As the summer inches towards August, I’ve been doing my fair share of thinking about senior year and reflecting on the last three. I am overly sentimental about how quickly time goes by: Yale has been magical but short, a whirlwind that passes sometimes too quickly for proper appreciation. For this post, I wanted to share a couple of moments and experiences sprinkled throughout the years that by no means makes up my Yale experience but are each important on its own.
First is my history of art seminar titled “Art & Revolution in the Modern Middle East.” The 18-person class is situated in Loria, the building with an arts library that sits next to the Architecture School. In my mind, Loria is always a cheerful bright orange, the color of Haas Arts Library’s carpet. Over time, these places have become spaces unique to me. Freshman spring, I took my first college history class in a cozy lecture room on Loria’s third floor. The class, “A History of South Africa,” changed the way I view history. The professor, eloquent and articulate, made us tear up at the last lecture.
Back to art history, having spent a couple of weeks in Israel and Palestine studying the conflict, I was intrigued. After reading the syllabus, shopping period gave me the chance to participate in person, and I loved it. Despite understanding only half of the references to art movements and theories, I knew from the way the professor discussed the material that I wanted to dive in and learn more.
Having taken an amazing photography class, I thought I would have some grounding when it comes to the intersection of visual media and geopolitics. Soon, in the midst of a heated discussion on surrealism in Italy and Egypt, I found myself in uncharted territory.
It is precisely this challenge of catching up to speed with art history and area studies majors that made the seminar one of the most rewarding learning experiences I’ve had yet. Never before have I spent an hour staring intensely into an abstract expressionism painting at the Yale University Art Gallery. Since it was uncharted territory, I had the freedom and levity to experiment. Approaching the term paper, I could make mistakes and not settle for mediocrity. Who knows when I will take my next art history class, but this seminar has been a gem.
Second, butteries. By answering questions like “what utensil represents you?” and “can you push a button on a microwave,” you could become a buttery worker. Butteries are amazing late-night snack places located under each residential college. Over time, more and more of my friends have joined the talented ranks working the buttery each night, making amazing buffalo chicken quesadillas.
More than just a late-night eatery, butteries have become socializing spots that hosts a range of characters, from people jamming to music and chatting to folks working on a project. I remember my first year at Yale, when we all lived on Old Campus, my suite would rile up our neighbors up and down the entryway in Bingham Hall to trek over to the buttery in Hopper. It was an adventure, every single time.
Since then, I’ve attended open mics and various study breaks in our buttery. Now that I can just walk downstairs, there’s no reason not to drop by the buttery for a bit on a given day, especially when my friends are there. It’s become home, and the buttery is a college-sized living room to catch up with people after a long day.
Finally, deep conversations in unexpected places. Much that colors my Yale experience has been the conversations. The really meaningful ones can never be planned for. Whether it’s in the middle of a courtyard under a full moon or on a stroll after a spring storm, these conversations don’t relay their importance until long afterwards. What makes the time spent at Yale magical, in part, is what my friend’s favorite word hints at: serendipity.