First Year Issue

Photo by Arthur Delot-Vilain

Letter From the Editors

Dearest reader,

Last night, and also on Thursday night and a little bit on Friday morning too, we thought about what it might feel like to hatch from an egg. We figured it would hurt. Rafi would get a migraine. Arthur’s childhood nosebleed problem would re-emerge violently. We’d both get scars. Shells would surely cut a baby’s skin. We theorized that this is why humans do not hatch from eggs. Humans and their soft skins and fragile brains, we thought, are biologically suited for a shell-less birth.

This morning, we shared an omelet and read real science and learned that really, humans don’t hatch from eggs because long ago, an egg-laying vertebrate was infected by a virus which eventually gave rise to the placenta. Were it not for that virus, we would likely still be laying eggs and hatching from eggs and probably still eating them too. And so we thought it would be suitable for you—dear readers—to imagine what that might feel like.

Our inaugural issue of the 2023-2024 academic year is dedicated to runny yolks and rubbery membranes, to eggs gone bad and eggs done right, to hatching, to scrambling, to dinosaurs and hummingbirds, to coming out of your shell. In short, this issue goes out to the first-year experience, to the stuff of life. In these pages, we share advice and memories, places to go and songs to listen to, and, most importantly, lots of drawings of eggs.

Enjoy this issue, share it with your friends, come into our office at 305 Crown Street. We’re still here. Eat it, bureaucrats. Welcome to the Herald.

Yours most daringly,
Rafi & Arthur

In Thanks of Larry
Madeleine Cepeda-Hanley, BK ’24

For senior year, my roommates and I almost secured off-campus housing, until Larry (a landlord renamed for his own interest) decided last-minute to convert the house we were looking at into an Airbnb. It was by no means a dream home—wobbly front steps, spooky basement, tiny kitchen—but it promised more freedom than we’ve had living on campus. Instead, we’re living in the same triple suite we did freshman year, sharing our bathroom thirteen ways and meal-prepping overnight oats in mini-fridge sized batches. The door is busted, and the paint is still falling in sheets from the same spot on the ceiling as it was three years ago, but we’re all feeling nostalgically happy about living there. Chalk it up to the corny sentimentality that comes with senior year, but brewing three cups of bedtime tea in the same Walmart kettle that carried us through our first Covid infections feels like a strange kind of closure. Of course I wish we had a stove, and yes, I sometimes daydream about a clean bathtub, but I’ll have those things soon, wherever I live after graduation. What I won’t have—movie nights drowned out by the hum of our common room fan, heart-to-hearts under flickering iridescent light, and weekends spent vacuuming old hardwood floors together—is worth more than that. Trust me, this is not a pitch to live on campus forever. Go forth and fight your own Larrys for central air conditioning, but for what it’s worth, appreciate the little stupidities of dorm life too. I’ll miss them.

Three Free Off-Campus Study Spots 
Elena Unger, BR  ’25

When the splendor of Sterling becomes stale, Bass no longer feels like the catch-of-the-day, and the army of gothic gargoyles peeking out from various campus buildings loses its appeal, you’ll want to find the perfect off-study campus spot. Yes, coffee shops are a fantastic option—my personal favorite is Book Trader—but consistently studying there will become a strain on your bank account and your caffeine addiction. 

Here is a list of my three favorite spots to go when campus is feeling a bit too familiar yet I am not looking to spend a dime: 

Bark and Vine 
B&V feels like an oasis within downtown New Haven. An abundance of hanging plants, speckled ceramic pots, and colorful candles surround a fireplace and velvet couch where you can kick up your feet to finish readings. A full-size dining table and free WiFi are the finishing touches to this gem.  

The Institute Library 
The Institute Library is well-stocked with contemporary books, but best of all, it is overflowing with vesicles of city history that are all worth looking over. With a skylight that practically serves as heaven’s lamp and plenty of tables to sit at, the Institute Library is an inspiring spot to write a paper. 

The Graduate Hotel 
The Graduate invites students to overrun its beautifully furnished lobby in order to hammer out classwork. There are a handful of long tables with outlets embedded—perfect for communal studying—alongside comfy armchairs and couches for those looking to take a mid-reading snooze. 

These three spots are not only excellent places to complete coursework, but they provide an opportunity to explore downtown New Haven and forge connections with local employees, shop owners, and gallerists. Don’t be too caught up in reading to look around, have a chat and say thank you!

A Guide To Live Music in New Haven
Madelyn Dawson, SM ’25

College St. Music Hall: New Haven’s indie behemoth. It hosts a huge variety of artists with decently sized followings in all genres. Recent performances by Lucy Dacus, Big Thief, JPEGMAFIA, and others have proven popular and excellent.
Good for: artists you really want to see; good crowds; high ceilings; great sound; super easy to walk to. 
Not So Good for: feeling super esoteric and underground.

Space Ballroom: College St. Music Hall’s smaller, quirkier, and farther away cousin. Same agency, slightly more offbeat artists.
Good for: seeing that band who just put out that awesome album you’ve been listening to; disco ball.
Not So Good for: carless travel.

216: The Radio house (216 Dwight St.): hosts basement shows with Yale, local, and traveling artists about twice a month. Refreshments and vibes aplenty. 
Good for: alternative Yale social space, inhabited by the world’s most awesome people (I live there), supporting friends and classmates making music.
Not So Good for: breaking the Yale bubble.

