Opening Snapchat and Instagram and seeing all the stories of everyone sending each other off at the airport/people settling into their new unis has been making me feel so reflective. It’s weird to me that people are just starting and I’ve already been at Yale for a month (it’s also weird that I’ve ONLY been here for a month; it feels like years). I hope this post doesn’t come off as me saying ‘been there done that’ or anything of the sort–I just wanted to give some sort of reassurance to people who are intimidated by the start of a brand new uni, that while everything is new and strange and terrifying in the beginning, it gets way better.
I downplayed how hard it was for me in the beginning. My FOOT leaders had told us about how fun Camp Yale would be, what with all the crazy frat parties and Toads (a dance club) and general lit-ness. I came into Yale with high expectations for the first few days, thinking I’d be meeting hundreds of new people and that I’d be going out every night with a new crowd making friends 24/7. Needless to say, it wasn’t anything like that. I remember being alone in my room on my 18th birthday, suffering from serious FOMO because I thought everyone was out partying. Only later after talking to a bunch of other people did I realize that most people were in my position–staying in and feeling bad because they thought everyone else was out, while everyone else was not, in fact, out.
I also came into uni with the ridiculous expectation that I’d be instant besties with my suitemates–that we’d click right from day one and spend all our time together and talk and laugh like we’d known each other for years. Again, I can’t emphasize how ridiculous I was being. My roommate and I are really tight now but we were basically strangers for the first few days, and that’s OKAY–it’s normal; it just needs to be given time.
Me-from-a-month-ago was desperate to find my people and settle into a sitcom-like friend group. I wanted the inside jokes and banter and endless laughs and familiarity. And I was panicking because I hadn’t found that within the first three days. It’s now been a month, and I wish I could tell my month-ago self that I have found that. I can barge into the suite below mine when it’s 12am and I’m feeling overwhelmed by the hundreds of pages of reading I haven’t done, and we can all lie on the floor feeling sorry for ourselves together. I can stay up late with my friends talking about topics ranging from shiba inus to spongebob to microaggressions and free speech. I’ve also been to a few frat parties with said group and it’s chill. And even if I don’t feel up for going out some nights, it’s still fun because they’ll come back and hang out in my suite and I get to watch drunk people make fools of themselves and arguably that’s even better than getting drunk yourself.
To anyone who’s starting uni (shoutout to Vic who’s leaving for Durham in a day), this is advice from my dad on the car ride from Boston to Yale: make as many friends as possible in the first 30 days, because in the beginning literally everyone wants to make friends, but after 30 days people start settling into their own friend groups and that window of opportunity is gone. Get out of your comfort zone and knock on someone’s door or sit next to someone new in the dining hall or introduce yourself to that group of people standing over there. It may be hard but EVERYONE is open to meeting more people because EVERYONE (or all the freshmen at least) is in your boat. No-one’s going to laugh at you or be weirded out–if anything, they’ll be grateful you made the first move. We’re all daunted by the prospect of starting afresh and not knowing anyone. Eventually, you will find a group of people you click with, so don’t worry and give it time.