill. So why not listen to music that reflects this formative time in your life?
The Strokes – “Bad Decisions”
Hannah Montana said, “Everybody makes mistakes; everybody has those days.” You won’t get everything right your first year—not all the decisions you make will be good ones. This song is for when you start to regret signing up for that 9 a.m. calculus class or realize you probably shouldn’t have worn your brand-new white shoes to a frat.
Tyler, the Creator – “FIND YOUR WINGS”
Your first year is full of moments where you’ll forge your own path, figure out what you want, and begin to “find your wings.” This jazz-inspired hip-hop song will serve as the perfect soundtrack.
Kanye West – “I Wonder”
“You wonder if you’ll ever find your dreams?” If so, this is the perfect song for you. It’ll serve as motivation for the times you feel uncertain about your future during your first year.
Lorde – “Sober”
Lorde’s “Sober” captures the escapist nature of college parties. It’s the perfect song for Sunday mornings when you realize the weekend is ending and you have a bunch of readings to catch up on.
Ken Carson – “Yale”
It’s a song called “Yale” with 24 million streams on Spotify. Need I say more?
The Dos and Don’ts of Yale University: A Collection by a First-Year Student
Hannah Figueroa Velazquez, BK ’26
In the short time I’ve spent at Yale, I feel I’ve gained a lifetime of knowledge—less so about academics and more about the unspoken social rules that exist within any institution.
Below, I have compiled the most notable.
Do: Double major in computer science and economics
– Everyone ends up there anyway! You may as well get a few prerequisites out of the way now.
Don’t: Tell everyone you’re double majoring in computer science and economics
– Seriously, nobody likes a sellout.
Do: Complain about how much work you have to do for a class that you not only chose to take, but also fought tooth and nail to get into
– It seemed more appealing on the course catalog, I swear.
Don’t: Convince yourself that you’ll do the reading “tomorrow”
– Who knew “tomorrow” and “never” were synonymous?
Do: Ask everyone you meet their name, major, residential college, and hometown.
– I can feel lifelong friendships forming already.
Don’t: Take out other people’s laundry from the dryer. We’re at Yale; show some class
– If it’s been more than 25 seconds, then it’s fair game.
Home Suite Home
Sophia Stumpf, BF ’25, Herald Staff
One of the defining aspects of Yale is its residential college system, and an important component of that system is the “suite” layout. In your housing form, you are asked to consider what you want to bring to your suite. In the months leading up to move-in, you are given the names of your new suitemates. It’s exciting, nerve-wracking, and a little bit daunting. The suites are more than just dorms, they’re collective spaces—ones that are relatively unique to Yale—and I think they are worth reflecting on a little bit during your first year.
Your suites are what you make them: places to sleep, places to work, places to socialize with friends. You could go full-out in the decoration department, putting up tapestries, plants, mirrors, and posters. But you could also keep the space low-key—a string of LED lights and a fridge will usually do the trick. It’s really not important, so long as you feel like you can unwind after a long day.
In my first-year, my suitemates and I meticulously planned out our common room. We set up tables, thrifted pillows, and strung up lights. It was a way for us to make an empty common room feel a little more like ours, but it also set the tone for what we wanted our suite to be: social, cozy, welcoming. You don’t have to spend much time in your suite if you don’t want to, but it’s a good idea to communicate with your suitemates about what your expectations and boundaries are. It’s what my suitemates and I did, sitting down in our newly-furnished common room to talk about our hopes for the year.
My advice for you: engage with your suite a little, find ways in which the space works for you, and talk to the people you’ll be sharing it with. It’ll make you feel so much more settled. In an environment as fast-paced at Yale, returning to a space that feels like home can be a great source of stress relief.
Reflections from the Best Camp Yale Program: COVID Isolation!
Lailah Nabegu, BR ’26
I came to Yale excited to attend FOCUS, but my body had other plans for me. My spot in another, more exclusive Camp Yale program was confirmed on a Wednesday evening by two red lines on a rapid test. So I packed my suitcase at 8 p.m. and made my way to the infamous Arnold Hall.
No crowds of college kids in colorful T-shirts awaited my arrival. Arnold Hall was spooky and quiet. I sat on my bed and instantly missed my mattress pad. My main concern, though, was feeling lonely. Like many other first years, I was anxious about making friends.