The Shop: DIY warehouse venue in Hamden, revived and renamed in the wake of the State House’s unfortunate closing. Hosts both local acts and touring ones.
Good for: grittiness; breaking the Yale bubble; immersing yourself in New Haven’s robust DIY scene.
Not So Good for: getting there without a car.

Cafe Nine: A New Haven staple and classic bar venue, even under new management, Cafe Nine remains dedicated to hosting a wide variety of artists—in scale, location and genre.
Good for: free (largely 21+) events; drinks; music discovery.
Not So Good for: minors; fun haters; losers.

Stella Blues: Similar situation to Cafe Nine, a bit more jazz focused; a bit more of an older crowd.
Good for: see above.
Not So Good for: see above.

gather east: A cafe-turned-comunity-social-space, gather hosts local and touring bands, open mics, and other non-music related events most nights during the week. They are profoundly community-oriented, and even provide artists with accessible ways to rent the space for both public and private events. 
Good for: chill friend-making and live-music-listening on weekday or weekend nights; free events; cafe energy after dark.
Not so good for: carless transport; mosh pits; hermit vibes.

Never-Ending Books: A largely queer & BIPOC owned free bookstore and community space. Similar to gather, Never Ending Books also hosts open mic events and local artists, and keeps regular shop hours.
Good for: people who walk; free events; lowkey vibes; interacting with New Haven’s art scene; lots of books.
Not so good for: huge artists; mosh pits; giant shows; book-haters.

The Art of Poster Placing
Ariel Kirman, TC ’26

An age-old part of the first-year experience—or at least my first-year experience—is caring about what other people think of you while pretending not to care about what other people think of you. This phenomenon manifests itself in no shortage of ways, but perhaps none is more powerful than the arrangement of posters in a first-year’s room. The thing is, you have about one million posters to put up. The other thing is, you have about three square feet of wall space to work with. So you’re presented with the daunting task of figuring out which posters go where, and whether some may even have to face the chopping block. The solution I arrived at during my first year? Do nothing. For weeks, I would admire my friends’ perfectly decorated rooms and then come home to blank walls. I agonized over which New Yorker cartoon print would make me seem wittier, which New Yorker cover print would make me seem cooler, and whether I had too many New Yorker prints entirely (I did). The solution that I hope you’ll arrive at during your first year: do anything. Put some posters up, preferably the ones that you actually like instead of the ones you “should” like. It’s so boring and lonely when you try to seem cool but end up being unobtrusive instead.

By Jess Liu, BF ’25

Until I came to Yale, I had never designed a room. My childhood bedroom was more of a storage unit than a room: boxes swollen with half-filled notebooks, heaps of loose assignments slumping along the floor, a few rocks lining my windowsill, sunlight limning the film of dust that covered it all. 

This neglect stoked my dorm room fantasies. Before college, I studied Reddit packing lists and Linh Truong’s sepia-doused college videos. From this home-building crash course, my first-year dorm room materialized. Concealing bare walls were posters I’d pre-arranged on Pinterest. Filed atop my dresser, a curated row of books. I rubbed my feet against a white-fuzzed carpet and assessed my work. If this was what making a home meant, why did mine still feel sterile?

My sophomore room was cavernous. The expanse between my roommate’s corner and mine yawned with space our rugs did little to cover. I gnawed away at the emptiness. Haphazard, Jenga-esque book stacks ate up one wall—vertical against horizontal, precarious, silent. My posters covered more thematic ground. Drawn cats cooking ramen occupied one strip of wall; Siouxsie Sioux and Robert Smith dangled over my pillow like an omen. Sure enough, I spent my year listening to The Cure and avoiding my room. My collecting habits could no longer scaffold my idea of home. 

This year, my room still stores my curios, hand-scrounged rocks and salvaged CDs. But I’ve wrangled my obsessions: side-turned crates house a few loved books, seashells accent surfaces of my choice. What items once hoarded dust, I’ve relegated to my closet. Empty space still breathes on my walls and floor. But my room feels housed, not filled, by objects suffused with my touch, things I’ve smeared with memory. My advice? Populate your room with items you love and handle. Build your new home out of things that breathe. 

More Truly And More Strange
Connor Arakaki, MC ’26

Exactly a year ago, I lost a jade necklace, and with it, its memories. 

Grieving my island home, an ocean and continent away, convinced me to write. Thus, I began my work in this daring publication that would scaffold a new home. In a season of withering leaves and exhausted light, I wrote to preserve myself. 

You and I will always be the memories of home, even the memories that eventually become marbled and forgotten. We will also become the memories that we create in these halls, more truly and more strange. 

We are the places that we will find. And we can still be the places we walk away from. 

Chloe Solomon Shiffman, SM ’26

You will fall in love with the wickedly cool Radio girl from your English 120 and decide to steal three tinned coffees from the Bow Wow to win her heart. You’ll feel incredibly confident until you walk past the register, where the cans will spill out of your stylishly oversized UO jeans and make the loudest clatter imaginable on the linoleum. The room will go dead silent. Everyone will turn to look at you, and the jaw-dropper-bass-guitarist-leather-studded goddess will never speak to you again. The security guards will let you off with a warning because even they feel bad for you. 

A few comments from a freshman in suite LC32
Sophie Lamb, JE ’27

The mob of freshmen outside the common room window look like a middle school dance, an awkward prancing of preteens desperately dislodging themselves from their pasts. 

