“Oh I’m already set on going to another school,” I said to the countless prefrosh who asked me which schools I was deciding between. I had set my mind on another school back home, because it was close to home and I had done a lot of research. What unfolded during the next 48 hours would get me agonizing over a very important decision that would affect the next four years of my life.
My arrival to Bradley (an airport near New Haven) after a red-eye flight from Los Angeles wasn’t the greatest. Delta had lost my sleeping bag, and I had to wait an hour until they told me they can’t find it. Fortunately, I saw a few other prefrosh waiting for a shuttle that would take them to Yale’s campus.
I had been to Yale a year before, but I was mesmerized by the campus, blanketed with a thick layer of early morning fog that made the gothic architecture even more resolute. Contrary to the somber climate, I was surprised by the excitement and spirit of the people at registration, guiding me throughout the process of meeting my host and getting all my Yale swag. The excitement of the people, adding even more to the surprise, did not seem to end even when I left the campus two days later.
I participated in the optional ice breakers by various student groups out on Old Campus, which was quite the workout, but a nice way to get to know some of the prefrosh. After, I wandered, talking to random prefrosh, and I came across Emily, to whom I asked, “Are you going to dinner?” And she said, “Yeah, wanna come with?” Little did I realize I had met my best friend at that moment.
After dinner at the beautiful Berkeley dining hall was when the night became alive. Numerous student performances, talks, people going everywhere, little events, food events (FREE food), mingling, talking, and a whole lot of picture taking. The electric mood of the first night at Bulldog Days was absolutely addicting. Everything was festive, students alive (even though I later realized they were in the midst of finals, papers, and projects).
Emily and I met a few other prefrosh, and we walked around to various events, like a Korean BBQ party at Davenport, a Karaoke night at the Asian American Cultural Center, an ice cream party at Commons dining hall (just picture the Great Hall from Hogwarts), and game night at the Jonathan Edwards buttery.
All this time, I was finding out exciting life stories of other prefrosh – not their accomplishments, not their SAT scores, not their awards, medals – that enchanted me. I had never before met such a diverse group of people, and the conversations were stimulating, interesting, and funny. We made jokes, we complained about high school, we bonded over k-pop, bonded over Korean barbeque, and I felt like I was in a dream. Was Yale going to be my next home?
The second day went by just as fast as the first, and I got to meet hundreds of both current students and prefrosh, especially at the Extracurricular Bazaar. Mosaic, a multicultural performance show, featured a Korean drum group and was exciting (especially the Steppin’ Out team’s performance). But still, I knew my experience here was temporary. I would return to the West Coast to go to the school I had already set my mind on.
At 3AM, just after the second day had ended, I had a really hard time leaving. I was going to another school’s visiting days, but I wished I could just cancel it. I took a final breath and took a picture with the friends that I had gotten to know so well over a period of less than 48 hours. I said my final goodbyes, and went to Old Campus for my ride to the airport.
For the next week and a half, I kept going back to my experience during Bulldog Days. I had never had an experience similar to BDD, not even when I visited the school that I had set my mind on before going to Yale. I made countless charts, comparison tables, and College Confidential posts about making the “right” decision. The other school was perfect, but that was before Bulldog Days. The mesmerizing campus, the excitement of admitting new students, the spirit of the community who welcomed me not as a student, but as a member of the family all just said, “Yale is your new home.”
Fast forward 3 years, I’m here, comfortable in my own skin, my community, my home. Emily is still my best friend, and we revisit the Davenport Dive, where we took our first picture together. I look back at my decision to choose Yale after placing my heart somewhere else. But not even for a moment do I regret my decision to come to Yale. I’m part of this family, and I’m always ready to welcome more members of the Yale Fam.