Yale Specific Tips

Please press on the highlighted links for more information. Please refer to my previous post for general must dos.

 Abbreviations and Terms:

  • HOC-Head of College: is the head of the residential college. They oversee all social aspects and wellbeing of the students
  • Dean of College: The dean of your college is who signs your final schedule and who you go to for your general academic needs.
  • Advisor: you will be assigned an advisor by your college, and you will meet with this advisor to discuss your interests and the courses you want to register but the Dean ultimately signs off your schedule. You can switch your advisor after the first year.
  • Froco: is an upperclassman assigned to a small group of students (froco group) who provides peer mentoring and guidance who lives in your residential college
  • DUS: Dean of Undergraduate Studies for your major. Once you declare a major, the DUS will have to approve your schedule, before the DOC does the final approval.
  • DR and skills; Distribution Requirements:  Humanities, Social Sciences, Science, Foreign Language, Quantitative Reasoning, and Writing. 

Shipping and Housing:

  • There is a receiving center for packages, it needs to be addressed to the student and the college, they will send you an email when they receive it and you need to pick it up. For sending packages before move-in, you need to look closely at the date you may begin receiving packages there.  The location is a bit inconvenient but ok if you don’t receive a lot of packages.  UPDATE FOR 2020/21: they will forward your packages to your residential college during the 14 day quarantine period. Keep in mind, you will not receive regular US Postal mail there. UPDATE FOR 2020/21: they will let you receive voting ballots at your residential college, please scroll down on the link above for more info. To receive US Mail, you need to rent a box from either the USPostal Service which is close to Old Campus or UPS which is closer to Morse/Stiles. 

Proxies and HIPPA release:

  • From Yale: You can designate another person to receive your protected health information or to ask questions on your behalf, but you must give written permission, with a Designation of Patient Spokesperson form (PDF). For more information, call Yale’s Health Information Management Department at 203-432-0062.

Moving in:

  • There is a student-run organization that will bombard you with emails, from there you can get with your suitemates a refrigerator/microwave combo (split the cost amongst your suitemates), you order it before move-in day and they deliver it at the beginning of the semester and retrieve it when you move out. Update: for the 2020-2021 year Yale will provide this and will be at the suite upon arrival.
  • The same group also sells bed sets, food, etc.  The only thing I would consider getting from them is the mattress topper so that you have it there once you move in. Otherwise, you would need to time the shipping for it to arrive and be processed at the receiving center upon your arrival.
  • Beds are fully adjustable, so you can rise them to add storage in the bottom.
  • There is a new service by Bulldogbeds that provide a topper that widens the bed. I have never seen this so I cannot vouch for it.

Class Selection/ Tips

  • Make a spreadsheet with different tabs for all the potential majors you may have. Look at the prerequisites and see if any coincide with other potential majors. Make the first tab one for all of Yale’s distribution requirements.  On the Yale Course Search all classes will indicate which Distribution Requirement do they satisfy if any.
  • Distribution Requirements: Read here for all the rules about which DRs are needed to advance to the following. Year. This is a sample table:
Distribution Requirements 1 2
Humanities (2)
Sciences (2)
Social Sciences (2)
Foreign Language (Level 5)AP Course (if score of 5)Level 5 language course
Quant.Reas (2)
Writing (2)

First-Year Seminars: 

  • Try to take at least one per semester. This is your one opportunity to have a small class size.  Try to take a course that will satisfy one of the distribution requirements and if possible, choose the DR that you anticipate would be the hardest to satisfy later depending on your major.
  • You have to pre-register for the seminar before the semester begins, so pay close attention to the emails and the deadlines. You will have to rank them in order of preference and show up on the shopping period.

Course Selection:

  • Take a good look at your potential major prerequisites. Some majors have very specific requirements and course sequences so it’s best to plan ahead of time.  
  • On Yale Course Search-once you log in, you can create different workbooks.  You can have a general one, where you add classes that look interesting to you, and then create a custom one for the semester.
  • Course Table– is a great resource to read reviews of both the Professors and the overall course.
  • AP credits: pretty much won’t count for much except for acceleration credits. You can read more about that, yet it is still very confusing. The only way it works if you want to graduate a semester early. 
  • AP Credits will not count into your 36 credits required to graduate AP credits will help you skip an intro class, but it is on a case by case basis.
  • For Foreign Language: if you get a 5, then you still have to take one Level 5 language course and then you will satisfy that DR.

