The night before I was to board a plane that would leave me in a foreign place 3,000 miles from my farmhouse and vineyards, I sat on my bed and stared out the window. I watched the birds hop around under the vines, and my cat, Miss Chat (that’s French for “cat”), as she waited to pounce.
Sitting there on my bed, now barren with my stuffed animal collection packed away, I was sure I’d be homesick at Yale. My pets would be gone, my grandparents wouldn’t be there. And my room would be left in the hands of my 12-year-old brother. That alone is enough to make any girl cry.
I was sure my roommates would hate me. I was positive that I would be mugged while walking in New Haven. All in all, I knew that I’d be ready to go back home after a few weeks. Little did I know that when I arrived, there would be so much to do that there wouldn’t be time to be homesick, much less cry on my bed.
Move-in day speaks for itself. Once you’ve managed to lug sheets, towels, lamps and bookshelves up to your room, you are left with the job of putting it all away. Believe me, finding places to stash your things in Lanman-Wright Hall is no easy task. After three weeks, I’m still at a loss as to where to put things, much to the dismay of my very organized roommate.
After unpacking and tossing computer packaging outside, you are finally able to see your suitemates, who, up until now, were hidden behind duffel bags and cardboard boxes. There are, of course, a few moments of awkward silence, but the knowledge that you are at Yale provides a common bond for all. (Or at least it had better, since you’re stuck living together for the next year.)
After turning in at an ungodly hour and sleeping in a foreign bed that is nowhere near as hard as they claim, you wake up on Saturday morning and wonder where you are. Once you’ve pinched yourself a few times, you make a trip to the bathroom to brush your teeth with the 11 other girls on your floor at the same sink, and begin to wonder how you’re going to make it through the year with two shower stalls. Then comes the trek to University President Richard Levin’s house after the Freshman Assembly, and a long line for handshakes. And there are, of course, an infinite number of introductions to people whose names you’ll never manage to remember. Take one look at Yale’s “Calendar for the Opening Days of College” and you’ll see that the first week is just a blur of events.
So here I am, a Yalie and a Piersonite for three weeks and counting, sitting at my window yet again. My Central California vineyards have been replaced by Lanman-Wright’s courtyard; the chirps of birds have been replaced by the chatter of college students, the bells in Harkness Tower, and the sounds of angry drivers when another person steps into the crosswalk.
In a way, I was right: New Haven is a culture shock for me. Sprinting across Elm Street to get to Commons was an experience, and I’ll admit that I’m a bit disoriented sometimes. During the thunderstorm one night in the second week of class, I almost fell out of the top bunk because I woke up thinking I had to put my horses into the barn to keep them out of the rain. (My roommate likes that story.)
I miss being able to go to sleep in complete silence, save for the sound of an occasional car driving down the country roads. I’ve noticed that the sky looks purplish here at night; I prefer my black sky with bright stars at home. Oh, and the fruit here is nothing like what we have at home.
But am I homesick? No, there isn’t time to be. I guess that’s Yale.
Sarah Jones is a freshman in Pierson College.