Joshua Baize

Every time I go home for winter break and see my friends who go to other colleges fretting about the classes they signed up to take weeks ago, I’m reminded of why shopping period is one of the most distinct advantages of the Yale experience. Shopping period is stressful, sure, but it also allows students greater flexibility in shaping their own learning. For some, it’s a time to dive deeply into their own field of study; for others, it’s a time to branch out and pick a class in a subject they’ve never taken before. And for me, shopping period is wonderful because it gives me an opportunity to kick back, relax and distract the people sitting around me in the lecture hall with my utterly baffling internet activity.

Yes, siree, there’s no time like shopping period to sidetrack the attention of literally everyone sitting around me in class by looking up “lemur eating holy grail original no Photoshop” on Bing Images while muttering what might be the Lord’s Prayer backwards under my breath!

Generally speaking, I try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to class during shopping period, especially if I’m headed to a big lecture. While this isn’t always possible — It’s a busy time, after all! — it does help me make sure that I get a seat in lecture, which is vital for ensuring that every person around me will spend the whole lecture staring in a sort of bemused horror as I painstakingly craft a Prezi about moth genitals and then repeatedly email it to my dad. Plus, besides being more comfortable, having an actual seat helps to ensure that the people who inevitably have to sit on the floor have little choice but to stare in confused wonder up at me as I watch a looped GIF of Jerry Seinfeld breastfeeding a smaller Jerry Seinfeld, then make that GIF my desktop background.

Once the professor starts to lecture, oh boy, that’s when the fun really begins! One of the best things about shopping period, in my humble opinion, is that the usual classroom dynamic is reversed: Professors are trying their best to sell the student body on their class. For some students, that means they can shop dozens of classes to ensure they’re taking the cream of the crop. For me, it means that instead of furtively switching between the inscrutable YouTube video I’m watching and my notes, I can focus all my attention on the video, which is called “Charles Darwin Nude Slideshow NOT YET COLORIZED” and seems to feature mostly a crudely animated rabbit retracting its ears into its head, grinning broadly and dying. Sometimes, if I’m feeling bold, I can even get away with turning the volume up a little bit, and let me tell you, the inhuman bleats coming from my laptop tend to attract a bit of attention in the lecture hall!

I hope you don’t get the wrong idea, though — I don’t just go to lectures! Actually, there’s a decent chance you’ve seen me in a seminar or two. You might remember me as the guy in “Writing about the Performing Arts” yesterday who spent 45 minutes Googling various permutations of “how to get on the dark web if you’re protestant.” No? Well, if you want to say hi, I’ll be shopping “Readings in Literary Japanese” this afternoon. Just look for the person reading the Wikipedia entry on the Dyatlov Pass Incident while VERY intently muttering “Uncle Igor” over and over and over!

In sum, there are more things I love about Yale than I can count, but there aren’t many I love more than shopping period. The freedom it affords Yalies, the trust the University has in its students and the fact that it’s a two-week period when I basically can get away with spending every second of class time photoshopping Peter Salovey’s head onto a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover, buying what appear to be gloves with thirteen fingers on each hand from a discount site in Estonia, writing a blog post about the Unabomber in which I incorrectly but consistently refer to him as “Delaware’s most notable fuckboi,” reading an Aaron Sibarium op-ed or doing something else utterly batshit on my computer while I serve as an enormous distraction to both myself and others — to me, that’s what Yale’s really all about.

Micah Osler micah.osler@yale.edu