Joe Yale arrives on campus. He unpacks his stuff and says goodbye to his parents and high school girlfriend. Everything goes smoothly: grades are solid, friends are fun, days are busy, and nights are crazy.
During vacation, his family finds his newfound extrovertedness and occasional references to Spenser curious. Between a delayed flight and Connecticut Limo hell-ride back to school, Joe Yale thinks about the smorgasbord of students he’s about to rejoin.
The Midwesterner: Cow-tipping
They’re from the heartland, where the prairies are rolling and Big Ten football is all-important. I’ve come across several Yalies who believe that the Midwest is all corn. As a Chicago native, I must say, you’re just wrong.
During the first months of school, I was constantly made fun of for my accent. Root, roof, cat, bad — all became words I avoided after a few weeks of friendly torture. “How much is the pop machine?” I would ask. “The what?!” I guess it’s “soda” here?
I encountered several other cultural differences. For example, no one’s ever heard of 16-inch softball outside of Chicago, or “Chi-town” to those Illinois suburbanites who think that’s what we city folk call it. Maybe 16-inch will be an intramural someday.
As for the football, beer-belly, corn-husking, cow-tipping stereotypes, yes, maybe somewhere that exists. But Midwesterners are also lovers of baseball and stuffed pizza. The next time someone makes fun of me for corn-husking at RALF (Branford’s Right After Lunch Friday), I just might give you a warm, welcoming Midwestern hug. Or maybe I’ll just give you a New York glare.
The New Yorker: The land of taxi drivers
They say “hArrible.” They like to go for cAUffee to tAWlk. They think Jersey is a separate country, and how dare that girl upstairs say she’s from the city when she lives in Tenafly!
New Yorkers are tagged for being opinionated, loud and cultured. The cab drivers are ferocious, and for every police officer, there’s a bagel store just around the corner.
I’ve been to New York several times during my life, exploring the theater scene and museums, the colleges and Times Square. But it wasn’t until this year that I knew New Yorkers.
Has anyone else ever noticed at Shabbat dinner that Jewish girls from the city tend to have chunky shoes with square soles? They like Broadway and lox. And they use “city” interchangeably with “Planet Earth.”
The Californian: Land of sun-kissed cheeks and snow neophytes
From last Saturday afternoon until early Sunday morning, Old Campus was alive with beaming freshmen. It had snowed and our inner children had rushed out to play.
But as the New Englanders and Pennsylvanians put on their mittens and snowpants, the Californians just stared. After I gently calmed down an L.A. native by telling him the snow would eventually melt, the pleasantly drunk freshman slowly joined the rest of us in our 24-hour reversion to yesteryear.
Don’t worry, sunbathers. Your winter pounds will go away come spring, and, anyway, you can always use tan spray until June.
The Texan: Southwestern flair
They like meat, they live on ranches, and they say “ewwwww no” and “hella lot.” Every once in a while, I smell BBQ when I leave Vanderbilt Hall, and I know it must be the Texan Club.
Texans are laid-back and sassy — you can tell they’re from the Lone Star State when they strut into the dining hall wearing big belt buckles with “Bush 2000” patches on their leather bags.
Slightly exaggerated, I admit. I don’t usually mess with Texas.
I may never shed my Wrigley Field poster and cravings for deep dish — they are important reminders of home. But try as I might to stay faithful to my Midwestern roots, I’ve acquired a lot of Yale culture as well. I have chunky Shabbat shoes and a “carabiner.” I despise DUH, think weenie bins are suicide inducers, and when it’s warm, will study beneath the elms.
We’re Yalies now, and getting used to wearing that label on our sleeves.
Sarah Weiss is a freshman in Branford College. Her columns run on alternate Wednesdays.