You know that cheesy quote about letting go of the things you love? Being home for the last two months has made me realize that’s how I feel about Yale, as sappy as it may sound. Back in October, when I completed my study abroad application, I couldn’t wait to leave Yale. My semester felt overwhelming and I just wanted a pause, a chance to experience new places and meet new people, even though every semester since my first I’ve made new friends. But one of the best things about being back home has been reconnecting with the friends and communities I’ve grown to love so much. I hadn’t realized how much I missed my friends, campus life, and, oddly enough, classes! As I reminisce about the last three years, particularly my first, I want to share some experiences and things I’ve done that made my first year great and might help make yours even greater.

I remember my first day of college. As soon as I got to my room and met some of my suitemates, I realized I had brought WAY too many things — clothes, medicine, unnecessary tupperware — you name it, and I had probably packed it. I try not to regret anything I do in life, but every year’s move-in makes me (only slightly) regret my overpacking tendencies. So my first piece of advice for not having to make so many trips up and down the stairs (unless like me, you’re lucky enough to live in the only building on Old Campus with an elevator), is to only pack what you need. This will make move-in day so much easier!

My first night was really fun because some of my suitemates and I went out together. One of the best things I did during Camp Yale was spend time getting to know the people I’d be living with for the next eight months. In those first 10 days we got food, bluebooked together, explored campus, played games and just tried to learn more about each other. And I’m glad we did, because I’ve roomed with the same people (plus some other friends) every year since. And while rooming experiences aren’t the same for everyone, I’m glad my suitemates and I really put in the effort at the beginning (and I’m even more glad it worked out), because now we have formed a tiny vibrant community of our own. Part of making first year great is to really find a group of people you can always laugh with and get Junzi with late at night. People who will support you and always ask how your day went — it will really make adjusting to every new thing about college easier. And even though you might not be the best of friends or live together again, I really encourage you to get to know your suitemates, because you might just be surprised at how well you can get along with a random group of strangers.

But as time has passed, I’ve learned that the best part of going to a school like Yale is the opportunity to form and become part of multiple communities, each comforting in their own way. Besides my suitemates, I was really glad to take part of the Latinx community at La Casa by working there. Cultural centers can be the perfect place to attend fun events, do work, study (there are so many comfy rooms in each of them), or just hang out with friends. And the best part is that they’re open to the entire Yale community and they’re always bustling with life. Joining clubs, getting involved with different projects, exploring New Haven (please do this!), and actually getting lunch with people (you’ll find making lunch plans that never happen is a thing at Yale) were crucial for just keeping my sanity, making first year fun, and making Yale feel like home.

First year is the perfect opportunity to try new things and put yourself out there, do things you’ve always wanted to do or never could have imagined. But even so, overextending yourself in your first year can happen very easily, so keep in mind that you have three more years. I found myself producing a musical for the first time in my life just last semester, and I’d never done theater at Yale before, so really anything can happen. Just try to do things at your own pace, there’s no rush, and make sure to prioritize the activities and people that make you happy. Last thing: remind yourself that while academics are important, you’re also trying to make the most of “the best four years of your life (so far),” and when you do, you will find most of that happens outside the classroom.


Gianna Baez |