Inspired by Julie Beck from “The Atlantic” and her series “The Friendship Files,” Isa Dominguez has a conversation with two first-years from Timothy Dwight College. They were matched as suitemates and they discuss their first impressions of each other and how they bonded through jam sessions and meals. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Maggie Schnyer ’24, from Connecticut
Christina Young ’24, from California
Isa: First and foremost, guys, how did you meet?
Maggie: We met because we were randomly assigned to each other as roommates by our dean.
Christina: Yeah, I walked in one day and Maggie was there. Before we met, we didn’t really talk much. We messaged each other on Instagram and that was it. And then I showed up.
Isa: What was your first impression of each other through Instagram and in the suite?
Maggie: You said that you were nervous about meeting me, in a bad way.
Christina: Wait, what? I was just gonna say that I was scared you were too cool for me and we weren’t gonna be friends.
Maggie: Aw. I messaged Christina one day and you seemed really nice. The first thing we talked about was getting a carpet, right? For the rooms?
Christina: Yeah, we talked about what stuff we were bringing.
Maggie: Oh yes, lots of coordination. I feel like we didn’t really talk until we got here first semester.
Christina: Also you happened to message me while I was at the beach. I also had questionable connection at the beach so sometimes it just wouldn’t send.
Isa: How was that first day when you all met each other?
Christina: I remember it was a lot of sitting on the couch, walking in circles on my rug, asking the usual “Oh, what’s your major, what are your hobbies and stuff?” And then it was also a lot of hiding in our rooms under the excuse of the Yale training videos … for drugs and alcohol.
Maggie: Oh, I forgot about those.
Christina: Yeah, every time we weren’t talking, we would just say “Oh, I’m gonna go work on that” and go into our rooms and close the door.
Maggie: I feel like last semester, when I had work, I would always be in my room so I’d see a lot less of you. But now I’m always here [in the common room].
Christina: I can’t escape you if I tried.
Maggie: You can’t escape me.
Isa: For that first semester, how do you feel like your friendship developed? Aside from being just suitemates?
Maggie: We definitely spent a lot of time together and also, because we’re both musicians, that’s something we have in common.
Christina: I remember the first time we practiced, we were both really scared to play in front of each other, [and] we didn’t want to sound bad. And we didn’t want other people, like our neighbors, to hear us so we both practiced at the same time in our rooms.
Maggie: I think we started spending a lot of time together because we had our little group … and so we were definitely spending a lot of time together then, but this semester especially, we’ve had more time to spend just together.
Christina: I think when we came back too, after not being together for two months, we were really excited and the first week before everything happened, we just did everything together. We unpacked everything together, we set up our calendar, we were extra organized too. We even set up a workout plan to work out together.
Maggie: We’re not following through.
Christina: We did a solid week. We decorated the suite together and now we feel like it’s more of a collective effort, decorating the suite and stuff. What else?
Christina: Oh yeah, we had a ton of jam sessions. … I think we both held back playing as much music as we’d like last semester because we didn’t know how musically friendly our suites would be. And I think after we realized we are going to be the most musical suite, we went all out and came back with every instrument we own.
Isa: And how often do you do jam sessions?
Maggie: We try at least once a week.
Christina: We try.
Maggie: At least.
Christina: Even if we’re not actually having a jam session, the stuff we do when we’re not in a jam session translates into a jam session. Like when we practice our instruments individually, we bring that into our jam sessions. When we just hang out together, we also bring that into our jam sessions.
Maggie: Yeah, last semester we didn’t do any improv. But this semester, we’ve been doing a lot of making our own stuff, and I think we’ve gotten a lot better at reading what the other person’s about to do musically and personally.
Isa: Outside of those jam sessions and outside of class, do you guys typically hang out with each other?
Maggie and Christina: Yes.
Christina: Maggie is definitely my closest friend around here, especially this semester when all the first years are gone.
Maggie: We eat most meals together.
Christina: Last semester, we never got lunch together. It was sad.
Maggie: But this semester we can eat lunch everyday.
Isa: Do you think Yale is a great place to make friendships? Do you think Yale values friendship?
Maggie: It’s definitely on a person-to-person basis. But for me personally, yes. I think it’s really easy to make genuine connections with people here just because there’s so many people who are genuinely interested in getting to meet other people and it doesn’t feel superficial at all. I think in general, everybody that I’ve met has been really nice.
Christina: Yale has so many really cool people and most of the people here want to make friends so I think in that sense, it is good for making friends. Obviously I’ve seen people that have had more trouble. A big part of it is also the pandemic. I made zero friends in class because you either have your camera off or you’re only talking but you can’t have that experience of turning to the person next to you and just saying how lost you are, or just asking them a quick question, or complimenting them. It’s not as strong a connection as when you’re in person. I think in classes, Yale is not great for making friends in this semester at least.
Maggie: Some teachers … are a lot more inclined to want their students to become friends with each other and are putting an active effort for their students to get to know each other. In my music seminar class last semester, my professor would literally put us into breakout rooms at the beginning of every class just so we could get to know each other and he’d switch out the rooms everyday so that you have a chance to meet and talk to and become friends with everybody in the class.
Christina: I think that’s really nice. I haven’t had anyone do that, except maybe Ole [cello teacher].
Maggie: Smaller classes are easier to meet new people versus the 25 plus people ones.
Christina: That’s true. Although even if a class is small, I feel like you still don’t become as close to the people as you would in person. I felt like in class, I knew people and I was comfortable with them, but I didn’t actually walk out with any friends. Part of it is also that most of them were upperclassmen and they already had their friends and stuff. Compared to other schools, the fact that we have suitemates is amazing.
Isa: Where do you think you’re right now at your friendship?
Christina: Best friends.
Maggie: Yeah, Christina’s my best friend here right now.
Isa Dominguez | firstname.lastname@example.org