Dear Yaz,

Happy finals season! I hope you had a great first year at Yale. I’m finishing up my 13th and final year at Brearley. While I’ve been looking forward to starting so many new things in college for quite some time, it has recently hit me that there are many things I’ll never experience again. Soon, I’m not going to be able to invade the Classics department office during my frees. I won’t be able to hug my dog every day. I’ll miss going to cross country and track practice. But, there are also a few things I’m glad will be over. Hopefully, my Zoom days will be over soon and I won’t have to wear a mask for much longer.

In the interim period before college, I’ve taken out my anxious energy by making a lot of plans, even though I’m sure most of them will change once the school year actually starts. After pouring over Coursetable for what seemed like five hours, I made a spreadsheet planning out a bunch of courses for the next four years. I don’t even know if these courses are going to be offered in the future, but something about excessive planning makes me feel more in control. Do you actually end up taking intro Greek, Lucan, Mathematics of Language and Foundations in Education Studies this fall semester? I have no idea.

With help from a couple other prefrosh, I made a Yale Bucket list, or Yucket list. Highlights include: trying all the residential college swings, binding a book and meeting Handsome Dan. I’m sure the list is going to expand exponentially once I get to New Haven and discover all the fun activities to do there.

I think I’m going to major in Classics, but maybe you’ve changed your mind about that 5 times by now. I’ve heard that people tend to do that. Classics was very much my thing in high school, but maybe it’ll be something different in college. Who knows? I also want to pick up beekeeping. I’ve been a huge fan of collegiate beekeeping for a while now. I think half of my liked pages on Facebook are various colleges’ beekeeping clubs. I’m so curious to find out whether or not I will continue running. I kind of want to run a half marathon next spring (I just went on a 10-mile run this week), but I can also see myself picking up some random sport and getting really into it.

I’ve been very active meeting fellow prefrosh on Discord. We used to play Jackbox games every Saturday, and there was one time everyone changed their names to variants of Yaz Liow like Laz Yiow and Snaz Liow. By 1:00 a.m., Quiplash had devolved into Laz jokes. We decided to form a steadily-growing cult or not-so-secret society called The Laz. Cult members are known as Lazes. We just do wholesome stuff like say we’re going to “rise at dawn” and attack people who are mean to fellow Lazes. We’re also going to eat food in every residential college. I really hope that happens, because I love talking to them!

No matter how much I think about the upcoming year and no matter how many possible routes I can dream of, I know that I’m going to end up on one that I don’t expect. I suppose the best preparation for college would be to expect the unexpected, and to embrace the chaos that’s headed in my direction. Although I am a little bit nervous, I’m so excited for the next year, and can’t wait to know how things turn out!



Dear Almost-Sophomore Eesha,

From being mesmerized by Yale as I followed Rory Gilmore’s journey as an eighth grader, to beginning this journey myself, it’s definitely been a long road. High school was a transformative experience; I grew from a shy girl who was completely unsure of herself to someone filled with quiet confidence and a burning desire to change the world. I was also able to discover passions for so many things, from writing original music to researching educational policies. I’m sure that my first year at Yale will be all of that and more, with experiences beyond my wildest dreams which will shape me into who I want to be.

Like most Yalies, one of the first things that excites me when I think about life at Yale is all the academic and extracurricular opportunities I’m going to have (and being surrounded by people who don’t think that’s weird). Every time I open the Yale courses directory or extracurricular directory, I’m overwhelmed in the best way possible. I’m excited to see how my existing passions develop through new experiences – applying what I learnt in high school psychology to actual research with psychologists I idolize, for example. I’m also excited to discover myself by exploring areas I’ve had almost no previous experience with. One of the things that drew me to Yale was the endless possibilities to help me grow in unimaginable ways, and I can’t wait to see how these experiences shape me not only at the end of my Yale journey, but also after my freshman year!