I saw someone’s suicide note alongside “M + J had sex here” carved into a desk in the stacks and I am convinced we went wrong somewhere along our evolutionary pathways and we were never made to construct things called universities and countries and philosophy because if we were, why does everyone here seem so desperate?

I may have just watched a Supreme Court Justice play beer pong at AEPi. 

Thank god for the private bathroom on the second floor of the Schwarzman Center; I’ve been using your toilet paper as tissues for the past three days. 

Every library, every seminar room, every thickly darkened library hallway reminds me that I will never be anything as a writer, but isn’t it wonderful that the sheer amount of books amassed here have created constellations and galaxies of human experience that I could one day join? 

I keep telling people that I want to be an English major, but I wish I could instead tell them about the Aspen tree outside my bedroom window and the name of my dog and the time I smoked too much weed somewhere in Northern Idaho; I am floating here, scrambling to remember who I really am beyond Phelps gate. (It’s very rough and terrible to read, but I couldn’t think of any other way to describe my first few days here. I would appreciate input!)

In Sickness and in Health 
Daviana Rodriguez Zamora, MY ’25

It starts as a slight nuisance in the back of your throat. You’ll let out a sneeze that confirms that you are, in fact, your father’s child. It’s that dreaded, unavoidable first-year illness. I distinctly remember going to bed one night, just knowing I’d wake up feeling like I’d been run over by a bus. I ran a fever of 102 and blew my nose so frequently that eventually the only thing that came out was blood-tinged snot. I felt so homesick that I sobbed into my infected tissues, which made my head pound even harder. I wanted nothing more than for my mom to rub my back to ease my pain. I missed home and the unconditional love that came with it, the kind that makes a mother lay next to her daughter, even when she’s highly contagious. 

But in the midst of all this, I remember the apple-crisp muffin and oranges that appeared at my door one morning at 9 a.m., before my suitemate had to run to class. I remember all of the questions: did I need water before she left? What about orange juice? I remember Friday night, from the common room just behind my shut door: “Do you want a shot?! No? Okay, I’ll take it for you!” I remember finally coming out of my borderline comatose state to choruses of “There she is!” and “Oh my gosh, you totally missed…” I realized the love here would be different, but it would still be love nonetheless.

Meditations on the Freshman Flu 
Nadira Novruzov, ES ’25

When I think back to my first year, I always remember the illness. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a burning throat, trudging to CVS to pick up antibiotic prescriptions for never-ending ear infections, and a wince-inducing cough that I was constantly leaving seminar rooms to release. 

For the first three weeks of that year, I pitied the immune systems of the girls in my entryway as they fell, one by one, into the throes of illness. One late-night frat party was enough to bury them in piles of tissues for days afterward; comparatively, I felt like the picture of health. But I remember waking up on September 20th with a prickle in my throat that I knew signaled the end of my luck. From that moment on, I experienced some kind of sickness for roughly my entire first year. I would barely recover from one bout of illness when I immediately self-sabotaged by attending another party, praying that this time I would emerge on the other side with no lingering symptoms. I was always wrong. I stopped enjoying the parties and concerts I went to, either because I was already ill or because I was afraid that the mere act of attending would send me back to bed with a fever and chills. I collected a treasure trove of vitamins, syrups, cough drops, and other miscellaneous immune-boosters and deluded myself into thinking that they would miraculously cure me. All I really needed was to show myself an ounce of care, to listen to the warnings that my body was sending my way—not for one or two days, but permanently. 

Maybe it’s all a rite of passage. Maybe I wouldn’t have ever learned how to treat myself if I hadn’t felt so terrible for so many days of the year. And maybe I don’t even regret any of it: the late nights, the exhilaration and exhaustion of arriving at college. But when I think about my first year, I take a deep and grateful breath (through both nostrils) and exhale a sigh of relief—never again.

A Fallen Soldier: Commons vs. my Hydro Flask
Emily Aikens, TC ’26

My piece of advice comes in the form of a rather bleak cautionary tale. 

Like many first-year students, I quickly learned that Commons is objectively the best dining hall on this campus. Although I was initially enticed by the restaurant-quality food and the Hogwarts-esque interior, I soon discovered the true gem of Commons: the flavored syrups that you can pump into your water. I have never been more hydrated in my life than I was during my first few weeks on this campus, and I attribute that to the massive quantities of Commons’ flavored water that I consumed. Tragically, I did not grasp the concept of moderation, and I soon began abusing my access to these delicious syrups. It wasn’t enough to have the flavored water at lunch—I needed more! And so, like a true English major who did not have the scientific intuition to anticipate the consequences of her amateur chemistry experiment, I began filling up my Hydro Flask with water and flavored syrup. I’d like to say that I quickly realized that this practice was unsanitary and that I stopped after too much damage was done, but that would be a lie. Instead, when my friend asked for a sip of water and then promptly inspected the bottle because it “tasted funny,” I was horrified to learn that a colony of mold had been thriving in my Hydro Flask (which was, unfortunately, unsalvageable). 

I was then sick for three months straight and too embarrassed to go to Yale Health and explain my condition. So, first-years, take it from me: the Sober Buddy training about drinking in moderation also applies to the syrups in Commons. 

