The first time I read about “suites” and “Residential Colleges”, the information flew over my head. The majority of universities in my region have the typical straight hallway of dorms. What other way was there to arrange a collection of rooms? Was it so important for me to actually consider the structure of the housing system in my college decision?
For the first year, Yale groups around 4-8 freshman together in a large unit called a “suite” containing a common room, bathroom, and combinations of single and double bedrooms. Students have the liberty of decorating the suite and can also choose suitemates after their freshman year.
Honestly, the suite system rocks! I have been housed with 6 other amazing freshmen who apart from having overlapping academic interests in science also happen to all play musical instruments! Between the 7 of us, we cover jazz and classical piano, trombone, guitar, trumpet, the Saw U (the Thai traditional fiddle), percussion, a cappella and electronic synthesizer. Our common room houses a full keyboard plus amp and it is where all of the jamming happens on a Friday night. (Stay tuned for an actual recording in my next blog!)
- My suitemates (L to R): Brendan, Cameron, William, Mark, Aaron and Ethan -
All 7 of us are also in Morse College, one of the 12 Residential Colleges at Yale (the best one). Undergraduate life at Yale revolves around the Residential Colleges: we eat in the Morse Dining Hall (Morse has the best dining hall too… brick oven pizza everyday!), practice in the music rooms and chill out in the game room. Intramural sports and social events happen in the context of the residential college, and even our Freshman Counselors (or FroCo’s - Seniors who live on Old Campus with us, take care of us, provide our hungry stomachs with pancakes at midnight and advise us on courses and activities) and various academic advisors are affiliated with the college!
What does all this mean in the end?
I never feel like a lonely student, who has been plucked from my hometown in Bangkok and dropped 9,000 miles away into the pool of 5,300 undergraduates, 6,500 graduate students and 1,100 faculty members of Yale. Instead, I feel like I always have a home base out of which I can reach out to new friends and always return to at the end of the day.
That’s why I wish I had known about housing systems back when I was applying as an international student. They really play a fundamental role in fostering one’s sense of belonging to the college community.
So with that said, I have one final note:
-.- .. … … — ..- .-. .- -..- .
(Morse College’s motto in Morse code)