I’m definitely daunted at the prospect of living alone in a new country for the first time. Hailing from the tropical subcontinent of India, I do have to admit that snow and I aren't on the most familiar terms. I’m terrified that even with the slightest breeze, I’ll feel too cold to leave my dorm room. In addition, Mumbai has also given me the greatest sense of home in so many places – the stationery store near my house, my favourite restaurant, even the route I take to school. Of course, this feeling is strengthened by my family and I’m terrified at the prospect of having to take care of myself. At the same time, I can’t wait to find a different kind of family at Yale. Every Yalie that I’ve spoken to so far radiates warmth and passion, and I’m incredibly excited to find my support system composed of people from all over the world with different experiences. I hope I’ll learn to be independent and grow with them. Who knows, maybe at the end of freshman year, I’ll even get used to the cold and become a professional snowball fighter! (snowballer? snow-thrower?)

The thing I’m most excited about is adding a new title to my identity – Yalie. This title is going to define me as I go through the most transformative years of my life, and for long after I graduate. Growing up, traditions have shaped the experiences I have with my family, from the way we celebrate festivals to cooking our favorite meals together every weekend. I’ll definitely miss these, but I’m really looking forward to making Yale’s traditions my own, through jamming to Spring Fling concerts with my friends, or planning out costumes for the YSO Halloween concerts. I also look forward to joining my residential college community. I have to admit, sports is the last thing anyone who knows me would expect me to be involved with, but what I lack in skill (and hand-eye coordination), I definitely make up for in passion, and I can’t wait to join intramural teams and compete for the residential college cup! Life at Yale is going to be very different from the one I know now. Dinners at Mumbai restaurants with my best friends will be replaced with brunches at the residential college dining halls and spending time with my favorite members of my family (my dogs) will manifest into freaking out every time I meet Handsome Dan. Life at Yale will be different to what it was, but difference is not always a bad thing.

Yale’s endless opportunities are what first drew me to it and what continues to make me incredibly excited about being there in the fall. However, this does mean that there are countless possibilities for the experiences that will shape me as a freshman, and there is no way of knowing who Eesha at the end of her freshman year is going to be. The only thing I know for sure is that I can’t wait to meet her!

With lots of excitement and love,

Prefrosh Eesha

Dear future Maya,

After the joyous disbelief from opening my acceptance letter faded away, a distinct thought formed in my mind: I am in way over my head. Over the past few weeks, this thought has persisted. No matter how real the situation became, the concept of me attending Yale seemed distant and unrealistic. I joined all the group chats, attended club meetings and met with dozens of other prefrosh. Yet, despite all my excitement, I still cannot envision it. Walking past Sterling Library. Hanging out with my suitemates. Participating in and studying for my classes. Being a Yale student.

I hope that you are laughing at me. To you, being a Yale student is probably as natural as breathing. Better yet, it simply is — an unquestionable, simple truth. Maybe it clicked the second you walked onto campus. You saw the students moving around you and immediately recognized that you were one of them — that you were a part of the community. Realistically, it was probably gradual. Learning and acclimating, you didn’t even realize the moment you had accepted your place as a part of Yale.

How much have you changed since you were me? Are your goals and passions the same as mine? Currently, I plan to study political science and literature. I want to read every single Shakespeare play (currently at 24)! I love theater and reading and am expanding my list of things I want to learn. It’s strange to think about all of this changing. Everything right now feels so permanent. Do you even have a list of things you want to learn anymore? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. As long as you found your place in groups of people who share your passions, I am satisfied. There, you did it! You fulfilled your dreams. I know that no matter what you have chosen to do and learn, Yale has provided you with ample opportunity to explore.

I am so excited to grow into the person that you have become. I am so excited to learn the things that you know. Despite my anxiety, I am eager to be you: a full-fledged member of the Yale community. As I write now, I am beginning to break through my mental block. I can almost picture it. Walking past Sterling Library. Hanging out with my suitemates. Participating in and studying for my classes. Being a Yale student.


You from the past

Dear Senior-Year Emma,

How was it? Was it everything you hoped it would be? Are you everything I hope you’ll be? As I anticipate the fall semester, I keep asking myself these questions. I hope that I have evolved to become my fourteen-year-old self’s admiration. With no uncertainty, I have failed to meet past Emma’s preconceived notions of the future. My trajectory reoriented many times. Objectively, I understand this is normal. Subjectively, however, I always believe my present goals act as the unyielding doctrine of my future.

