A day in my life at Yale: pre-COVID edition (part I)

It’s been over a year since that fateful week in March 2020 when, day by day, the world seemed to shut down. The timing sticks out to me because Yale had just let us go for Spring Break. I remember reading the news in my childhood bedroom, slowly realizing that I’d be spending a lot more time there for the foreseeable future. The goodbyes I had said the Friday before, the last day of school before everyone parted for what we thought would be two short weeks, suddenly felt painfully insufficient.

In this two-part series, I want to engage in a bit of time travel. In this first post, I’ll take you through a “day in my life” on that last Friday, the last “pre-COVID” day that I had at Yale, to show what an in-person experience looks like in anticipation of a brighter future. And in a part two, I’ll talk about a day in my life now and reflect on what has changed or stayed the same.

9:30 AM: Wake up & get ready. #Throwback to when we still got ready for class…

10:00 AM: Starbucks. One of the perks of JE (Jonathan Edwards College, my residential college) was that it was super close to Starbucks. My friends and I used to go there all the time to fuel ourselves with liquid motivation before tackling essays, exams, and homework—in hindsight, that habit was actually kind of a bad thing for my wallet. Either way, on this morning, I felt like treating myself in anticipation of break.

Random photo of Yale from this year because I miss walking to class.

10:10 AM: Walk to class. Earbuds in (I think at this point last semester I was having a bit of an Ari Lennox moment because she had just been announced as a performer for Spring Fling, an annual free concert that happens right on Old Campus), I started the trek up Science Hill to my first class. I remember this walk clearly because I ran into my friends Max and Niyati, who were on their way down after finishing their Orgo class.

Spring Fling 2019… RIP Spring Fling 2020 and my Ari Lennox dreams.

10:30 AM: Biology of Reproduction lecture. On this day, we learned about the effects of obesity on reproduction.

11:20 AM: Lunch break. I met up with my friend Selma for lunch at YSB, the newest science building on campus, complete with the fancy Steep Cafe that sells everything your bougie heart could desire: espresso drinks, smoothies, pastries, food truck-style grilled cheese, open-faced lox sandwiches, snacks, kombucha… can you tell I’m missing it right now?


12:30 PM: Physics lab. We were studying electromagnetic induction, with an additional section at the end where we looked at our EKGs to visualize the electrical circuit of our body.

Example lab setup from Physics. This was from a different week, where we used an Operation-like system to study circuits. 

3:30 PM: Out of lab! I dashed to Silliman, where I was meeting with board members of Negative Space, an Asian American oral history project I help run on campus. Each spring semester, Negative Space has a tradition of hosting a gallery exhibition of interviews we conduct in the fall. In the past, it had been held in a small room in the AACC (Asian American Cultural Center). This year, we were excited because we had booked Maya’s Room, a larger gallery space in Silliman. The goal for our meeting was to plan out the layout of our exhibition. Everything was coming together, and we were really excited.

A past Negative Space gallery.

6:30 PM: Niyati (who also happens to be my suitemate) met up with our friends Katherine and Nithy for a farewell dinner before Spring Break. We used the food ordering app Snackpass to get food from Tikkaway, a “build-your-own” Indian restaurant near campus. The meal was amazing, but the conversation, which lasted for several hours, was even better. I no longer remember the specifics of what we talked about that night, but I clearly remember feeling healed, decompressed, and uplifted at the end of it. A great way to go out, even if we had no idea how long it would be until we saw each other again.

11:00 PM: Last minute packing. I remember needing Niyati’s help deciding between two shirts. Little did I know, I would be relying on that shirt for the next few months when I, like everyone else, became stuck at home, away from everything I left behind in my dorm at Yale.

The next day, I took the Metro North to New York City to fly out of JFK. My suitemate is from Queens, so I spent a few hours before my flight exploring. It’s crazy for me to think about that now, because of how things took such a dramatic turn for the worse just a few days after.

Momos from Lhasa Fast Food, a restaurant in Jackson Heights!

There’s a lot I miss about in-person Yale. In an immeasurable number of ways, things are completely different now. But there’s also a lot that I haven’t had to miss, simply because they’ve endured despite COVID. In my next post, I’ll talk about this more.