Ode to a Blank Wall 
Ana Padilla Castellanos, SM ’24.5

I wish I were one of those people who posts a picture of her room the second she gets to campus. One of those minimalists with aesthetic desks who hang their posters on move-in day. However, that kind of efficiency has never been my forte. The other day, my mom stared at my blank walls through FaceTime and asked me what was taking so long. I told her I was waiting until I had time to plan where I wanted each poster to go. I told her I wanted to get it right. She gave me the same advice she always gives me when she thinks I’m getting stuck in my head: You are your worst critic. Just rip off the Band-Aid.

Over the next four years, you will be (sometimes relentlessly) encouraged to self-actualize. You will be told to sleep more, to study more, to join more clubs. And there will be times when you will be able to meet these expectations. You might get used to the pressure; like a weighted blanket, it can lull you to sleep. Other times, you’ll spend two weeks in your undecorated single, unable to hang up a single poster. In those times, I want you to remember this: 

You’re not here to be a utility maximization machine. You are more than the tasks you’ve done, or haven’t done, or wish you had done earlier. You don’t have to earn fun or rest. You have plenty of time.

You don’t have to wait for perfection. Do things wrong, and often. Change your mind and pillows. Move your posters as many times as you want. It’s okay to be seen trying.

Time, Space, and Troy
Oscar Heller, ES ’26


I am seated on a couch in Lawrance Hall. I hear someone—let’s call him Troy—knocking on the door in irregular intervals and crushing what sounds like a beer can. I open the door. 

TROY: Wazzzupppppp [Troy’s tongue emerges on the second syllable and slaps against either side of his mouth like a fish. Some saliva leaks from his mouth. He’s wearing a white polo, khaki shorts, and Sperry’s. At this point (3:04 pm), he’s downed a few high noons, several fireball shooters, and half of a Four Loko (flavor: Loko USA). He’s from Scottsdale, and the “wazzzupppppp” is unironic]

ME: Hey, Troy. 

TROY: Letsgotobulldogbashdawgfuckyeahmannnn [It’s still 3:04 pm. Bulldog Bash is tomorrow. But Troy doesn’t care. At this point, he has suspended time through space. Every place—my suite, the stacks, HQ 101, the E&R laundry service pickup/dropoff in Farnam B—is a function. In his mind, “the partier” is merely a fiction added to the party – the party is everything, and everywhere.

ME: Uhhh, wha- 

TROY: WOOOOOOOOOOO [Troy leaves my suite with his fists in the air and continues yelling as he walks down the stairs. From the window, I watch as he approaches the statue of Nathan Hale, attempts to dap him up, offers him some Bud Light, and says “W-Y-D T-N.” He says each letter, out loud. I’m not sure where Troy is these days.]

Some Songs I Found During My First Year 
By Alex Sobrino, JE ’25

Killshot – Magdalena Bay 
For the pre-games that are more fun than the actual party. 

This Masquerade – The Carpenters 
A fan favorite for those nights when I’m neither sad nor angry, but a secret third thing. Antsy? Anxious? Reflective? I’m not sure, but this is my go-to for late-night walks when I can’t seem to sort myself out. 

Passacaglia & Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582 – Bach 
We had to analyze this for the final project in my eight-person music theory seminar, and I did it with a group of really wonderful people. Most of us don’t see each other any more, but I still think back fondly on it. 

Another Star – Stevie Wonder 
Okay, I didn’t technically hear this for the first time as a first-year (I adore the album that it’s on), but this song also came up in the aforementioned music theory seminar. Our professor told us that, in addition to 15-18th century classical organ music, he was also a big fan of Stevie Wonder and The Beach Boys. Huh. He used this specific song as an example for some theoretical concept that I can no longer recall. 

Alcohol-Free – TWICE 
My introduction to K-pop. This song is like serotonin straight into the bloodstream. 

Night Shift – Lucy Dacus 
I heard this song playing in the Pierson buttery while my friend and I were doing some homework. Neither of us are in Pierson, we just frequented the Pierson buttery because she had a little crush on one of the workers (who has now graduated). This song also had TikTok in a chokehold during my freshman year. 

Bitter – Palace 
Around a month into freshman year, my suitemates and I decided to make a shared Spotify playlist between the five of us. It has become a suite tradition to make a new playlist with updated songs every year (we all still live together). This was the very first song added to the very first of the suite playlists; it reminds me of card games on the common room floor and Brick Oven Pizza Sunday Specials. 

太陽さん (Mr Sun) – Ichiko Aoba
For sunny days on cross campus. Sometimes a random club will offer free lemonade or chocolate chip cookies, or something like that. There is a new warmth in your chest.

Iris Tsouris, DC ’25

Fall down the stairs in LC and break your right foot (avulsion fracture of the talus bone). Cry during CS50 section. Cut your bangs in the C32 bathroom sink. Cherish your suitemates. Suppress your feelings for the boy in CS50 office hours. Down jello shots at AEPi. Try stage managing. Detest stage managing. Take English 120. Fall down the Davenport laundry stairs and break your left foot (compound fracture of the talus bone). Get hazed. Get lonely. Get a B minus in CS50. Vomit on the carpet in your double (I’m so sorry, Molly). Fall in love with an emotionally unavailable girl who drives a Jeep. Apply to Study Abroad programs in southern Germany. Wear weird pants to Spring Fling. Make every callous mistake that you can. Get hurt. Do it again, and again, and again.

