SYDNEY: BDD blues

Fact: When my friend returned home from Bulldog Days, she had developed a rash on her forearms due to the amount of time she had spent with them awkwardly crossed over her chest. The moral of this story is not to warn against crossing your arms, but rather to let you know that, as you’ve probably noticed, Bulldog Days comes with a large dose of awkward, the side effects of which may include a rash on the forearms.

I promise, this is not what Bulldog Days is trying to give you. It’s trying to give you a nicely packaged and complete image of Yale. This, quite simply, is just not possible. It’s quite possible that Bulldog Days may actually do a better job of giving you the rash.

As I walked out of Phelps Gate yesterday evening, I was almost run over by what was, I’m sure, a lovely prospective class of 2017-er. The frazzled boy seemed concerned that he was missing 28 events key to Understanding Yale.

In general, I feel as though Yale does a pretty solid job fulfilling most of its Bulldog Days promises — you get lots of free food, you get a place to sleep, you meet incredible and interesting people, listen to celebrity speakers, and attend exciting classes that, maybe, for the first time in your life, can’t be summed up in a single word like “English,” and often require absurd acronyms and abbreviations.

But I think it fails in its central promise: I’m not sure if anyone can leave this whirlwind of excitement and congratulations and “Signature Events” with a real and tangible Understanding of Yale. And I don’t advise trying. In the next two days, you will face a million small decisions — should I go to a cappella at Shake Shack or a cappella with bubble tea? — and one very large and important one: deciding where you will attend college.

Personally, I was very lucky in that my college process went smoothly and simply. I fell in love with Yale on a campus visit my junior year, got in early and the rest, as they say, is history. But many, if not most, of you are not imagining Yale vs. Yale scenarios (freshman year in L-Dub or TD?) — you’re trying to make a decision between Yale and Not Yale. And I don’t know if Bulldog Days will help you in the way that you want it to.

I knew I wanted to go to Yale, I could list reasons why I believed this to be true ad infinitum (so can you, we all wrote that short answer), but I don’t think I truly knew that Yale was, as the college counseling jargon refers to it, “the right fit” until a few months into my first semester. If you think you already know this, you are wrong — how can you see yourself in a life of unidentified variables? No matter how many root beer floats you have with the women’s rugby team, you won’t understand what it means to be a member of the team until your first tackle in a Yale jersey. No matter how many organizations and clubs send you emails, they won’t give you a more complete image of campus culture at Yale until they’re coming to your Yale email address.

Given that no combination of events in your Bulldog Days Bluebook will lead you to lux and enlightenment, don’t stress yourself out waiting for a moment of revelation to lead you to a decision. Consider the facts: Sometimes it comes down to the age-old test of a pro-con list. For now, take your free food to a quiet place and allow yourself some time for self-reflection — and avoid contracting a rash.

Caroline Sydney is a freshman in Silliman College. Contact her at caroline.sydney@yale.edu .

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