"Bright College Years" New Haven by emilesc

New Haven Travel Guide: 215 reviews and 369 photos

The Ivory Tower

I spent 4 years in New Haven when I attended Yale University. I don't volunteer this information readily. And here is why: I loved my years there and I certainly worked hard enough to get in and stay there... but the reactions I get when I tell people are more than a little irritating. They gasp, choke on their lunch, suddenly I'm not who I am anymore - suddenly I'm someone who saw the face of God or something.

I can see them building an impression of me that doesn't match the real me... or the impression they had of me the moment before I told them where I went to college. Truth is, I'm a jeans and t-shirt music-and-film-obssessed kind of girl with an occasional foul mouth. I was involved in both the Glee Club and the Women's Center. I'm not a lawyer, I'm not a doctor, I'm not a professor, I don't have an MBA. I don't do lunch with the gals from the old days. It will take me literally half my life to pay my college loans (including interest). I'm not the stereotype of aYalie. I went to Yale not to brag about it, but because it had a liberal reputation. I fell in love with the place and, in spite of the expense, I have no regrets about going.

So I just tell people I went to college in Connecticut. This is interesting from a psychological perspective because people almost never ask me exactly where when I state it that way. They tend to assume I went to a school they've never heard of - otherwise, I would have just *said* the name outright, right?

Okay, enough about that...

"A Blighted Area"

When an Ivy League college recruiter visited my high school, I asked about Yale. I was warned that it is in a "blighted" area. Mind you, I lived on the South Side of Chicago at the time, and it didn't strike me a a good reason to write off a school. And it isn't.

He was right, however. Unfortunately, Yale siphons resources from New Haven, giving new meaning to "town-gown relations." The university is New Haven's biggest employer and as such the people live at its mercy. Yale doesn't give back half as much as it takes. It's an embarassment. As a result, you have one of the richest, largest land-owning institutions in the world in the middle of the richest state in the richest country in the world, but squalor immediately surrounds it.

I literally almost missed Yale the first time I visited. The cab I took from the train station drove right past Old Campus (where most of the freshmen live) and I didn't even recognize the faux-medieval architecture as belonging to a university until the cabbie told me we had arrived.

Unlike many college campuses, there is no distinguishable boundary between Yale and New Haven. Safety, of course, is a concern. The homeless are everywhere and you don't have to walk far to reach a neighborhood you've been told to avoid. This is a good thing, in my opinion. I think I would have torn out my hair if I had spent four years in a college without a city. Yale has extensive volunteer programs enabling students to be civically and politically involved in making the city more liveable and if you make the slightest effort, you can get to know New Haven and bridge some of the gap between the college and the city.

On a frivolous tip, New Haven attracts an incredible theater community. The Yale School of Drama is one of the most celebrated, but Yale isn't the only draw. New Haven is the testing area for many plays before they hit New York only 2 hours away and draws knowledgeable (and moneyed) patrons from all over the tri-state area of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

How Swiftly Are You Gliding By

Bear in mind that my recollections are from over 10 years ago. I haven't had a chance to revisit. But from what I hear and read, not much has changed.

Page is under construction, and for now I think I'll start mostly with restaurant tips.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Academically, Yale was everything I'd heard it was.
  • Cons:Like the man said - "a blighted area."
  • In a nutshell:No regrets.
  • Last visit to New Haven: Aug 1992
  • Intro Updated Aug 21, 2003
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emilesc

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