Late Night Wenzels – A Yale Experience


NEW HAVEN, CT —- Between February 27th and March 1st, I found myself in New Haven, Connecticut as part of the Yale Engineering and Science Weekend (YES-W) program. The program is meant to introduce admitted students to STEM at Yale.

For three days, I was immersed in all that Yale had to offer. From examining fossils to hanging out in the butteries – lounges in the basements of the residential colleges – there was always something to do, sleep not included.

After arrival, I met with my host, a mechanical engineer major, and went to brunch in Silliman College’s dining hall. From there, I went out on my own and explored the surrounding area…in temperatures reaching the low 30s. As a southern California resident, I was far from my comfort zone.

The program began with a welcome address by Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan and Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway. Following the dinner address, many of the YES Weekenders went to watch the Yale Men’s Basketball take on Dartmouth; however, we had to leave the event early in order to participate in the famous Junk Yale Wars. In a span of about two hours, students are challenged to create a Rube Goldberg machine using an assortment of materials. The process of building the wacky contraption proved to be entertaining, albeit rather hectic.

Following Junk Yale Wars, we made our way to a buttery to enjoy some pizza. Some kids were playing foosball, while others just sat around and talked. I played a very intense game of table tennis, with pizza as the reward for the winner. At the end of the match, a champion was crowned…me.

The buttery of Silliman College
The buttery of Silliman College

As mentioned earlier, sleep was not included in the program schedule. I showered at 2 AM and stayed up until 4:30 AM talking to a fellow YES Weekender. The effects of that decision were felt throughout the following day.

The next morning, my roommate and I struggled to find our way to the hall in which breakfast was to be served. Eventually we called an Uber and reached our destination. After a welcome address by a panel of professors, students were given the opportunity to hear a lecture by esteemed faculty. Through that class, I was able to visualize the geometry of a sum. Later I would learn the basics of quantum mechanics.

The best part about the experience was the events that were not included in the schedule. Instead of sitting in the auditorium as undergraduates spoke of their research, I attended the brainstorming meeting of the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association. The meeting was held at the Center for Engineering Innovation and Design where the Junk Yale Wars took place the night before. On the board were serious project ideas like a reusable rocket, as well as less serious suggestions, like a concrete plane.

The highlight of the night, however, was the Entertainment Extravaganza. The event featured performances by Low Strung – a cello rock band – and the Red Hot Poker – a sketch comedy group. In addition, there were performances by spoken word poets, a Capella groups, and various dance groups.

The final day was spent checking out classes and saying farewell. Although the program was over, the Yale experience was not over. I decided to spend an extra night in New Haven to avoid taking a red-eye flight back to LAX.

After a quick run and shower, I met up with a current student at Est Est Est, a local pizza joint. From there we made our way to La Casa, Yale’s Latino Cultural Center. As mentioned earlier, the most genuine experiences are those that come events not on a schedule. In my conversations with current students, I was able to receive a personal account of life as a Yalie.

The final night ended with a trip to a late night food joint, but because of my lack of sleep I didn’t bother to remember its name. There I ate the famous Wenzel, which I am told tastes better after a long night of…uhh…studying.

Philadelphia International Aiport
Philadelphia International Airport

The trip home, which took a total of ten hours, was an introspective one. As the time to make a decision about where to spend the next four or so years of my life approaches, I am faced with having to keep an open mind after having had a tremendous experience at Yale. That weekend I met high school seniors who could only be described with one word: extraordinary. I felt an immediate connection, and left the trip feeling as if I had known them for years. For now, it appears that I may be seeing a lot of them over the next four years.

Harvard and Brown are next on my list of schools to visit. The experience I had at Yale, however, will be hard to beat.

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