We are both simultaneously entering another age in our lives. It’s tumultuous, isn’t it? I am beginning college and moving to New Haven, but the next four years remain undecided. I am passionate about environmentalism and conservation. I imagine myself working to mitigate food insecurity and climate-related disasters. I foresee myself pursuing a doctoral degree, or perhaps venturing into environmental law. But, I simply do not know what I will follow. I think back to when I similarly envisioned myself as a Renaissance historian, galavanting through the Palace of Whitehall as a profession. I still have a blazing interest in research, academia and the Tudors. If I compared myself to who I thought I would be, I am a failure. As I enter college, I will not hold you to a standard that may change. I hope you spend more time being the person you hoped, rather than wondering who that person would be.

You have always craved continuity, trying to justify your current state to your past expectations. You desire a seamless transition from one phase to another. Most of all, your aspiration to find contentment with your accomplishments leaves you feeling desperate. You seek approval from the one person who rarely gives it: yourself. You may have passions that I cannot envision –– ones that are so distant from what I enjoy now. Perhaps you have found joy in interests I would find disagreeable.

Whatever it is, I am proud of you. You are graduating from Yale, my dream university, with a degree in a topic you adore! You have triumphed through the rigorous academics, family tumult, challenging extracurriculars and side hustles. Regardless of how uncertain the future may seem, the past-you supports you infinitely. You may have expected me to ask more questions, but you do not need more people to answer to. You’re thriving past my frame of reference, not according to it. I will never speak to you again, but I will always listen. If you ever need anything, I’ll always welcome you with open ears.

With the greatest admiration,

Prefrosh Emma

Dear Axel,

As I write this letter, I know that the myriad of pre-frosh goals that are currently bubbling in my mind as I impatiently await the fall semester may not have come to fruition by the end of my first year... but I hope that at least a few have reached their destination. Is there an ostentatious row of book spines lining your shelf for your three Directed Studies classes? Were you able to write for the handful of the publications that caught your attention during Bulldog Days? And most importantly, were you able to endure your first true winter season and shed your Californian ways?

I hope that the answer to all of these questions is yes, but I wholeheartedly sympathize with you regardless of your choices (it’s actually slightly mind-numbing to directly address your future self — still not sure whether to treat this guy as a separate person or not). As it stands right now, from the eyes of a high school senior rapt with wonder, it seems like there are an endless amount of paths that can be followed at Yale, so you must have found one that suits you. In May of 2021, you were set on double majoring in the Humanities and Global Affairs, jogging the streets of New Haven with some fellow runners, becoming a staff writer for the YDN and exploring the city’s plethora of pizza dishes. How accurate or far-fetched do these seem to you now? I would be disappointed if the last one didn’t come true.

For some context, these thoughts emerged at the end of the pandemic, so they are largely the product of an impatient mind desperately seeking to throw itself into the vibrant Yale community as it devises ways to return to normalcy. If there’s one thing I hope for the most as you peruse this letter, it’s that you can sit back and reflect on how inconceivable this year seems now. Hopefully, you are enjoying memorable times with your friends, packed in lunch lines or public transport, and chilling in the main quad trying to reimagine what it must have been like to maintain physical separation from your peers. However, the pandemic certainly taught the entire world to expect anything — fingers crossed that this advice served you well in your first year.

Let’s hope that you feel freshman year sauntered slowly but surely by, and that it didn’t pass too quickly. I guess the speed of this year is within my control right now, when I think about it. I guess it’s only a matter of time until I’m the reader instead of the writer of this piece...


Axel from Spring 2021

To my future self,

Gazing out of my window, not knowing what to write, I realise it is because I don’t know exactly who I am writing to. But that’s the exciting part! If something goes drastically wrong, don’t worry — I’m sure one of your absurdly talented classmates will invent a time machine one day, so you can go back and fix everything. That being said, if the movies have taught us anything, it’s that time travel is pretty risky, so let’s get freshman year right the first time.

As I write this and anticipate the start of my first year, the excitement of arriving on campus and finally meeting my wonderful classmates blurs any concerns about college into a distant haze. There are worries I feel you should have, like being 3,000 miles away from home, adjusting to college classes or experiencing the horror that is communal bathrooms. Yet somehow these ideas float serenely in the back of my mind without causing any concern because the future seems nothing but delightful. Hopefully by the time I arrive on campus I’ll either be somewhat prepared or will just have to learn how to navigate Yale as I go.

