As of Monday, the freshman class of 2020 has been living at Yale for one and a half months. We’ve learned a lot (and still have a lot more to learn - there’s no way I’m the only one who still gets lost sometimes, right?) That being said, here are 12 things I wish I had known before this whole wild ride began.
1. Bring. A. Fan.
Look, everyone is a little tight on luggage space during move in, especially people who are flying in. But if you would prefer not to sweat all the way through two or three changes of clothing, you’re definitely going to want an electric fan. Plus, it’ll be so, so nice to have it during the first few weeks because no AC. (!!!) And yeah, it gets real cold real fast, but without a fan, you’ll be really sweaty during the first month of Yale, and that’s when all the oh so important first impressions are made.
2. Move in earlier as opposed to later
Upperclassmen movers are the best! But if you show up late, they’ll have been lifting heavy objects up countless flights of stairs for several hours, and they 100% deserve that pizza break they might be taking when you get there. In other words… have fun lugging your own suitcases up to your suite. Plus, moving in takes a while, and you’re very likely to get disgustingly sweaty along the way (see #1), so you’re going to want time to take a shower (or maybe two or three).
3. Be prepared to walk everywhere
Me when I have to go to Science Hill
Hitting those step counts just got a whole lot easier. I was not prepared for how many miles and flights of steps I would be walking, and while I’m not complaining, I certainly can’t say I was mentally ready. And it definitely would have been great to understand how to use the shuttle system early on in order to avoid the whole struggle in the first place.
4. Everyone is really, really nice...
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who spent a good portion of my summer stressing about making friends in college. Surprise! People are genuinely nice here, and it doesn’t take long to find people you really care about.
5. …but you’re still going to spend a lot of time alone
I don’t think I was ready for how much time I would spend walking alone from place to place. That’s definitely a bit of a culture shock coming from high school, when you most likely didn’t walk fifteen minutes to class with no one but you, yourself, and your deepest, darkest insecurities. (And don’t get me started on eating alone.) Being alone doesn’t mean you’re socially inept, though - if anything, that downtime is a good chance to recharge after all the small talk and socializing you’ll be doing during the first few weeks. And it’s completely accepted (and really quite common) to be alone during meals, walking from place to place, in your room, and… well… whenever.
6. How to BlueBook (and other academic things that you really, really should not screw up)
Deadlines come up real fast, fam. Confession: I didn’t really understand the concept of BlueBooking until a few days before my schedule was due. Cue frantic scrambling. Talk to your frocos to learn more so you don’t have to pay the terrifying $50 fee for turning your schedule in late!
7. Where to buy cheap textbooks
Oh, man. I remember those days back in high school when we got to complain about textbooks because they were boring and beaten up. Now we get to complain about textbooks because they’re boring, beaten up, and ridiculously expensive. There are tons of options for buying reasonably priced textbooks out there, like the YHHAP book exchange, online, or Free & For Sale. And I have met many, many people (myself included) who paid too much for something that could’ve been obtained for much less somewhere else. Save those dollars for necessities like Ashley’s and late-night Insomnia runs instead!
8. This little thing called the freshman flu
If you didn’t put DayQuil and cough drops on your packing list, you might want to reconsider. My body was not ready for the tidal surge of coughing and sneezing that swept me away on a germy wave of communal sickness. Side effects of living with a hundred other people, I suppose.
9. How talented everyone around you is…
Me basically 24/7
Look, it’s Yale. Clearly, everyone is going to be really, really good at something (or maybe everything). But it’s a whole different thing to hear that fact in undergraduate admissions sessions you attended as a high schooler than it is to see your suitemate get into three different a cappella groups while your friend is a nationally recognized artist and some kid you sit next to in class has met the president. Now that gets a little intimidating.
10. ...and how competitive extracurriculars can be
HAHAHAHA no really please love me
College is a time to try new things, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Well, they weren’t wrong. There are so many opportunities to do all kinds of things in college. But a good number of those opportunities require an application or an audition, and as previously mentioned, Yale is full of uber-talented people. So while that group you want to get into might advertise that you don’t need any experience to join, there’s a good chance you’ll be competing against people who have been practicing for years.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try, of course. People do get in without experience! It’s just a whole lot harder than you might hope.
(Speaking of which, shoutout to the Boola for giving me this position. You’re the best. I love you. Please don’t kick me out.)
11. How real the college pride is...
When Yale Up has possessed your soul
Your residential college is the best, and you would rather die than say otherwise. No further explanation needed.
Oh, and Harvard sucks.
12. ...and how quickly you'll call this place home
We might still be the clueless freshmen, but we know enough to feel (or at least begin to feel) like we’ve found somewhere we’ll call home for the next four years. And that is a beautiful thing.