Changes from College: Reflections on Life in New Haven

January 25, 2011 - 12 AM

J.L., 1L

I came to law school “straight through” from my undergrad in Houston and so had to make some adjustments upon moving here. There were three things that changed the most for me: housing, food, and culture.

For the first time, I actually had a room of my own (a 2-bedroom I’m sharing with another student). You can imagine how excited I was. But becoming more independent also means having to assemble all your IKEA furniture on your own! The grad school community was nice enough to organize buses to the nearby IKEA for those of us who didn’t have cars. Luckily, once you pick out the furniture, you can request delivery to your home. At first the prospect of assembling a bed, a large book shelf, a dining table, a study desk, a chair, and two dressers all on your own may be daunting. But I learnt that, with a toolbox, it’s actually quite enjoyable. I finished putting them all together in two days.

I rented my apartment without visiting first, so I’m really glad that I haven’t had any problems so far. Housing is more expensive in New Haven compared to Houston. For a one bedroom in East Rock or Downtown, you might pay between $800 -$1200 including utilities, and you may or may not have amenities like a doorman or an in-house gym. As in any city, living Downtown rather than in a more residential area also means you have to be somewhat more cautious and alert, especially if you’re alone at night.

I pass by Au Bon Pain, Blue State Coffee, Yorkside Pizza, and Mory’s on my way to school every day, so I tend to eat at these places when I’m too busy to cook. When the weather is nice and warm, I like to walk back to my apartment and eat at home (salad, slow-cooked meal, frozen food, or soup). For me it doesn’t make a difference in terms of cost whether I eat out or eat in. They work out to be about the same when you take into account convenience and time. But I have found that I eat a lot healthier at home. As for groceries, I order them online from Peapod like a lot of my classmates. The Law School Dining Hall also offers some really good choices at a reasonable price – wraps, soup, and a salad bar. There is also a microwave and a fridge for students in one of the buildings. New Haven also has a great selection of Southeast Asian ethnic food (an amazing range of Indian and Thai food). There are also burrito carts on the streets Monday-Friday close to the law school.

Culture in New Haven is actually quite amazing compared to what I’m used to (not that Houston doesn’t have culture). One thing I miss the most is being able to access the vast art museums that Houston boasts. That said, the Yale Center for British Art, although much smaller, is quite a treat if you need a study break. Because everything is so compact in New Haven, I can walk to the museum from the law school in 5-10 minutes, take a tour there, get yogurt at FroYo World next door, and come back in an hour. If you have an artsy inclination, the Yale Visual Arts Department also offers free sketching sessions every Tuesday night. There is always at least one amazing play put on at Yale every weekend, and their production is nothing less than Broadway quality. Some students who come from NYC or San Francisco complain about the fact that bars close at 2 a.m., but I find this pretty great since in Houston, you have to drive to find the bars that close this late or later. Even though it’s different than being in college, New Haven is a great place to live as a law student.