Yale is all about learning and the first thing I hope you figured out is how to be a good roommate. Try and learn this one fast! Now aside from basic considerate behaviour, the most important thing is to know how to make your suitemates smile even when they’ve had a bad day. I imagine you’ll keep your suite permanently stocked with chocolate, so that should always help your suitemates on a bad day (and if they don’t like chocolate … well quite frankly, I’d be slightly scared, so let’s just keep our fingers crossed that doesn’t happen).

I hope that your suitemates and your friends become your family. Even though technically we’ll be adults when we arrive on campus, everyone will still be growing up and it’s something we’ll do together. As you look towards the future, remember that the people you admire most are not just accomplished –– they’re humble, generous and kind. Most importantly, they’re also great company. So make sure that in between all the hard work and late night study sessions, you always make time to share joy and laughter with friends.

Don’t worry about those twenty-minute study breaks that turn into two-hour adventures. Chances are you will have learnt just as much from your friends as you would’ve from your reading. Speaking of classes, I hope that they are about more than just grades. Take a class that you might be terrible at initially, but you’re so fascinated by the subject matter that you figure out a way to become good at it by the end of the semester. Please don’t do something crazy and take intro to organic chem after not taking science for two years. I can promise you that it would be anything but good.

Finding a balance is key in everything you do at Yale. Whatever you’re doing, it will always be about something beyond yourself so adopt that mentality right from the start. Instead of thinking how can I be smarter or run faster, try thinking how can I be a better classmate and teammate? The key to happiness at Yale is the community, and you’ve already met some pretty amazing people, so I think you’ll be just fine.

Good luck! (or should I say I hope everything has gone well?)

— Your prefrosh self


Don’t ever leave food out in an empty suite because a squirrel invasion is not on the freshman year bucket list.

Dear Andrew,

What’s up?

Even though I know that this coming year is going to be an absolute whirlwind of fun, I think that right now any excitement I would normally be experiencing is being eclipsed by an overwhelming sense of fear and moreover, an overwhelming sense of loss. Why didn’t anyone warn me that the weight of having to leave my family and friends would hit me like a freight train?

I think it’s interesting that the place that I have considered a prison for the past 17 years and have been so desperate to leave has suddenly felt like home to me more than ever. The things that I used to hate have become a blanket of comfort — from the beat up roads that empty completely after 7 p.m. to the dry hiking trails embellished with a border of yucca and cholla and prickly pear. More than that, they’re constant reminders of a stage of my life that I am preparing to leave behind forever in three short months. What I expected to be a time of celebration is tinged with notes of melancholy in a way that I never could’ve predicted.

When you’re reading this next year, I think you’re probably going to laugh at how stupid and mopey this sounds. “Andrew,” you’re going to think, “of course I had an amazing first year! You’re forgetting that no matter how you feel in the moment, this – leaving, Yale, college in general – is something that you’ve wanted for the longest time.” And as right as I know you are, it doesn’t make it any easier.

Enough about me. How are you? How are your roommate and suitemates? How is living in a CITY? Is it nice to actually get from point A to point B without having to hop in the car and drive for 20 minutes? How is being in a place that actually has other people? Does New Haven feel like a college town, or more like a big city? How’s the food been? How are your friends?

As you can see, I’m pretty anxious to catch up with you. However, I’m trying not to make the mistake of rushing through this year like I did with my senior year. In retrospect, I wish I had given myself more time to slow down and be in the moment and I hope you’re making the most of every day! I hope you’re doing well, and that you’re happy, and that you feel like you made the right choice coming to Yale and that you’ve found your community there. You deserve it.

With love,


Dear Future Chesed,

I debated whether or not to write this letter to you. I’ve written letters to us in the future before — easy ones with questions like “Who are your friends this school year?” and “Did you finally score a goal in soccer?” I wrote those letters at the beginning of every school year, vowing to not open the letter until the last day of school. I had the satisfaction of either accomplishing everything I hoped to, or discovering that my original concerns had redefined themselves (I never scored that goal, but I did win the most improved award on the soccer team).

