The first week of freshman year isn’t supposed to be easy.
It’s hot and muggy, filled with boxes to carry and computers to set up. But the good news is it passes quickly and any pain fades immeasurably as you meet your fellow Yalies and make friends. In fact, any suffering makes meeting people all the more sweet.
Much less daunting than it appears, meeting people at Yale is actually simple and follows a distinct pattern.
“During the first week of school, you meet a thousand people and ask the same four questions — What’s your name? Where are you from? What college are you in? and What’s your major? — and never remember any of it,” Alayna Stone ’04 said.
Nevertheless, everyone generally settles into place smoothly as classes start and people get into routines. As in high school, classes and extracurricular activities seem to be ideal places to meet other Yalies. There is a clear common interest, so you’ll at least have something to talk about beyond your exceedingly high SAT scores.
A good number of activities at Yale require high levels of commitment, but they also come with a built-in social structure and are a way to meet and befriend upperclassmen starting at the beginning of the year.
“I met my closest friends in the Duke’s Men [one of Yale’s a cappella groups], but it took awhile before I got to know them really well,” Brian Stromquist ’04 said.
But for many, their living arrangements are the source of their most immediate, and perhaps best, friendships. By virtue of instantaneous and constant contact between people in the same entryway or residential college, Yalies have a tendency to become friends with people in their entryways, at least at the start.
“My best friends live next door and downstairs from me,” Annie Garment ’04 said. “It’s remarkably convenient.”
The active pursuit of new friends, especially at the somewhat bewildering start of college, is a noble one. But it is not at all impossible, although the first week will likely be confusing, loud and drunk. Naples, a stereotypical Ivy League pizza place on Wall Street, has walls and tables carved by Yalies of old and is a good place to try to meet people.
The area of New Haven around the Yale campus abounds with similar places — burger joints and convenience stores open late in which Yale students congregate.
There will also be the slew of fraternity parties, singing group parties, suite parties and other organization’s parties where you’ll at least be able to help someone pump beer out of a keg, if not meet some of your fellow Yalies.
“The first week of school was crazy and fun,” Dan Mattingly ’04 said. “And if I didn’t form truly profound relationships or make my best friends, at least I had a good time.”
Starting school is a bit like joining a herd of blind peacocks — everyone is a little lost but they’re all in the same place. Each is interesting and has something good to show, but this isn’t Harvard –they’re not trying too hard to impress each other.
Any advice on how to act and make friends during this time is best taken with a grain of salt. Be yourself, try to figure out where the bathrooms are and how to hook up your Internet connection, and chances are everything will take care of itself.