But by the end of isolation, I had reached two important realizations. First, I wasn’t ever completely alone. Other people were also quarantined. We talked about our COVID symptoms, and our interests and hometowns. My FOCUS group also brought me delicious Chai Lattes two days in a row. Second, there really was no rush to make friends. We have four years for that, and the time that I do have to myself is valuable.
Jasmine Ross, MY ’25, Herald Staff
Coming back to school marks a time of new beginnings. Out with the old, in with the new. For some, it’s dancing on tabletops and drinking ten shots of Tito’s to forget that terrible high-school relationship. For others, it’s reflecting on the past year in a wellness journal, finishing an iced latte while writing about a newfound sense of self-respect.
You hope that this will finally be the year in which you can be your authentic self. You go to estate sales to “adult.” You buy glassware you convince yourself is a need instead of a want and lie that you attend the University of New Haven so that the Milford store owner won’t mistake you for that kind of Yalie. You awkwardly yell peoples’ names across courtyards in excitement; they seemingly don’t remember you in the moment, but choose to match your energy days later. You settle for stealing dining hall plants to protect your peace before the winter overwhelms you with seasonal depression and imposter syndrome that never seems to dissipate. Your Command hooks—the ones you put up two days ago—are already falling off the walls, leaving your soggy towel on the floor. And you pray to a God you don’t believe in that this will be your year.
Speciation at Yale
Hannah Szabó, MY ’25, Herald Staff
Wider than the chasm between athletes and NARPs, engineers and DS kids, or your favorite a cappella group and all the other ones that are “totally different and honestly can’t even be compared, musically or in level of camaraderie,” is the sprawling gap that lies between the two factions of the Class of 2026. A bifurcation has already formed, splitting one species into two: on one side, those who frolic in the Edenic pastures of Old Campus; on the other, those banished to the Siberian suburbs of Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin. Within a few short weeks, these northern folk have become barely recognizable to their southern brethren, so distinct are their customs and dialects. While the Old-Campusers dine on ambrosia-like potato salad in the marvelous JE dining hall, those in the new colleges scarf down wood-fired pizza and cheesecake; while the prelapsarian speak of “GHeav” and “Arethusa,” their fallen cousins only know “Petals Market” and “the broken ice cream machine in the Murray dining hall.” Though only spotted briefly sauntering south on the Prospect street promenade, these northern folk will surely continue to loom large in the Old-Campusers’ minds.
**N.B. Following the latest Woads event, sources have confirmed that interbreeding between these two species remains possible, and in fact desirable, to avoid the risk of residential college incest.
My First Year
Shane Zhang, SM ’25, Herald Staff
It was very fun. I made a lot of friends. But school was very hard, and I didn’t do that well. I always thought I’d be immune to imposter syndrome because I understood how fucked up college admissions were and how no one “deserves” the backing of a 43 billion dollar endowment. But midway through the first semester, I lost confidence after a bad grade. I stopped doing my readings and talking in class. I didn’t realize until then how much of my confidence and self-assurance was just based on momentum. I lost it all with the first setback. I’m back for my second year and, having failed a lot, I think I am stronger. I’m looking to make better choices now. I will get more bad grades, care less, and care more at times. I’m gonna make people happy.
“Are they just getting younger?”
Tarel Dennie, PC ’24, Herald Staff
I wake up to my Harvesters sitting at the picnic tables near our tents—just six inches from where they laid their heads—talking and bonding the way we hope that they will on these no-phone, no-hygiene pre-orientation trips.
“Tarel, what’s for breakfast?”
“What’re we doing today?”
“What time is it?” (Harvest time).
No matter the time (even on Harvest time), their question barrages persist despite my unchanging reply:
“Overnight oats. The farmer will tell us soon. Harvest time.”
This may only be my second year leading a Harvest trip, but the time that I have spent with my younger brother and cousins has taught me that the way to handle kids’ questions is with concision. This tactic translates well when dealing with first-years (freshmen? frosh?).
There are actually many similarities between first years and children: they ask too many questions, they walk in large packs, and they complain a lot. They also eat, shit, and sleep. Though we are not supposed to call them children, these similarities sometimes make it harder to distinguish them.
When discussing the first years, whether addressing those in my Harvest group or referencing the large packs of them walking down Elm Street, my reflex is to say “the kids.”