This letter would be vastly different, though. Other people would read it. I had a million reasons to not write this. What do I have to say to myself that would hold enough importance to be read by others? Was it weird if I submitted the letter via my high school email address, adorned with an embarrassing Super Mario profile picture? What if writing this took time away from working on my final project for English?

It dawned on me: the English project. The assignment was to craft a scrapbook summarizing my high school experience. One of the required components was a mission statement, a sacred and unique vow each senior writes to themselves to map out who they are, what they care about and what they’ll accomplish. In an attempt to be poetic and wistful at the brink of my graduation, I vowed to “be enchanted by possibility and express vulnerability as I take advantage of every opportunity and shoot every shot.” I was the biggest hypocrite ever. I swore to “express vulnerability” and “shoot every shot,” and here I was trying to justify why this letter shouldn’t be written.

I could’ve orchestrated another petty excuse, like “I can live out my mission statement once I’ve actually started college.” I was tempted by that one, but my sacred vow would fizzle like a New Year’s resolution that never comes to fruition. Dad told me if I ever made a New Year’s resolution to start Dec. 1, that way I would be a month ahead and less likely to quit come Jan. 1.

So this is me, starting several months early. I never imagined Yale would happen to me, and I don’t want to start the next four years shying away from promises I made to myself. This is me expressing vulnerability and shooting every shot. Unlike the other letters I wrote to my future self that would be locked away for a year, I’ll come back to this one often; this is past me holding future me accountable to my mission statement, to all the risk-taking I swore upon.

I hope you experience the unexpected. I hope you make as many rash decisions as well-informed ones. Have the time of your life. I’ll see you soon.


Dear Future Me,


One year down... wow! I bet you’re reading this right now thinking, when did that happen?

Do you remember writing this? Sitting on the cold floor in the corner of your bathroom, scribbling down thoughts and realizing that in actuality, you have no idea what you want to say to your future self — your future self who is actually living out the dream you’ve worked so long for.

Hey Future Me, are you laughing right now? Tearing up? Shaking your head at Old Me’s naivete?

I hope you’re thinking, “Just wait — just wait a little longer, because you are close.”

You wrote this days before graduation, still feeling like Yale is just as far away as it was five years ago when you first looked at the website and made a decision.

Hey, Future Me: what does it feel like to be a student at Yale?

Does it feel different to pick up your backpack in the morning, knowing that you’ll be walking around an entire campus instead of simply roaming one old, downtrodden building? Does a storm coming in on a salty ocean breeze feel different than one that rolls off the dry plains? What’s outside your dorm room window?

Can you joke with a university professor as you can with a high school teacher? Do the floorboards of the University Theatre feel more hallowed than your high-school ones? Do your friends keep similarly bad sleep schedules as they do now? Does a steaming cup of tea deliver you the same warmth as it does now?

I try not to think too much about these things — about what life will be like over the next year. I know how easy it is to fall through the cracks between expectations and reality. But I can’t help letting some of these questions slip through.

What does one say to their future self? How can I express all the hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, inklings and musings I have now about the future — about who and how I will be — into one short letter?

I know I can’t. So, instead, let me lay out some of the wishes I have for you, Future Me.

I hope you haven’t forgotten all the hardships that got you where you are, nor the joys. I hope you’ve held onto the wonder you feel each morning when you step out the door. I hope your fingers haven’t forgotten how to make music, too busy with other things. Nor forgotten how to fill blank pages with stories. I hope you’ve kept a diary, so in another year you may look back on a pure account of the first year of the next stage of your life. I hope you’re happy.

As I write this, in two days I will receive a time capsule from four years ago with a veritable novella’s worth of writings from Old Me –– including a letter to Myself. I can’t help feeling like this is now a tradition — freezing a little piece of Me in time, ready for the next Me to remember.

So dear Future Me, keep up the tradition, won’t you?

Much love,

Annalie Sandor

Dear future me,

I hope we’ve made it this far. Isn’t it weird to think that you’re reading a letter from your past self? Ah, so exciting! It almost feels like time travel is real.

