WEEKEND does Bulldog Days

A new colossus.
A new colossus. // Annelisa Leinbach

Yes, we know that bulldog days are over. The pizza has all been and the prefrosh have already made they way out of our maze of gothic architecture and back home. While they’ll spend their next few days unsticking those little paper ads for obscure clubs and performances from the crannies of their brand new Yale sweatshirts (and recovering from spa water hangovers), WEEKEND decided to take a trip down memory lane of our own. And so, we dredged up some of our favorite, least favorite and possibly invented, memories of our own visiting weekend (no caps, sad, I know), and our other visits to Yale.

Prefrosh, We Really Do Want You Here

As a recruitment coordinator for the Admissions Office, I get to see dreams come true. Admissions Officers may admit the new class, but in some ways, my job is better — and more exciting. Officers deliver their decisions on a single day, while we work with prospective and admit students for months. We get to watch them fall in love with Yale.

Bulldog Days is the natural culmination of our work. There’s nothing like talking to prefrosh over a meal or on a random street corner and seeing their eyes widen and jaws drop when I compare residential colleges to Hogwarts Houses, or when I talk about that interdisciplinary seminar that expertly melds together three or even five seemingly unrelated topics.

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Bulldog Days projects unrealistic, misleading or flat-out untrue ideas of Yale that may end up damaging incoming freshmen further down the line. While I truly appreciate this perspective and the thoughtfulness of its proponents, I’d have to respectfully disagree with it. I’ll even admit that I was one of the misinformed kids coming into freshman year — I really thought that every club wanted to have me, that anyone could get into any class if they really tried and, perhaps most heartbreakingly, that everyone would always be nice.

Even so, it wasn’t too difficult to wrap my head around realities once they sank in — mostly because I found that Yale had many assets that weren’t featured during BDD. Newer clubs, for instance, or smaller departments with equally interesting professors, or less outgoing but fascinatingly kind and talented friends.

Prefrosh, if you’re reading this, know that the Admissions Officers and others involved have worked backbreakingly hard to put on this program for you. It isn’t just to boost our yield rates. I can tell you from firsthand experience that we care about you, and we want you to come to Yale because we think you would contribute positively to campus culture. That’s it, plain and simple.

Yes — if you choose to come, there absolutely will still be moments of disappointment, anger, confusion or outright distrust, perhaps sometimes directed specifically at the University administration. And yes, things will change, some for the better, others not so much. Your next four years will be unpredictable, so just make the best decision that you can in this moment.

For now, just let the dream live.

Contact Wesley Yiin at wesley.yiin@yale.edu.

 

What I Learned

Bulldog Days teaches you so many good things. I learned lots of things on my Bulldog Days three years ago. Important, useful things, like what it’s like to have your very first experience with hard alcohol. I was an 18-year-old who, for an undoubtedly irrational reason, feared that he was somehow being watched by administrators from his strict-on-alcohol-related-fronts boarding school 150 miles away. And I learned that staring wide-eyed into the full shot glass would neither make the clear liquid go away, nor make me cool. I also learned that it was like totally not a big deal to be drinking as a pre-frosh — like, whatever, get over yourself, duh. I learned this indirectly, when I saw a friend of mine from the same boarding school vomit into the bushes on High Street. Simple! There are no rules in college! Things are different! I learned such good things.

The other important thing I learned is that pomegranate vodka tastes neither like pomegranate nor vodka. It tastes like fire. I also learned that, if you have never drunk before, one shot of flavored liquor is enough to make you drunk enough to sit with friends on a blanket in the middle of Old Campus, strumming sing-alongs on a guitar at a freezing two in the morning. I learned so many things then.

During the day, I had been dragged to a lecture on environmental technologies in Davies Hall. There, I learned nothing. I left Yale the next morning, brain filled with the fun things I had learned — none of which I could speak of at my strict boarding school. Those things could wait.

Contact Will Adams at william.adams@yale.edu.

 

 

Improv and Cellos

During the second night of my Bulldog Days, I endured two hours of an experimental improv comedy show. I’m the kind of girl who cracks up over singing snowmen and other innocent Disney-esque jests. Sarcasm goes over my head 70 percent of the time. But for two excruciating hours, I tried to laugh at people dressed in white rags, screaming, crawling, stabbing and humping.

I failed miserably and sat flaring my nostrils and twiddling my thumbs. Some girl was howling the whole time, and at the end of the show, she thanked the actors for how hysterical they were. The prefrosh who dragged me along were also completely entranced. I was more freaked out than entertained and I practically kissed the ground upon exiting that theater.