Cal Barton, MC ’25

Watch your parents leave. Unpack. Mentally flip the page to the next chapter of your life. Use an app to pay for laundry. Cry while folding your clothes. Do the reading. Go to class. Listen to a classmate use the word “couth” twice in one seminar. Find a study spot. Make friends. Make mistakes. Make footprints in the snow. Fall in love. Learn about trees, about Virginia Woolf, about escape velocity. Recite conjugations to an empty courtyard. Forget your umbrella. Find someone in your study spot. Find a new study spot. Call home. Crack a window. Fight a printer. (Maybe don’t do the reading.) Lose friends. Walk down the hall wearing your best towel and shower shoes. Wax poetic about your residential college. Learn what it means to hurt someone. Remember yourself and forget yourself and remember yourself again. Fail a quiz. Feel insecure. Laugh like you haven’t laughed in a long, long time. Procrastinate. Drop a fork in the dining hall. Write for the YDN. Quit the YDN. Go for a walk. Spend all night talking. Google your friend’s parents. Finally figure out how to say “I go to Yale” without sounding like an asshole. Take a picture of Harkness at sunset. Ask for help. Ask if you can just Venmo your friend for ice cream. Ask: “Will I be happy with this decision tomorrow morning?” Nap. See a play. Curse Harvard. Let tourists interrogate you about your test scores. Send some emails. Take a deep breath. Go home and feel homesick for here.

Chloe Solomon Shiffman, SM ’26

You will bond immediately with two people from your FroCo group and decide that you are going to be lifelong friends. To pay homage to your forever bond, the three of you freshly eighteen-year-olds will go to Evolution Tattoo Shop on Chapel Street, where you’ll get matching ankle tats of your acceptance video’s Handsome Dan drawing. The tattoos will be excruciating, and two of the three will get infected. Within the week, the three of you will realize you have nothing in common and never speak to each other again.

Musings of a Yale Senior (Well-Positioned to Graduate in the Spring)
Lydia Kaup, SM ’24

Hm. I’d say something about wasting time. The importance of so-called procrastination. You could talk about dancing? In your common room or in the courtyard? Dancing somewhere unusual. That’d be sort of sentimental and unexpected as advice. 

I don’t know. Aim for small seminars? 

Research professors. Develop relationships with them because of recommendations and course selection and—oh add this at the end, just how I’m saying it—because they’re people. 

Then talk about all of the people. Forming relationships with suitemates and classmates and romantic-mates? 

That doesn’t work. Reword that part later, but I’d keep the professor line as I said it to you just now. 

Also, don’t believe Yale Menus when it promises a breakfast sandwich. I’d put that in somewhere if you can fit it. 

I Have Two Things to Say
Jack Reed, BK ’25

One is important, the other, less so. I’ll let you choose which is which.

Firstly, no one really cares how you spend your time here. College is a blip. A black box full of little Yalie mice scurrying about, spending too much time justifying their existence.

The image is a difficult one. Logic-bending. Yale exudes an outsized importance that makes it conceptually, objectively, and, often, utterly silly. Nonetheless, you’ll feel its weight. Under the pressure, you might begin to lose the motivations that got you here. Perhaps, you’ll forget the skills and hobbies that won you local, even national, acclaim. With all this loss, you might begin to forget how and why you landed here in New Haven. Worse, you’ll think that others—your family, your friends, your town—are forgetting, too. But you’re not a hack; you’re growing.

You’ve already earned the right to feel proud, and everyone at home knows it. The next four years are for you, and that’s a rare thing. Don’t waste your time trying to earn it all over again.

Secondly, and my friend recently reminded me of this, don’t be the person to make GroupMes for enormous lectures.

Diary Excerpts from My First Month at Yale
Hannah Szabó, MY ’25

Sunday, August 23: Murray is huge and grand and dope and multiple times I’ve accidentally said I was in Hopper because they are both named after non-men and have the same consonant-vowel pattern: consonant → vowel → double-consonant → vowel → consonant. Should I be a linguistics major?

Tuesday, August 25: My pre-orientation group is awesome, two leaders in the same sorority. They said that even though their sorority is ‘B-tier,’ it’s actually way better than the ‘A-tier’ one because they have way more fun and take themselves less seriously: “we’re like Yale and they’re like Harvard.” They also told me that “most Yale kids are weird” but isn’t that a good thing?!?

Wednesday, September 1: I’m currently sad as fuck because Woads got rained out. I’m terminally tired, I might have strep, DS isn’t grounded in text in the way I wanted it to be, I’m not gonna see [REDACTED #1] until November. So yeah. The world doesn’t hold beauty anymore. When does sexual liberation come? And does it take being “easy” to get there? Does sex have to be detached from all meaning? Did I enjoy hooking up with [REDACTED #2]? I wonder if other people are lonely the way I am. I’m worried that yes—or is it worse if no? I want to live in New York.

Friday, September 17: First five-day week is done! Turned in my first CS pset, my first DS paper. Lunch today was incredible—such cool, fun, crazy smart, well-rounded kids. Felt so in-the-right-place in a real way. Meeting people is awesome.