Right now, I’m starting to contemplate my life all over again. I find interest in so many different things that I want to become a master in everything. It’s why so many of the things I am doing right now may become overwhelming for you, but it’s also why Yale is your perfect fit. Yale has so many amazing clubs and activities and I want to join them all. I hope it all pays off and that despite being the indecisive person you are, you’ve found your ikigai.

In these past few months, so much has changed. The dreams I once had have now become unexpected realities. As grateful as I am, it’s almost scary how everything has happened so quickly. I got into my dream college, graduated top of my class and finally made my parents proud. Soon, I’m going to be leaving my family and the friends I grew up with to live all alone in another state, hours away from home. Remember that this is only the beginning.

You’re a small girl in a big world, but I hope you never underestimate the power you have to bring about change. Whatever happens, I hope you never forget your roots. Mom and Dad came here with a vision. Thank them for everything they have sacrificed for you. Reach back out to all of your teachers from elementary to high school and tell them how much you appreciate them. They are what allowed you to become who you are today. Most importantly, hold fast to your deen and trust the process.

Life may not turn out how you expected, but remember that everything in your life has had, and will have, a purpose. You will go through many ups and downs but you will also learn, grow and hopefully become a better version of yourself. I hope that you’ve met some great people at Yale and that you’ve made amazing connections to help you navigate yourself through this crazy world.

It all makes sense now, why things happened the way they did — all for this one moment. For now, I want you to take a deep breath and just soak it all in.

With love,


Dear Aly,

I hope by the end of your first year, you are better — literally. I hope you’re reading this letter in a courtyard, surrounded by blossoming, sweet flowers. I hope you are protected by the New Haven sun, even if it’s not shining so bright. I hope you are glancing over your empty room after you’ve packed everything for the summer. And if you're crying, I hope your tears are expressing a different type of emotion — better emotions.

I want you to remember the first time you saw the campus … in real life, not virtually. To remember how in awe you were of the grandesque beauty and architecture, all to utter the word “home” underneath your breath. I want you to revisit how your bubbling excitement beat your anxiety, how the smile from your face never faded. I know your jaw was tired for many days.

I am jealous of what you’ll experience with your roomies and resco. Although JE and Silliman are sexy, I know you would be happy anywhere (except Branford). Your roomies are going to love your realist attitude and your “go big or go home” aura. You might have left Texas, but it didn’t leave you. A southern boy in the northeast, a dream come true. An even bigger dream will come true when you live it up in New York. Those weekend excursions will be moments you wish had lasted longer.

And if no one will say it, I will! I am proud of you, honestly. Your growth, as a poet and as a person, is breathtaking, and I’m sure that you are tearing apart this letter for its cringe and “quirkiness.” I know you have grown more into who you are. You are the poet I knew you always could be. Speaking of poetry, did you get into that one class? If you didn’t, I hope you have figured out the classes you want to take for the next couple of years. And I know for sure that you didn’t decide on a major. Remember, when in doubt, DO NOT choose econ <3.

Also, you better not be in the library all the time! You better be at many performance poetry nights, getting to know community members or even just living! You deserve to play for all your hard work.

This term of your life will act as a period of firsts for you. Your first time far away from Texas. Your first time finding a true home. Your first time doing things your way. Your first time not being afraid anymore. Your first time being you.

And maybe I got it all wrong. And maybe your first year was nothing like this. Maybe there was no courtyard or flowers. Maybe it’s not better. But, nonetheless, I hope — and will keep hoping — that you finally found home.

One year down, three more to go — make them yours.


Aly, the angsty prefrosh

Dear Future Ananya,

Are people still playing Among Us? Sorry sorry, I know we’ve probably had a life-changing year, but right now, this is all I can think about. I’m hoping the world has moved on to better games by now. Maybe Settlers of Catan or even Monopoly (the electronic banking version though, you know, since we can furtively add a few million dollars to our credit card). I’m especially hoping Among Us goes out of style, since I’m genuinely the most atrocious imposter. (Sincerest apologies to all my fellow second imposters for not being a pathological liar.)

I have SO many questions.

