It felt like…what?

“I felt at home when I visited Yale”

Wait…you WHAT? You “felt” at home when you visited Yale?

Like many of my friends back in Thailand, I applied to colleges in the US not knowing what the students were like and what the classes felt like, let alone having seen the campus itself.

The closest I ever got to Yale was through my blue admitted student packet, singing along to “That’s Why I Chose Yale,” watching Sam Tsui on YouTube (only to look at the Yale setting, of course), listening to stories about my interviewer’s fantastic freshman year, getting overly excited every time I saw a bulldog and clicking through the slideshows upon slideshows of images on the Yale website. Really, flying over to see Handsome Dan during Bulldog Days, Yale’s admitted students weekend, is not the easiest (or cheapest) thing to do when you live over 9,000 miles away!

So, I was curious. How did students here in the US decide where to matriculate? I remember completing my applications in Thailand back in December and considering only 3 criteria:

1. Whether I could study Physics and Music together without compromising either discipline

2. Whether admissions was need-blind for International applicants

3. The departmental rankings

Now that it’s been a month into the semester, I’ve learnt that for students in the US, the “feeling” of being at the college is often the deciding factor. This is probably very obvious if you are a domestic applicant reading this blog (if not then it should be!), but not so much if you are an international student.

Look back at my list…there was no “feeling” aspect at all!

As a new freshman, I’ve only had a brief time “feeling” like a Yalie. But that glimpse is enough to show me that there is so much more to a college experience than my original list of 3. There are aspects of college life beyond departmental rankings that I simply wish I knew back in December, even if only to list and consider them as genuine reasons to attend the college.

For example, the university’s Housing System plays a more important role to one’s sense of belonging than I previously thought.  Remember that college is not high school. Sometimes you are in class only for a few hours a day and its only then when you realize it’s the camaraderie of your suitemates, the friends you meet while walking across campus, the concerts and comedy shows you can go see every night of the week, a space on campus that you always find yourself returning to and the vibe of a student club you’re absolutely in love with that make up the many things which make you feel at home.

Lamtharn on move-in day with a wheelbarrow full of luggage, accompanied by move-in staff and OISS counselors.

- My first day at Yale! Accompanied by awesome counselours from OISS (Office of International Students and Scholars) -