Long Sentence and Advice
Leo Egger, TC ’24

This is my final semester at Yale. There is much I will miss about this place and December approaches with haste. My days in New Haven have been defined by merrymaking, merriment, tomfoolery, tom-fearing, horror, hedonism, herpetology inquiry, ornithology captivation, Egyptology study (and regret), philosophy, philology, mimesis, mimosas, minimal work, maximal work, long nights, short days, long chats, long hours (in the Herald office for example), brief loves, long loves, Ashley’s Nutella chip ice cream, needing hope, needing sleep, kneading, feeding, feeling free, freeing longing, longing, pining, fallowing, forgetting, forgoing, fantasizing, forgiveness, feeling anger, late trains from NY, early trains to NY, sudden moments of true joy and true confusion, masking, muttery, marsupials, metaphysics, metaphors, mourning, learning, and of course, the feeling once that everything awaits and all is possible.

As advice is normative in this sort of thing, I will give some. For artists, try to suffer creatively. For everyone, enjoy lunch as much as you can.

On Being Bunk-bedded and Bunk-Bedded Being.
Eli Osei, MC ’26

There is a piece of Yale belonging to you, which nothing can take away. You will lose sleep and sanity, you will leave people and spaces, but you will always have your room. Sure, it might be a six-by-six bunk-bedded box with a roommate who snores like a backfiring car, but it’s yours. Your box, your bed, your car-like roommate who’ll drive you to better days. Love these things; respect this space. Turn it into a fucking temple. Put up that Etsy print of those dirt-white flowers, those photos of past selves and old friends you’ll never see again, the letter from your summer fling that begins, “Deer baby,” and ends with, “BEAUTY IS BACK but we’re moving forward,” and, when the days get shorter and your sections get longer and life tears you for a new one then an old one then a new one again, remember those petals, those people, those perfectly endearing spelling mistakes, and the person who tacked them to those ancient walls. Cause you’re stuck with your will, and you’re stuck with your room, so let the familiar throw you forward, deer.

Black, White, and Gray
By Bella Panico, SY ’26

I admire my friends from the shade, faces glowing in the aura of the sun. We find ourselves gathered around a table outside the art gallery, resuming an endless conversation that began sometime last winter— one that we’ve stopped and restarted a hundred times since.

What kind of people are we? How did we get like this? Is it possible to change? Do we even want to?

By this point, we have beaten these questions to death. Maybe our environment silently encourages us to keep pursuing them. We do not come to a consensus. We never do.

We agree on one thing. In the past year, we have wondered more about the proper way to exist (if there is even such a thing) than we ever have.

College can be marketed as a one-way ticket for young people to “find themselves.” However, the person I was a year ago definitely believed that to be truer than I do now. First year was a rebuilding of sorts. Rather than clarifying black and white, college has added an ever-expanding gray area to my beliefs. The more stories I hear, the more I learn that everyone carries their childhood differently, that everyone is often just trying their best, and their black, white, and gray may not even be any of those colors at all.

There is rarely a right answer for how to be a perfect friend, a moral person, or even how to live a meaningful life. You likely won’t know whether you’re doing any of it right at all. It’d be naive of me to urge you, First-Year, to not be terrified. Take solace in knowing we all are.

Whether in the shade, or in the sun, all of the menial worries will eventually become second nature, and you will have plenty of time to consider how to exist.

Where to Watch Movies on Campus
Natalie Semmel, DC ’25

On your computer, in your room
Most of the time Yale WiFi isn’t nearly strong enough to support this.

Film Archive Screening Room
Tucked away on the top floor of Sterling, this is truly a gem. Take friends up to watch a film from the extensive DVD collection. I’m taking one point off because it must be booked in advance, and it’s recently been pretty hard to get a spot.

Film Archive Screening Booths
Also in Sterling Film Archive. It’s the best alternative to the screening room, especially if you’re watching solo.

The Alice Theater, HQ
Too bright, too blue, a sound vacuum. At least you won’t fall asleep, though, because the chairs are positioned so that you have to crane your neck from nearly every seat.

53 Wall Street
If you ever get a chance to watch a film in this auditorium, be grateful. Used relatively infrequently and exclusively for classes or official events, this room is filled with character, a balcony, and 35mm projection equipment.

First-Year Recommends
Tyler Watts, GH ’25

Stacks Graffiti. The quickest way to make your mark on Yale University is in the book stacks of Sterling Memorial Library. Scaling seven floors and mezzanines, the annotated desks and shelves invite you into a cohort of student ephemera. Stacks graffiti is an emotional mosaic wherein The Smiths’ discography is sandwiched between Bible verses and personal ads. Write down whatever you think about when you’re alone. If serendipity is on your side, you may even find your ink posted on @yalestacksgraffiti.

Keep a journal. Collect many notebooks, journals, and diaries. Each journal will become its own marshy ecosystem of thoughts, a kitchen sink of to-do lists, observations, reactions, and eaves-droppings. Details have meaning, and a notebook allows you to retire daily life’s mundane and surreal bits in one place. A secret diary is paramount for divulging dense, velvet things and naming-names. An enriching college life is made complete by the details and secrets kept between you and yourself—who will become your best friend. For a venerable perspective on the matter, I recommend “On Keeping a Notebook”, an essay from Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. “Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.”

Hair masks and deep conditioning treatments. Do not let your hair get used to the hard water…

Ward off evil eye. Do not speak your plans and desires to others before they materialize, and never hold onto ill-will or competition.

Photograph everything. In two years you will realize that you did actually look pretty in that top.