What happened to that meticulous Excel sheet you made scheduling all your classes for the next four years? Is it in some recycling bin now? Cause I wouldn’t be surprised. Oh, and if you even attended one of those 9 a.m. classes: I’m so proud of you. Is our roommate in love with Maggi yet? I hope for our friendship’s sake they are.

Yale students are brilliant. So naturally, you need to live up to that standard. I’m trying to picture everything you’d have done this last year at New Haven. Here are my predictions:

You ran 100 metres in 4 seconds at PWG’s track balcony (Usain Bolt who?). You developed an app after taking CS100 that’s worth more than Facebook, Instagram and Netflix combined. You scored the winning touchdown at the Game. New dinosaur species showcased at Peabody were named after you. You not only joined, but are now the first first-year leader of Skull and Bones. You finished one-hour midterms in 59 minutes. You didn’t study abroad, people abroad studied you. Handsome Dan high-fived you — he’s a good boy. You took 36 credits worth of classes in one semester. You graduated. Okay, maybe not.

Pepe and Sally learn how to make a pizza from you now. Obama, Biden and AOC all came to watch you debate. Trump came to learn debate etiquette. Orwell rose from his grave to commend your insightful political pieces in the YDN. You wrote, directed, produced and starred in a one-woman play at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Broadway called shortly after, but you put them on hold; you were Zooming Nolan and Spielberg and taking another call would have been rude.

You tried tofu.

You did not like tofu. It’s so jiggly.

You also franchised your Residential College’s Buttery, and now McDonald’s is bankrupt. Their locations globally started shutting down. Oops. And hopefully, you became better at writing humorous pieces.

But hey, even if you haven’t done all or, let’s be honest, any of these things, it’s okay. Be proud of yourself. Because ultimately, if you’re reading this in 2022, you’ve accomplished something millions can only dream about: you’ve spent a year studying at YALE.

Yours truly,

First-year Ananya

Dear Future Kayla,

Currently, I am heating pizza over a bonfire while wearing a prom dress!

Close your eyes and travel back to this moment: 3 hours of dancing in heels, filming TikToks at Sherwood Gardens, eating soggy Chick-fil-A nuggets, praying the cicadas stay in the ground a little longer — okay, I think you are in the proper headspace now.

As the last week of school approaches, the inevitable end to “childhood” is breathing down my neck (no longer simply a looming threat!). Never has the domino effect been so prevalent; one teacher starts crying, then another, then my eyes start watering. I have discovered that senioritis is not a form of apathy, rather it is feeling more anxious about the future than the present. We are growing up! Anyway, I’ll be optimistic and assume that you are laughing at my fear because it is buried in the past. Kayla, how are you doing? How colorful is the sky? Are you happy?

From your home in Baltimore, I have created a bucket list for you:

  1. Travel to New York for a Broadway show!
  2. Go out somewhere with Jordan, have fun!
  3. Pick your stance: Sally’s or Pepe’s?
  4. Work on the Yale Farm
  5. Hangout at the Buttery
  6. Make at least one friend from every residential college (this might be hard)
  7. Learn how to cook Chinese food
  8. Find a Middle Eastern restaurant
  9. Sunrise hikes!
  10. Meet up with the Yalies you have DMed/FaceTimed

Do you still talk to the friends you met online? On Wednesday, I FaceTimed a girl from California, and she was lovely (so bubbly and friendly!) — shoutout to Paola if she reads this. It was a pleasant surprise to bond over Juanes. “Es Por Ti” has been on repeat for days ever since Profe played it for Juanes Viernes. We gushed over our amazing Spanish teachers. If you no longer talk to those wonderful people, check in! Maybe you could borrow the check-in question your biology teacher recently used: “If you were a potato, how would you want to be cooked?” Personally, I would be roasted in garlic butter.

Even if you faded from them, I hope that you found a new friend group. Did you find someone to crochet clothes with on the weekends? Maybe a nice yarn shop? Walmart is my current favorite, but I’ve heard New Haven has a small shop. Do your friends like Kali Uchis or Giveon (most important question on the housing form)? It is time to evolve from an ambivert to an extrovert!