Must Dos Before Going to College

As I am about to send my second child to college, I would like to share with my friends some helpful tips I’ve learned along the way with my first. I will come back to this page, and keep updating. I’ve included some links, please comment and share your tips.

 Medical Related Matters:
  • Doctors: As they turn 18, they need to find a new adult or family doctor, OBGYN, etc. schedule those well check appointments now so that you have a doctor you can call to get prescriptions or any other problem that their school health clinic won’t cover.
  • Health Forms: Download all health forms from your college. There are usually more than one, the general health form and the vaccination report form. (please note that just the vaccination report often is not enough, it needs to be re-written into the school’s official vaccination report). Make sure you have received all required vaccines. Scan and keep a copy of all these documents on a file folder in your computer titled “College-health forms”. Trust me they will call you and say that they need their vaccine report for many organizations or going to their health service appointment, and they usually need it “NOW”. Print a copy for them to take and keep in a secure place.
  • Dental: Schedule your dental checkups to coincide with their summer and winter vacations. If you have to get wisdom teeth extracted, do it now. There is nothing worse than having to find a local oral surgeon last minute and far from home. Usually, those painful infections come in the worse possible timing.
  • Medications: Create a game plan for recurrent medications, get prescriptions transferred to their local pharmacy. If they are taking ADHD/Anxiety medication, you will need a local doctor, or specialist approval at their school health services before you can get a refill. Mailing medications is not allowed, and a doctor can’t prescribe certain medications from a different state. All records should be sent to the school’s disability office ahead of time. It is important that these controlled medications should be stored in a safe in a room. See below for safe ideas.
  • Create a health kit for them: with all the things they usually rely on you to dispense: bandaids, Tylenol, ibuprofen, triple antibiotic, hydrocortisone cream, allergy pills, nasal sprays, etc.


  • Packing: Don’t leave packing for the last minute. Right now, it seems the summer is long. But they have a lot of stuff. It’s a good time to clean up and see what they can take with them and what you would need to purchase. Then cut that list in half. You won’t need as many things nor would they fit in their tiny rooms. Also make sure they ok with their moms and siblings what they are taking. I know of many sibling spats when they discover they took their favorite sandals, blow dryer and tops.
  • Luggage/Storage:When packing think about where you are going to store the suitcase/luggage you will be traveling back and forth. There is limited space in the room, so your weekend bag must fit inside your suitcase under your bed, and that is the place where you need to store your “sweaters” or your second set of sheets/towels. I repeat, think about the size of that suitcase, it won’t fit!
  • Mailbox: Find out what is the package or mail situations for their schools. Many places you can accept a package but not regular postal mail. Some have amazon boxes others you need to rent a special PObox. I know at some colleges you can get packages in a receiving center, but it is inconvenient, and you can’t receive regular mail, only packages. You need to rent at the post office a $50/year PObox to receive all other mail, including absentee ballots. This is essential because it’s best to buy things online for all your dorm needs and buy them to get them when you are there to move in. I’ll put these list in a separate section.
  • REGISTER TO VOTE:  Make sure you are registered to vote and make sure you have a valid mailing address to receive your absentee ballot. For Texas you can obtain a voter registration application here. Parents, please assist your young voters in registering either in their local state or in their college state. Also assist them with postage and deadlines for absentee voting. Many states, like Texas you can’t register via vote.org.
  • SHIPPING:  I used this wonderful service: Lugless.com to ship one big suitcase for less than the price of an airline checked bag. You print the tag at your home and then drop it at the nearest UPS store. Then it gets delivered to your door at home or other destination.  This is definitely very convenient and less expensive than shipping a bunch of boxes via USPS or UPS.
  • Bank account: If they don’t have their bank account setup do so now. Usually they won’t be charged fees if they are affiliated with your account. Make sure they get an ATM/ Debit card and that they connect their own venmo to that. This is the best way for them to learn how to budget their “discretionary money”. They will think twice before paying for items when it comes out of their own account. The family credit card (emergency card) can be kept in the safe and only used for essentials, and once that can be used for 529 approved purchases.
  • 529 accounts: Keep your record (spread sheet or email subfolder ) for all college expenses that qualify for a 529 expense. It is important to remember that you can only get reimbursed for expenses incurred on the same year you remove the money. Read here for all 529 qualified expenses. 
  • Personal Property Insurance: I Didn’t even know this existed until I needed it. Check this link and your school website but this is why you would need it.  Say your student checks out from the material labs an electronic item and it gets, lost, stolen, or breaks. You have to pay for replacing it. It could be a digital camera, a VR head set, a computer… You can imagine the cost. Also, I believe this can cover your personal computer and peripherals. Check with your home insurance, but I think you might need a separate one like the one above. Read closely and choose the plan that works for you.  
  • Proxies: This topic is a bit more sensitive than most and it all really depends on your own family’s decision. Once they turn 18, they are adults and they will need to sign proxies to give you access to their information. This include medical, financial, academics, etc.  I have read many articles of parents that did not have one in place with their child and were completely unaware of their son/daughter’s health and mental wellbeing.  I also know of many cases that a school administrator is unable to contact the parent’s if they are struggling unless they have that proxy.  Even more, I know of parent’s who had no access to their grades, even if they were paying for their school, and did not realize they were in academic suspension, etc.  Set an agreement about certain password sharing, and or proxies that best fit your family’s needs.
  • HIPPA Release Form: It is so important for your child to sign a medical power of attorney and/ or a privacy release form, once they turn 18. Otherwise, if for some unfortunate reason your child is sent to the hospital and is unable to give consent, Doctors will not be able to talk to you nor you will be able to make decisions on their medical conditions. Read this article about why this is important. Here is another article summarizing the legal documents you need. Here is a sample template for an advance directive or here for more state specific forms.
  • Important Documents: Scan and keep a copy of your student’s driver license, health insurance card, passports, credit cards, etc. One at home and another on their safety box, in case they lose them or it gets stolen.
  • Label Everything: I know it’s not “camp”, but trust me, when you leave your earphones, coat, water bottle or your iPad in the library you will wish you had a little sticker with your email and phone number. Most people return items if they know to whom to return them. Print a bunch of labels and use them!