Staying Grounded in Yale’s Grass
Elizabeth Chivers, DC ’26

Old Campus, August 2022: It began. I picked a tree between Welch and Connecticut Halls, kicked off my dirty sneakers, and set up shop. I half-smiled at week-old acquaintances and fidgeted with the corners of my notebook.

Silliman, October 2022: My first Yale friends and I lay face up, post dinner, breathing in the last dregs of the year’s warm air. We contemplated the evening agenda, giggling from the center of our chests.

Cross Campus, April 2023: We pulled up grass while picnicking and wondered if it was going to get easier anytime soon. We settled on a tentative yes.

Yale Farm, July 2023: Nursing a slightly broken rib, I leaned against the thick base of an oak tree and tried to journal something positive about the situation. Eventually, I switched to reading more Moshfegh.

Davenport, August 2023: After waking up too early on a Camp Yale morning, I flopped myself into the too-tall grass of Lower Court, just outside my entryway, and fell asleep to the quiet conversation of my suitemates. I woke up confused and content.

Joanna Ruiz, JE ’25

Everyone who knows me knows that I hate Yale. It’s rather brash, but most people understand what I mean. Over the years, you start to realize that “Yale” isn’t just the name of the school we go to. “Yale” means the guys across the hall that leave constant messes in your shared bathroom. “Yale” means the elitist rich kids in the dining hall who make you want to gouge your eyes out every time they talk. “Yale” means the financial aid office that doesn’t give you any money. “Yale” means the school’s weird corporate side, the side responsible for growing the endowment by investing in evil and morally-ambiguous things like fossil fuels. You might grow to hate whatever meaning that “Yale” comes to take on for you. But, you might feel better about hating Yale once you realize that a lot of people do, too, at some point during their four years. Being a student here is hard, and it’s not always as happy and adrenaline-filled as the first few weeks are. There are ups and downs, and sometimes you need to be a hater to get through them.

Amanda Budejen, DC ’26

Yale will never stop offering awe. But there will come a day when you forget to take it.

You’ll be running late to chemistry and you won’t stop to look up in wonder at the buildings you pass by on your way there. Or you’ll rush from dinner to a meeting, and you’ll leave without stopping to say goodbye to the people you’re with. You’ll forget to silently thank whatever impossibility it is that brought you together—it’s only been a few months, but you can’t remember what life was like before them. Amid PSETs and auditions and exams and laundry, you’ll forget where you are, and who you’re with, and how far you had to go to get here.

It may seem impossible now, but one day, you’ll forget to be amazed. It will slip your mind like a due date or a grocery list. And then you’ll realize that half the books in Sterling are older than the country you live in, or that the painting in the YUAG that looks like a Picasso is, in fact, a Picasso.

You’re part of the amazement now—a piece of what makes this place what it is. But don’t forget to look at the world you’re in with a little wonder. Take classes on egyptology or astrophysics, randomly strike up a conversation with someone, go to that party or movie night or trip to New York you’re not sure about. Four years may seem like forever, but there will come a day when it fits in the palm of your hand, and you want to hang on a little longer. So don’t just go to college here—go to Yale, with everything that means.

Chloe Solomon Shiffman, SM ’26

You will find a mysterious, miraculous minifridge under the Grove Street Arch in Silliman. It will look expensive and new, and you won’t be able to believe that you found it in the trash. You’ll take it up to your dorm with your brand-new suitemates, wipe down the casing, and nestle it in your cave of fairy lights and impractical shoes. Then, the four of you will open the minifridge door and get slapped with the most horrific, godawful death reek coming from the freezer. This was my suite’s mini-fridge. We kept a single frozen pierogi in the freezer cabin all summer, and now our fridge is damned. The smell will never go away. Enjoy your curse.

The Dead Shall Be Raised
Theo Kubovy-Weiss, BR ‘26

There are 14,472 corpses rotting below Yale’s campus. Among them are former politicians, University presidents, and defining figures in American history, many of whom were dug up from the New Haven Green grave yard when it became too crowded. Today they lie, invisible to the public, below a green patch just beyond Grove Street.

This green patch, more formally known as the Grove St. Cemetery, is America’s oldest “city of the dead,” a cemetery designed with metallic street signs and gridded paths. The streets are only occupied by the occasional living pedestrian, but underground, the cemetery is packed. Graves nearly abut one another and new burials being squeezed into the plot’s outskirts every year. The “city” is protected by four spiky walls and a front gate that reads, quite menacingly: THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED. Remarking on those words, a University president (it is unclear exactly who) once said, “They certainly shall if Yale ever needs the property.” Clearly, even the dead are not immune to Yale’s vicious tendency to stress, propel, relocate, and discombobulate.

And yet, each of those 14,472 bodies lies unmoving and untouched. Through Yale’s persistent penchant for producing stress, they rest in peace, unburdened by deadlines, capitalistic desires, and ego. Sure, it’s not like they could stress if they wanted to, but their stillness in the face of chaos shows that calm and restfulness isn’t out of anyone’s grasp, even when evicted, thrust into a metallic city, and sandwiched shoulder to shoulder between strangers.

Particularly as a first-year, Yale can seem impossibly overwhelming. Even downtime can feel like one of the myriad things students are expected to excel at, with every free minute needing to be filled with the best meal and the best people in the most relaxing way possible. But we can take after the soulless bodies of our most esteemed alumni, and find little pockets of calm in the cortisol petri dish of Yale’s campus. Whether it’s a casket-sized dorm room or the moldy purgatory of the Sterling Stacks, peace is always within reach; you just have to find it.

