“So, where are you from?”
“That’s like, the super northeast one, right?”
Being from one of the lesser-known states in the country has not only reminded me of how few people here can relate to my own experiences, but it’s also shown me that some Yalies seriously need to brush up on their geography. More importantly, it’s shown me how much love I have for my small town of Union (I implore you to look it up). I used to look out my bedroom window and see our backyard, full of wildlife: birds, chipmunks, deer, and the occasional groundhog. Now, I see Old Campus and Harkness Tower from my fourth-floor room in Lawrance Hall. This is not necessarily a negative change, but it is still jarring. It is still change.
My life feels foreign. How does a (lonely) Mainer, longing to see hay bales and the trees from his bedroom window adjust to the bustling, compact Yale bubble? For one, I keep bonsai trees on the corner of my desk. Though I can’t say that they’re the towering pines that Maine is known for, they’re still trees. They remind me of the forests at home—my half of the dorm, which I’ve effectively transformed into a small jungle (between my bonsai trees, succulents, and ivy plant), is the little slice of Maine I’ve managed to bring to a place which is decidedly un-Maine.
This does little to make up for the vast differences between Yale and Maine. For starters, the “brutal” winters that my new friends fear are honestly pretty balmy from my perspective. The average 24ºF January low of New Haven pales in comparison to my hometown’s 12ºF (which sounds pretty insignificant until you actually try standing outside), and several days in the winter are sub-zero. In fact, I would dare to describe the New Haven chill as “shorts weather.” But I’ll get off of my soap box and stop talking about Mainers like we’re Canadians.
That’s not to say there’s nothing here that reminds me of home. There are great coffee shops around the city (I worked at one in my hometown). Second, the community of Yale is so tight-knit that it brings me back to the “everyone-knows-everyone” vibe of where I’m from. And of course, I still wake up every day feeling more tired than the night before. That seems to never change.
All in all, moving from Maine to Yale has been a major adjustment for me. In the end, however, I must say that I would only make a different choice one—or maybe two—of the seven days of the week.