Later, things got a bit better. I met up with Kay, my violinist friend from music camp who I hadn’t seen in years, and we went to the extracurricular bazaar together. We had fangirled over a Low Strung performance at Woolsey Hall the night before and, as we passed their table in Lanman Center, I half jokingly whispered in her ear, “Cellists are sooooo hot.” Apparently I’m a pretty terrible whisperer because some of the guys stared at us and exchanged smug glances.

Coincidentally, the guy I’m now dating is in Low Strung and had heard what I said to Kay — I’m glad he thought I was more cute than scrubby. The awkward days of being a prefrosh may be gone, but my dorkiness remains steadfastly the same.

Contact Audrey Luo at audrey.luo@yale.edu.

 

The Mystery of the Phantom Prefrosh

I had a prefrosh once. Long ago, in the wilds of freshman year. I was practically a prefrosh myself — my eyes were bright, my tail was bushy — but I knew my way around. I loved nothing better than walking the streets of New Haven in the middle of the night, under the light of the full moon, and also under the light of streetlights.

I told Yale I wanted to host a fellow born adventurer. When I met the kid, he seemed to fit the bill: Tall, strong, with a grip like steel and the calves of a tennis champion. Turns out he was a tennis champion. I’d swung the racket a bit myself in high school, so we quickly became fast friends.

That evening, after he’d enjoyed a long night of singing, improv comedy, IM volleyball, macroeconomics, drinking, vomiting, and all the other classic pursuits of the Yale man, he asked me to show him a secret place. I took him to the Hall of Graduate Studies, where my favorite trapdoor leads to a marvelous view of the Yale Power Plant. We climbed through the roof, admired the view for a while, and talked about the romantic partners we’d left behind. (He was dating his male doubles partner—really, the epitome of a Yale man.)

Then I climbed down. I waited a minute, expecting that he’d be right behind me. Then another minute. I climbed back up to look for him. But he wasn’t on the roof. I called his cell phone — no answer. I scoured the halls of HGS and howled his name at the moon. I even went to Toad’s to search for him, to no avail. I returned to my room with a cute girl I’d just met, hoping he’d be nestled safely in his sleeping bag. He was not.

I didn’t tell Yale I’d lost a prefrosh; as far as I know, they never found out. I scanned the local newspaper in the guy’s hometown, and startled at the sight of a story on a boy who’d gone missing on a college visit. It turned out to be an unrelated case. I called his phone once a week for six months. No answer.

Every Bulldog Days since then, as I wander the campus late at night, I’ve heard his voice, floating faintly over the din of the A Capella Showcase.

“Aaron? Aaron? Where you at, man?”

Then I sprint back to my dorm in panic, never looking behind me, until I’m nestled safely in his sleeping bag, which I’ve kept for myself. It’s a really comfortable sleeping bag.

Contact Aaron Gertler at aaron.gertler@yale.edu.

 

My Dysfunctional Yale Visit

The first time I came to Yale, I was with both of my brothers, my parents and my grandma. It was May 2008 and my sister was graduating. I don’t remember much of Commencement weekend; it was largely a blur, possibly made blurrier by the unbearable East Coast humidity and the fact that, as a native Angeleno, I was forced to not rely on cars for the first time.

But a few memories do stand out. I remember staying with my entire family in Swing Space and going just a little stir crazy. I remember reading “The Scarlet Letter” that weekend, and really coming into my own as a disagreeable teenager.

I’m not sure what it was: maybe it was a misguided emulation of the troublemaking, semi-possessed character of Pearl in “The Scarlet Letter,” maybe it was my homebred aversion to walking. Whatever it was, I lost it one day while walking down the street with my family. My brother was picking on me and I just began whaling on him in the middle of the street, until a Yale policeman accosted me and asked me to stop. My mom thought I was going to be arrested on the spot.

That wasn’t the last of my unpromising encounters with Yale. There was also the time I decided to leap frolicsomely into a hammock and then immediately flipped over, banging my head on the wooden base. My mom thought I was literally dead. I can’t exactly say that Yale screamed “perfect fit” after that.

Before we left, my mom said, “Try to remember everything you can, because we sure as hell aren’t taking another trip out here for you to visit.” I tried to remember and came up empty except for the minor traumas, but hey, I still ended up here — and things have been uphill ever since.

Contact Andrew Koenig at andrew.koenig@yale.edu.

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