New Haven, CT: Approaching the threshold, I expected to be eaten by Yale’s mascot, the bulldog, but I was deliciously surprised. Walking along the outer paths of the campus, I already sensed a friendly atmosphere. The bustling streets reflect the lively urban life while the serene sidewalks simulate a homey neighborhood where real human beings laugh and chatter, not just solve algorithms.
As I strolled past buildings that I assumed were home to townspeople of the 1800s, I concluded that they were abandoned artifacts. I was shocked to find a bronze plaque on one of those houses with the words Yale Department of Psychology. In fact, the colonial streets are home to Yale’s many academic departments, contrasting with the tall, arrogant structures in which many universities house their facilities.
The Old Campus, a gated residential area for freshmen, transports visitors back to the time when Theodore Woolsey waved his blue and white handkerchief and pushed off the crew team’s boat with his toes for good luck. The palatial Vanderbilt houses Yale’s staff, and, along with other residential houses, encloses a vast courtyard that in Fall sees Frisbee games among the autumn’s crunchy leaves.
Each college, with architectural details unique to its period of formation, seems to scream historical significance. From the Dwight Hall building with its serious gothic spikes to a brick Georgian house that housed America’s first spy, each structure was assembled with painstaking attention. In fact, a builder even buried black tiles in the ground for years to age them in order to have rooftops with weathered looks.
As the epitome of intellectual pursuit, Yale holds 11 million volumes in select buildings. One that stood out is the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, whose exterior is completely wrapped with slabs of thick marble.
Although stereotypes indicate that Yalies are always academically absorbed, the charismatic tour guide was full of stories and my good-humored chat with a senior interviewer suggested otherwise. I grew increasingly comfortable in the setting as I realized that Yale folks never brag excessively about the school’s merits, though its intellectual prowess and physical magnificence rise higher than its Harkness Tower.
Yale speaks softly and carries a big stick, as Teddy Roosevelt advised, allowing overwhelmed spectators to do the praising, as I do now. See their website for more: yale.edu.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.