Are they kids? Most of them are at least 18, which means that they are legal adults.
Why do they feel so much younger than me? They are only two years younger than me—some of them less than that (I met one individual proclaiming to be a, believe it or not, ’23+3).
Are they just getting younger? Yes and no. Yes, each first year class will be an additional year younger than me. But I saw one first year who I would probably guess was 13 if they were not sitting in the Morse dining hall.
Are they maturing slower? (Pending: The effect of COVID and isolation on adolescent development and maturation). When I was a first year, I just don’t think that I acted as they do. I feel as though I was more mature, more independent, and more tactful than they are. Am I just missing something? Are they?
“Are we going to have to go through all those trainings again? I feel like all of those things they said were obvious and the sessions were pointless. I feel like they were infantilizing.”
I agreed. Having friends who are FroCos, I had some insight into what was happening inside those sessions: it was infantilizing. I was horrified when I heard about some of the things that they had to do during their Camp Yale orientation: it more closely resembled what the name suggests—a summer camp—than entering college as legal adults.
I reassured them that, although the sessions could feel quite condescending, they did share important information—and, there will be no more of those sessions after the first week.
When thinking about who I was as a first year, I felt like I could handle entering college without all of those trainings (I didn’t even really get them because my first semester was Fall 2020, where we ate out of to-go containers in the courtyard, six feet away from each other: also a summer camp!).
That is not to say I think the lessons taught aren’t important—because they are—I just did not feel as though they needed to be spelled out for me. I did not learn how to give people space to talk by passing around a talking piece, nor did I remember where people were from by creating a map with my body.
Though I look at the first years and hear a mobile softly chiming, I also have no issue (other than a legal one) in reconciling the fact that they will go to parties and drink and smoke and do all the other things that come with college experiences. I did when I was a first year navigating those situations, and I was ready to do so. So, I guess they are too (at least I hope so).
“And the mighty kids, they walk fast”
Nawal Naz Tareque, MY ’25
And the mighty kids, they walk fast. Not fastidiously, but with a pace that matches the enthusiasm coursing through their veins. What they are sprinting towards, nobody knows. Some say they are merely traipsing their way through their fourth cup of double shot espresso in the depths of Bass, howling internally for some kind of catharsis. Others say they are walking, talking testosterone pumps, tearing through their drenched varsity t-shirts at Payne Whitney.
While others are bribing the bouncers at Leo, or busy swaying their hips on High Street.
In any case, these kids will find their way at Yale, through student government or bookbinding or band. They’ll learn to call it home, and work on some of its flaws while accepting others. They’ll forge bonds with violinists and Marxists and finance dudebros, and know who to keep.
And in a year they, too, can call the incoming freshmen annoying.
Beware of High Street
Anaiis Rios-Kasoga, GH ’25
The journey to High Street is not a long one. It’s even shorter if you’re stumbling. You know you’re close when you see the swarms of blackout hopefuls waving student IDs in the air. Once you’ve assumed your position in the ranks fighting the good fight, you will find that there is something particularly dehumanizing about standing at the foot of a crumbling staircase as Kyle, the 5’8’’ social chair, prattles on to the 40-year-old hired bouncers1 about “capacity.”2
If you get that lucky break—whether it’s a familiar hand, or the face of that boy in your FOOT group at the top of the stairs—and are pulled through the chattering heads, you will be able to look down and find that you are once again a fully realized person. Inside the peeling walls of Sigma Delta Pi, you will inevitably make a beeline for the bar, where they keep the holy water.3 You can practically feel the impending gag in the back of your throat as you cut through sweaty bodies half-heartedly swaying to a Chainsmokers remix.4
Four shots later you find you’re standing in the backyard of an old Victorian shithole,5 feeling that this must be the moment when the record scratches and you look over your shoulder to find your roommate hanging off the arm of someone they’ve definitely just met. All the while your slurred words “you’re probably wondering how I ended up here,” are ringing through the ears of the nonexistent viewers, all of whom are bearing witness to this series of incredibly unfortunate events.6
1 Why do frats hire bouncers? Do they fear the masses and the mob mentality they create? Studies should be done.
2This is code for “Don’t let any more people in—even though it is empty and unfun, we must maintain the illusion of exclusivity. If we don’t have that, what do we have?”