Though I am a bit scared to ask, I must know, did you keep in touch with your high school friends? Noureen wants to schedule weekly video chats (sadly no more “car ramen”). I hope you find someone else to have deep conversations with while eating beef udon soup –– that someone would make Yale feel like home. Seriously, I cannot believe that this home is now just a place you visit. Still, I hope you are happier sharing a room with a stranger than sharing one with your twin brother!

So, here you are, a twinless twin. How does it feel? Gone are the days of scrambling onto school buses together and meeting after school. Granted, this past year has been completely virtual. It has proved challenging to bond over Google Meet when everyone looks like colorful dots! At least in “Colophon” I can see Becky and Onion Man. Speaking of which, we are about to publish “Paper Moon.” Your poem, “Periodical Cicadas,” has your signature angsty, existentialist touch — I hope you can laugh at these cheesy poems one day. Growing up is fun. (I think?)

For now, you can laugh at this word search I have created for you! Have fun guessing the words...

For When You Miss Home

No tears! Also, I just quit my job after almost two years at Red Robin! You better have a job at Yale because that yarn won’t pay for itself...

I don’t want to keep you too long (go study!), so I’ll end with these slightly cliché, inspirational words. Even if you no longer believe the extremely sentimental statements you wrote, I wanted to share a couple stanzas from your graduation speech. Though it feels surreal to already contemplate the end, I hope this can serve as a reminder of the hope you once had for the future, even if it was a bit idealistic. You are so “swag!”

To growth and knowledge,
To work, trade, military, or college,
Oh, the people you’ll be, dream to the stars!
Oh, the incredible humans that you already are!

How lucky we are to have found one another
To find faith in ourselves, and faith in each other.
To stumble in with shadows for voices, wallflowers to roses,
and exit with poise, ready to brave what approaches.

As we enter this next stage awkward and frazzled:
A world to be travelled, a life to be rattled and dazzled
A future to uncover, on this journey you’ll discover
I am here for you; we are here for each other.

Wherever you are and whenever you need me, I hope this letter can be your paper moon.

From your home in Baltimore, Maryland, I send you my love.

Best wishes,

Past Kayla

Post-Freshman Year Ivana,

As you write this, in May 2021, you’ve successfully managed to go four days straight without doing anything. It’s alright, though, because your gap year is finally coming to an end and you’re headed for the greatest institution on Earth! (Not Harvard, because they rejected you.)

Yale! Wow. I bet that geography teacher from 9th grade who thought you were too stupid to take AP World History is really kicking himself right now. I hope you use all the weirdly pent-up resentment you have from that to propel yourself forward to success. To measure this, I have a few questions:

  1. Is Yale really the “Gay Ivy”? I once read a ‘24 tweet not to drink Yale’s water because it will turn you gay. Many people have commented on your “bisexual energy,” so I really gotta know — how does the water taste in New Haven? Maybe you’ll discover something moving out of your traditional childhood home.
  2. Why does that one secret society have such a high water bill? You heard about it when you visited Yale for the first time — the building with no windows that uses up a suspicious amount of H2O. What’s the reason? Is it a waterpark? A torture device? I need to know.
  3. Did you change your major because Econ kicked your ass? The last Economics class you “took” was online a year and a half ago using Quizlet in the Chorus practice room. If you want to major in Ethics, Politics, and ECONOMICS, that’s gonna be tough. Although, you’re also considering Statistics and Data Science (even though you were in remedial math classes in elementary school), CogNeuro (see last note), or Global Affairs, so I guess there’s still hope.
  4. What happened with that one Yale guy? You know, the one who thinks he’s Jon Ossoff. You were lucky enough to meet lots of Yalies during your gap year, and I would love to know how your relationships have changed since then. Especially with him, because your first taste of college boys has been confusing as hell.
  5. How many times did you cry? Moving to college must really stir those hormones up. Whether it was because your dorm didn’t turn out like your Pinterest board or because you miss your mom and sister, how much did university break you down? I’m banking on the fact that the year stayed pretty normal when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions, so I hope there was no crying over that. After all, you did take a whole year off to avoid COVID-19-era move-in.

No matter what the answers are, I hope most of all that you are thriving in a new environment away from the yee-yee South — even if cold weather slowly but surely sucks all of the happiness out of you.


Pre-Freshman Year Ivana