So I’m here. It’s unreal.
Sorry it’s taken me so long. September is a crazy month. I came during the last week of August for the preorientation program for international students (as a Canadian, I am considered international, which I think is a good thing). I made friends with interesting people from literally the world over. Actually. Like brazil, pakistan, and singapore all at the same time. And there was much ice cream. It was still quite hot that last week of August.
Then the American students descended. By that point, we internationals had become rather accustomed to having Old Campus (the heart of Yale College, the undergraduate section of the University, where all the freshman stay) to ourselves. Frosh week was… pretty cool. There were points of interest everywhere and always. Concerts every night, professors and upperclassmen seeking to share information everywhere we looked. A bit overwhelming, but for the fact that it was too much fun to stop and realise it was so.
Eventually classes began, after almost two weeks, in my case, of orientation. Which was cool, but I was definitely ready, after so much preparation time, to jump right in and get started. Over the summer, I was accepted into a special freshman academic program called Directed Studies, where we read the central texts of the Western tradition, across time and place, engage in their voice through lecture and their analysis and close examination in section, which are like smaller seminar classes. There are three classes: Literature, Philosophy, and Historical and Political Thought, and the interplay between these disciplines is great. We began with the Iliad in Lit, Plato’s Euthyphro in Philo, and Herodotus’ The Histories in HP, which was our reading over the summer. We moved on to the Odyssey, Plato’s Symposium, Phaedo, and now the Republic, and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, in each class, respectively. Needless to say it is alot of reading. I love it. It is a lot of time to commit though. But as far as I’m concerned, this is an education worth everything.
My fourth class is a beginning Latin class. I’ve always wanted to take Latin, and now I am! I’m planning to use my acceleration credit from AP exam scores starting in sophomore year. It is flexible here. The system is made in such a way to make it pretty easy for me to fix my education as I like it. Which is empowering. Really, there is little Yale does not enable us to do to further ourselves as students and citizens and people. I guess it can though, in that way, so it does.
Aside from class, life is happening. I quite honestly do not know where to begin. But begin I must; so I shall!
The first weekend after classes was filled with auditions for theatre. I auditioned for something like eight different productions, all fully student-driven. I’d say there are easily more than twenty such shows every semester; and that is just in the undergraduate theatre scene. Yale is renowned for its Graduate School of Drama, and I’m hoping to catch as many professional shows as possible. Maybe if I have time I’ll catch the first production next weekend.
So I ended up getting casted in two different shows, both being quite different from what I’m used to. The first is Yale Children’s Theatre, which is theatre + community service. We are producing Pinocchio this semester, and every week there are also different theatre workshops we run for children in the New Haven community. I’m doing one on Saturday mornings called Hands On, where 8-11 year-olds come in and we do different games and acitivites around a different theme, like body movement and voice, and by the end of the program, they will have put together a piece of theatre to show to their parents! It’s really quite cool.
The other show I’m in is called Diva Daughters’ Dupree, and it is with the Yale Heritage Theatre Company. It is comedic, but also very issues-driven, as it explores racism and cultural identity in modern America. It’s cool stuff.
The other theatre-related thing I’m doing (which is very cool) is that I got into the Control Group, which is the experimental theatre group on campus. We do things like street theatre, lots of live music and dance, and other areas of theatre not often explored. Our first rehearsal was an early morning picnic to the beach – in character. It was very fun. Luckily we resumed ourselves once we fell upon the vegan chocolate cupcakes. The water here, too, is warm. In my mind I’m comparing it to Willows Beach. br.
Music! Here at Yale, there is a huge tradition of a capella. There are probably 12 or so registered groups on campus, and a few other ones not registered under the singing group council. There were two big concerts near the beginning of the year, one during freshman orientation, and the other to kick off Rush – which is the near-month-long process of auditions, rush meals (scheduled meals with members of the groups the rushees rush), singing desserts (full length concerts for each group), and callbacks, all culminating in one glorious night: Tap Night. On Tap Night, the two senior groups sing, and then a broom is dropped (a curious tradition) at which point all the groups pour onto Old Campus through the west gate and run to the different halls to go “tap” the freshman they want in their groups. I was so excited to get tapped into the Yale Alley Cats (check out our website, www.yalealleycats.com – an amazing group of people and musicians. There are about 16 of us in total now, I believe, and this weekend we are going off campus to the family farm of one of the members on Rhode Island, where we will have our post-Rush retreat – we’ll learn alot of music, eat good food, hang out, play outside, and generally have a good time (somewhere in there, for me, will be reading more Plato and finishing the Odyssey). I’m so excited!
The Alley Cats travel all over the world. We have gigs all year so we can fund our own tours. This year, we will go to Southern California in the wintertime – so perfect – Germany and Switzerland in the Spring, and Hawai’i, East Asia and South-east Asia in the Summer. Very cool. It’s pretty unbelievably perfect: music, seeing the world, and being in an incredibly tight group of people.
I’ve also been accepted into a brand new 4-year leadership development program that has started at Yale. It has been developed by two upperclassmen, and my year is the first year of the program. It focuses on building existing skills, developing new ones, and has a real concentration on collaboration and learning from each other. The inaugural meeting is tomorrow, and I can’t wait. It’s going to be such a cool thing to have being an underlying tone to my entire undergraduate experience at Yale.
Such a cool thing I’m doing is working on the Yale Farm. Yes, Yale has a Farm. It is not just any farm, however. It is a student run, sustainable organic farm. It even supplies Yale’s dining halls with fresh seasonal produce. That’s right, Yale Dining Services is its own entity – not owned and operated by some gluttonous multi-national dining services provider, which make it a lot more difficult to affect changes like this. Which I love. I’m a foodie, and the food here really is amazing. I’m impressed. Maybe in my next blog I’ll tell you what I had for dinner.
So this is long, I’m realising. I want to do this justice for you. I hope it’s not boring or self-absorbed. I want to share as much of my experience here as I can, so I hope you take this all for what it is! I think I’ll stop here, but I promise to post again soon.
I’ve also posted a few pictures of campus. Check it out.