3Plastic bottles of New Amsterdam Vodka.
4Sometimes they play ABBA if you’re lucky.
5A frat you can’t remember the name of.
6Going to High Street in the first place.
Isabella Panico, SY ’26
I know they say it’s good to be an open book, but when you’re standing outside the Silliman buttery at 9 p.m. on a Thursday while a guy who you’ve met in passing a few times describes what antidepressants he takes, you figure it might be better to keep some pages to yourself.
Vulnerability is an incredibly strange thing in friendships. Mix that with the task of somehow finding your “people” amongst a group of nearly 2,000 strangers and you’re left with a pile of firewood dripping in gasoline. How soon is too soon to start unfolding the details of your parents’ divorce to your suitemate?
I like to quantify most things. There’s nothing I’d love more than to put a number on this. So, in the same vein as Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours to mastery theory, I’m going to coin the 336 hours to true friendship theory (trademark pending).
Two weeks straight of uninterrupted time together and you’ll feel like you’ve known each other a lifetime. The beautiful part about college is that privacy has absolutely died! Bathroom to yourself? Forget it! Your FroCo just walked in. Now you’re going to awkwardly have to walk around them as you try to ignore the fact that they’re about to take a shower. Instead of attempting to preserve some privacy, let the ugly show right off the bat. Hell, tell people what antidepressants you’re on! Vulnerability is the backbone of our connection to each other as human beings. Whether that be a blessing or a curse, I may need another 336 hours to figure it out.
Not All That Foreign
Irene Colombo, BF ’25
When I first got to Yale from Italy there were many things I hadn’t even had the time to consider: dorm decor, how much I would miss the food back home, or how not to get deported. And all of these details fell on the backburner (an English expression I curiously learned my first week at Yale), because for us international students, coming to Yale means full-time study abroad. That came with its own set of things to consider, but also with just as many opportunities to be so incredibly excited about. I hope that my column Not All That Foreign will give you some insight into international student life at Yale—the good, the bad, and everything in between. Among other things, I will discuss acclimating to life in the land of opportunity, unhinged consumerism, and fancy Greek letters posted on the doors of townhouses exclusively inhabited by dozens of college guys left to their own devices. Prepare to hear about the social lives of international students, but also about dealing with the culture shock that comes with navigating the new, wonderful, and chaotic life that college has to offer. This column is my effort to dispense some advice and add to the conversation on issues that primarily impact internationals. In this spirit, here are my top three tips for navigating these first few weeks at Yale and in the US.
- Make an effort to get close to your international peers, whether you are in OIS or not! The international community is a special and incredible place for your safety (the integrity of your F-1 status) and well-being. Shout-out to the one and only Ozan Say!
- Show some of that international pride! Tell people where you’re from. Tell people your name and show them how to pronounce it correctly, even if it takes them a semester (it happens).
- Finally, but perhaps most importantly, keep in touch with your friends and family back home. They are an inexorable part of who you are, and although you are just beginning to live your new life in the states, maintaining those connections will make your time here so much richer.
My Favorite Water Fountain
Rafaela Kottou, MY ’24, Herald Staff
My favorite water fountain is on the fourth floor of Pauli Murray, in Entryway F, between the bathroom and Suite 42. I used to visit that water fountain every night with my suitemate—the boy with curly hair and green eyes who I met during my first week of freshman year. He would wear his checkered Spiderman pajamas, and I would wear my black floral pajamas, and we would carry our water bottles up to the fourth floor. Sometimes we would see the boys who lived in Suite 42. We would wave, they would say hello, and we would turn back to the water fountain.
My second favorite water fountain is in Watson Center, across from the room that used to be a COVID testing site but is now just a regular classroom. I once called my mother from that water fountain when it was snowing outside, and I was studying for a biochemistry exam. She asked what I wanted to eat when I got home for Winter Break. I told her I wanted carbonara.
My least favorite water fountain is in Bass, outside of the bathrooms near the ramp that leads up to Sterling. It looks old; its color faded to a dirty golden brown, dirty enough that I always hold my water bottle away from the metal, waiting for it to fill, trying to forget all the physics problems I can’t solve and the friends I never texted back and the boy I want to kiss and how much I miss my favorite water fountain.