Maybe you’ve never really been away from home before and you’re worried that you’ll be the only one feeling homesick. Or maybe home is across the globe and just the thought of living in America is a new and scary prospect. Or maybe you just want to meet some new people and get a feel for what Yale will be like before you actually arrive. Well have no fear, because whether you want a few last days of camp before you start college or need help getting a social security number, there’s an orientation program that’s right for you.
Freshman Outdoor Orientation Trips: “Bad weather makes for good friendships,” said FOOT organizer Sasha Waring ’03. So if a week in the woods with no showers or toilets with only other incoming Yalies and the beauty of the wilderness around you sounds like your idea of a good time, then FOOT is what you’ve been looking for.
For eight years now, FOOT has been taking freshmen into the woods for a few days of rustic bonding. Over 40 trips, each with 10 incoming freshman and two upperclass leaders, will spend either four or six days hiking in seven different locations including the Delaware Water Gap and the Berkshire Mountains.
Students rise early to cook their own breakfast and break down camp to prepare for the customary three to 10 miles of daily hiking. FOOTies, as they are affectionately called, spend their hours playing trail games, singing songs, and generally getting to know one another. However, if the idea of roughing it with a backpack makes you cringe, don’t worry — there are trips for students of all hiking abilities.
Harvest: If FOOT sounds like a bit much, Harvest may provide a more laid-back alternative. This newest orientation program is only a year old and gives freshmen an opportunity to get acquainted while working on local organic farms. Freshmen who participate in Harvest will “get to know each other, enjoy the outdoors, and familiarize themselves with the workings of small-scale family farming,” Judith Joffe-Block ’04 said. Students are able to take showers and enjoy the comforts of sleeping in a barn instead of under a tarpaulin as FOOTies do. Groups also have about a day of non-farm activities including visiting local swimming pools and hiking. A smaller program than FOOT, Harvest had three trips last year of about 10 students each, with two upperclass leaders per group, and hopes to field six trips this year. So if you like working the earth in a relaxed setting and enjoy the comforts of a good old American farm, Harvest is your program.
Freshperson Conference: The most like summer camp of all the programs, FPC is a three-day, two-night trip to Camp Jewel in Colebrook. The approximately 200 participants join about 40 counselors for hiking, sports and socializing. Many performance groups visit, and there are panel discussions on many aspects of Yale life such as homosexuality and drinking. Participants have said the best part of FPC is the sheer number of people you’re able to meet in such a short time. So if you’re looking for a program that lets you meet others and get a glimpse of Yale life, FPC is right up your alley.
Orientation for International Students: As its name implies, OIS is designed to ease the move to America for about 100 foreign students each year. Like Mehul Kamdar ’05 from Mumbai, India, many international students are unable to attend Bulldog Days and have never seen the campus before.
“The few days before school started were not too hectic, and so it was easier for me to get to know the campus,” Kamdar said.
International students enjoy panel discussions on topics like banking and American culture, along with practical matters such as getting a social security number.
Cultural Connections: Geared specifically toward African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, and Native American freshmen, CC is designed to celebrate Yale’s diversity as well as help them adjust to campus life. Students will discuss cultural issues with faculty, take trips to local museums, and see presentations on aspects of campus life given by current Yalies of similar cultural backgrounds. CC students also take a day trip to meet the participants of FPC. The program culminates in a talent show featuring past and current participants.
With mainstays such as FOOT and FPC returning for another summer of trips and promising newcomers like Harvest ready to impress incoming students, everyone is sure to find an orientation program tailored just for them.