Don’t Get Stuck
Hannah Nashed, BK ’26

It’s been a few weeks and people are starting to settle into a groove: classes have started, homework has piled up, and friend groups are locking down. At least, that’s how it’s gone for me. I’ll try to avoid clichés, but they’re in the nature of a reflection. Now that you’ve been forewarned, I’ll provide you with three words that have guided my Yale experience so far: don’t get stuck. We have been blessed with one of the greatest gifts anyone could receive. I’m not talking about the chance to study at Yale. I’m talking about the chance to live amongst an incredibly diverse student body filled with individuals from all walks of life, experiences, interests, and stories. Don’t stick to a “crowd.” This isn’t high school. Popularity is not a thing to be stressed about. Talk to everyone. Everyone has something to say. Don’t stick to what you know. This is the chance to try new things. Sign up for random clubs. You’ll meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise met and do things you might have never imagined. Don’t stick to your college. I’m not just talking about your residential colleges, I’m also talking about Yale. The beautiful architecture and manicured lawns that mark our campus can make it a place we don’t want to leave. When you do, however, you’ll discover that New Haven has more to offer than what lies before the Green. At the end of the day, you don’t need to listen to me at all. Or anyone for that matter. Make your opinions. But to do that, you need to experience it.

Best Case Scenario
Arrow Zhang, BF ’26

Don’t be afraid to explore and wander around and get lost and make mistakes and attend whichever club meetings pique your interest. Trust me, I’m a sophomore who just went through what you’re about to go through. My first year ended up being quite chaotic from the sheer amount of new people I met, but it was an insanely great learning experience, both in terms of finding my people and discovering myself. Try out everything!

I am so serious when I say you should show up to things you want to show up to. Best case scenario, you meet new people and have a blast. Worst case scenario, you meet new people. Don’t back down from giving things a shot. Go to the randomest places on campus. Sit with new people you don’t know at lunch. That building you’ve been passing by on your way to classes everyday? Walk into it, just for the sake of exploring. Read the Herald. Be young. Be yourself. Be daring.

A Guide to Floormate-ing
Eva Kottou, MY ’26

Your first year will be filled with choices, relationships, and endless second-guessing. The moments shared between you and your floormates will be a uniting force; it will bond and break and twist you and your fellow freshies and become a full-blown tumble of embarrassment and growth.

First off, don’t be caught blacking out in front of the water fountain. Definitely do not puke up liters of vodka in front of said installation and get slammed with a visit from Yale Health paramedics before your grounded-you-for-saying-“fuck” mom comes down for family weekend.

Don’t get tight with your suitemates. Your embraces will grow into excited shrieks and will become habit—a habit that makes the gen-pop of your floor despise your verbal domination.

Be wary of floor-cest. More specifically, do not date a floormate. Unless you do. In which case, I advise you to not forget your slides in their room the morning after. The sock-only walk of shame down the hallway is assuredly the most embarrassing five feet you will travel.

You shouldn’t remain close friends with your first-year floormates after first-year spring. There’s practically a zero percent chance you’ll have more teeth-brushing, yoga-doing bonding next year. The 2 a.m. existential crises about the meaning of commitment will be no more. Likely, you will be separated not only by a staircase, but by an entire courtyard.

Things I Witnessed While Helping With First-Year Move-In 
Anna Kaloustian, TC ’26

• A whole PC set. (A professional gamer, perhaps?) 

• Packs and packs and packs of plastic water bottles.

• A freshman moving into the last floor of Bingham D. May your soul rest in peace under that slanted roof.

• A 257-inch-flat-screen TV. That suitemate will be adored. 

• Three fridges for a four-person suite (Please communicate with your suitemates before I break my back hauling those up four flights of stairs).

• An unimpressed freshman asking, “Why? Is that good?” as I gasped at a 120-square-foot single with built-in shelves, carved wood paneling and a 360-degree view of Old Campus (I previously resided in a shoebox for two). 

• A surfboard (For business or for pleasure?). 

• Freshmen with a full length mirror, topper, bedding, Clorox wipes, bed set, new curtains, new bed, and a personal decorator. I’m a sophomore and still don’t have a shower caddy.

• A freshman with an imaginary room assigned to them (J2424 does not exist). 

An Ode to the Things You Will Need, But Not For the Reasons You Think
Ashley Choi, SY ’26

It often starts with a plastic coat hanger wedged between your door and the wall. One day this hanger will be missing or broken, as most things eventually are, and you may find an accidentally-bought textbook or a can of Campbell’s soup propping the door open in its place. And perhaps, one night (closer to finals week), someone will knock on your door and ask for the hair dryer that you tossed into your luggage at the last minute. You sleep with wet hair for several days, until the borrower, the hair dryer, and an explanation arrive at your suite, smelling strongly of all-nighters and a last-minute painting project.

As time passes, you will not recall the intended purpose of half of what you bought during your back-to-school-shopping craze. The 50%-off saucer chairs from Target, meant to decorate the common room, double as extra hampers, the calendar whiteboard reminds you not of important dates but of the necessary equations for Introductory Microeconomics, and the TV is now a drying rack for clothes that are still damp despite an extra 25-cent cycle. The truth is, whether these items are used as intended or not, you will find that you just have too much stuff—and also hardly anything at all.

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