Silliman First-Year Counselors

Camila Franco

My favorite memories from my first year are of my experiences during the Orientation for International Students (OIS) and of hanging out with my two international best friends whom I met there (one from Brazil and the other from Costa Rica). I remember being surprised at how friendly and approachable everyone was. I had a bit of an Impostor syndrome in the beginning and was worried people would be intimidating, but I was quickly made to feel at home and was happy to find out that making new friends was easy - since so many students were great at starting conversations to meet people. My two best friends and I had long talks at night lying in the Silliman hammocks, getting to know each other better after OIS (allowing us to become close friends quickly). I used to feel self-conscious about my accent, but with them I didn’t. We went to our first frat party together (eager to see if frat parties were anything like the ones in the American movies we’d watched), and danced the night away at Woads together most weeks. We studied together in the Silliman common room after having dinner together, which we still do.

Brendan Hellweg

At the end of my Freshman Year, several Jewish members of my suite and I realized we wouldn’t be able to get home for Passover Seder. While none of us was particularly observant at the time, the tradition meant something to all of us, and we decided to put together a small, intimate Seder for ourselves in the Sillikitchen. We made the reservation, divvied up the shopping and cooking, and cooked together to make matzah ball soup and the traditional dishes of the Seder. Each of us brought a few friends, many of whom were new to the other folks at the Seder. In our own eclectic way, we made our way through the Seder, telling stories, singing, and laughing all night, passing around an oversized Russian fur hat one of us had laying around for some reason. After that, we all went back to my suite and talked late into the night. We could have gone to the Slifka Center, but we wanted to make the night our own, and we turned it into one of our closest nights of the year. That was the highlight of my first year.

Jeffrey Hendricks

I have been surprised by Yale’s athletic success since my freshman year, and I am lucky enough to say that I have witnessed a lot of our greatness in person. In 2014, football upset Army in overtime. That was an historic FCS over FBS win. In their 2015-16 season, men’s basketball made the Tournament and upset Baylor in the Round of 64. In 2016, football beat Harvard for the first time in ten years. In 2017, men’s basketball was one win away from returning to the Tournament.

Devin Hilly

Before I came to Yale, I had the misconception that the entire school was connected underground by tunnels. Though it still bums me out on rainy days, it’s been nice to get outside and explore both the Yale Campus and the rest of New Haven. Coming from a big city, I thought the Have would be too small for my liking, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed living here. New Haven really has it all!

Nikolaj Hoejer

My birthday is in late October, and ever since I was little I have dreaded celebrating. It is always at the beginning of a school year when I haven’t had the chance to make close friends. My first year at Yale was no different. I was busy with midterms, and I didn’t really feel like doing anything for my birthday. But two upperclassmen who I had just started to hang out with asked me out for my birthday. That night was very special because I hadn’t expected anyone to sincerely care about my birthday. Today, the two upperclassmen are among my closest friends.

Cole Rianda

My favorite memories from my first year at Yale were when a group of us would go to the football and women’s hockey games in order to cheer on our Silliman friends on the teams. The crew from Tower E that would go to the games together became some of my closest friends at Yale.

Alexandra Small

I recall being extremely nervous walking through the Silliman gates on my first day but my dean ran up to me and already knew my name, where I was from, and what interested me.  Everyone (including professors, security guards, and dining hall staff) truly care about each student’s wellbeing and success.  On move in day, a security guard told my parents that “He has five children at home but when he is at work he treats every student as one of his own”.  Prior to coming to Yale, I had never been in an environment where people I had never met before would ask me how I was doing and where upperclassmen would ask to grab a meal with me just so that there would be another familiar face on campus for me.  Some of my favorite experiences freshman year included trying out for au cappella groups even though I can’t sing well, having karaoke study breaks with my friends, having lunch with my professors on a weekly basis, and joining amazing extracurricular families.  The community is what makes Yale a special place and, even during the stress of finals week, I am beyond happy and proud to call myself a Yalie.

Matthew Stock

One of my fondest memories is that of Freshman Olympics — as one of the Silliman captains, my co-captain and spent tons of time coordinating events, designing t-shirts and getting Silliman freshman excited for the full-day event in April. After tons of rain earlier in the week, we were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather all day, and almost the whole freshman class spent hours outside competing for our colleges and having fun together. It was awesome to see everyone take a break from their work, enjoy the beautiful spring weather and show off their residential college pride. Plus, Silliman took third place, which made the end of the day that much sweeter.

Christian White

One thing that surprised me about Yale is how diverse and open minded everybody is. Everybody is so enthusiastic to listen and learn about each other’s backgrounds, beliefs and passions.

Annie Xu

I remember first entering Yale and feeling slightly overwhelmed by how everybody seemed to have their lives together. I thought all the upperclassmen had their futures completely planned out and that I was the only one who did not. It took a while for me to recognize that my peers feel similarly to me and that they would also experience periods of homesickness and worry about the future. Since then, I learned to be a lot more honest and open with my emotions and experiences rather than put up a front that always seemed cool and collected. I realized that, this way, I could much better feel supported as well as support my friends through their challenges.