With graduation now a few months behind me and my newfound status as a Yale ~alumnus~, I can’t stop thinking about April and May of 2021. They were some of the most memorable, fun, and meaningful days of my life. And so much of it surrounded the festivities and the fun, the parties and the goodbyes, the pomps and the circumstances of Grad Week at Yale.
Grad Week is exactly what it sounds like—a fun-filled, nostalgia-fueled, marathonic sprint to graduation following everyone’s final final exams. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Even this year, because of a combination of the stellar efforts of administrators, Senior Class Council, and grass-roots student groups, Grad Week was still something magical. In fact, my friends and I agreed that it was probably the best week of our entire Yale career. Here are some of the highlights of Grad Week 2021, as well as a look into how some of our classic traditions were reimagined in this most interesting year!
Every year during Grad Week, there are tons of parties, and everyone’s invited. It’s supposed to be a time for you to solidify friendships, to tie up loose ends, to finally say hi to that cute person from your club, or to even meet someone new. With wonderfully warm weather and relaxed social-distancing measures, we were able to have some semblance of normal in our final days! Spring in New Haven. Good music. Better people. What more could you want? (The only acceptable answer here, I’ve learned, is a dunk tank. One celebration I attended had a dunk tank. And it was insane.)
Peep the dunk tank!
This was easily one of the most delicious meals Yale Dining has made for us. Upon first entering Yale, all first years are treated to a gourmet dinner in the dining hall. There are toasts and speeches by students and the residential college Head and Dean. Then, four years later, our Yale careers are bookended with seniors-only dinner at the end of the spring semester. This year the dinners were held outside in each of the residential colleges’ beautiful courtyards, and the menu included everything from lobster rolls to beet salads to prime rib mini burgers. It was delicious—one of the best meals Yale Dining’s ever prepared for us hands down. Just looking around and seeing all of my friends from Stiles—all of my fellow moose—all gathered together in the Stiles courtyard to share a fantastic meal and cheers to graduating in this most interesting of years was a truly meaningful way to end our senior year.
It’s unclear to me when or why this unofficial student tradition started, but towards the end of Senior Week a large number of seniors make their ways down to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina to hang out by the beach, dance to some summer tunes, and spend some time together in a new location right before graduation. Because senior week was a bit shorter this year, students decided to push this tradition to after graduation. But it still happened and was a really wonderful way to all be together again, once more. Seeing soooo many Yalies together in one place other than Yale (or New York lol) was a little strange at first—it was almost like we were in a new, coastal campus for the week—but more so, I think it’s a testament to how much Yalies love each other. Students flew, trained, drove and walked (okay, no one walked, but the gesture is still there!) across the country just to spend a few more days together, because we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.