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Greetings from Camp Yale

Well, kids, it's official. After two scintillating days of Math Camp (seriously though, for non-quants like me, it was an essential refresher and confidence boost) and three-days of free lunches, fumbling name tags, and ice-breaker bonding exercises, we are smack in the middle of the whirlwind that is SOM Orientation. And while my brain is still recalibrating to 6 hours of sleep a night (and reminding me that 90-degree August days are no time to be in school), it has been a blast.

The last week reads like the daily activities schedule on a Carnival cruise ship—but naturally, with a decidedly SOM/MBA flair. We began with lunch with our cohorts (the color-coded subsections of our class with whom we will take our core courses), followed soon after by an ice cream social, clambake, and a small group business plan project that was fun, enlightening, and just a little bit competitive. Sandwiched between 8-hour days of formalized activities were less official but no less-subscribed barbecues, house parties and roving treks to New Haven's finest watering holes. Chalk it up to the gorgeous sunny weather, the hundreds of new faces, or the still homework-free nights, but it feels like we're about one kumbaya away from Camp Yale. Next year, SAS, if you're reading this, we need a bonfire and some s'mores.

Although the last few days have been a bit overwhelming for me, they've likewise been welcome reminders of why I'm here. The Audubon Project and the plethora of wine-and-dine events have introduced me to an incredibly impressive, passionate, warm and diverse group of people. The Class of 2011 comprises a wide spectrum of personal and professional experiences; many come from countries I've never visited, industries I know nothing about, and functions I honestly hadn't heard of before last Wednesday. They format spreadsheets faster than I can open one; they tell side-splitting stories over cheap beer, and they know how foster the inclusive community spirit that I had heard SOM was all about. It all adds up to an incredibly welcoming vibe. Take today for instance. At one of my fellow classmates’ suggestion and initiative, I spent the day lounging at Hamonassett Beach with fellow SOM first-years. One girl had thought that a beach trip would be a fun way to occupy our first (and potentially only for a while) free Sunday, and sent an email invite to the class list to find enough drivers to accommodate those interested in attending. We spent the day swimming, sunning, tossing around a frisbee and getting to know each other. I know, it's a tough life.

As an English teacher at an independent school, I frequently discussed with my colleagues the so-called "ideal" student—the kind of individual we hoped to cultivate in our classrooms. We usually agreed that this person would be curious, passionate, respectful and engaged. If the last few days are any indication, the Class of 2011 is pretty ideal. I can think of no better group to study, work and play with in the years ahead. Like all good things, Camp Yale will come to a close. And as the days get shorter and the nights of accounting and finance homework get longer, I will probably reminisce about the clambakes and the free Ben & Jerry's topping bar. But even when SOM becomes...well, no day at the beach, I can rest assured knowing that it will be an enjoyable (albeit hectic) two years with an amazing bunch of people.