Room Essentials– I will update this list as I think of more.

  •  I suggest you start a “wish list” on amazon or any other site of choice where you can order these things on a need basis. The student can create a student amazon prime account free for 6 months and 50% off after that with their new student email. (I am not being paid for amazon). Most things your student thinks they’ll need they don’t, but others you can always order at amazon. These are some of the things we ended up buying.
  • Ikea Duffel Storage Bags: These bags are a must to pack everything you need to take, and to store all their items. They collapse and they are hardy, especially for moving days and storing over the summer. They are so popular that they even sell it at amazon and Walmart. So next time you are near an Ikea get them, because they are very popular. You will thank me later.
  • Small Safe: At first, I thought this wasn’t essential, but then I realized that it’s important to get a small safe for their room, where they can store jewelry, prescription meds, family credit cards, and any other important documents that contain private info. I got this one because it could fit an ipad/laptop (though I don’t think he has ever stored it there, he now feels the one we got is too big.   But this is another popular one, especially for your daughter:
  • Mattress topper and mattress protector
  • Multi-Plug, extention cord, UL approved surge protector. There are not enough electrical outlets for all their electronics, and often they are in a wall you cannot reach.
  • Air Purifier / with or without fan: Dorm rooms may be dusty and musky, we didn’t get this until the second year, and it made a great difference in reducing upper respiratory issues. This one is compact and works pretty well. 
  • Circadian lamp: If they are going to a place that is not as sunny, and you are used to the sun, and are prone to seasonal affective disorder, or have a really bad sleep/wake schedule, these lamps really help. This one is compact, the size of an ipad, there are others that double as circadian lamp and desk lamps.
  • Shower Caddy: I like this foldable and mesh caddy
  • Food containers: if your student is always hungry, they can pack at their dining hall (sneakily) some food, so that they can reheat later in their dorms.
  • Other Items: Obviously XL twin sheet sets, pillow, towels, comforter.  He laundry detergent, dryer sheets, hangers, laundry bag, lint remover, safety pins, toiletries. I bought a small inexpensive steamer because irons tend to not be allowed in dorms.

Villa Savoye

by Diego Miró, Guest Contributor

Built from 1929 to 1930
By French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier

The Villa Sovoye is about a 30-minute train ride from the city center and a 20-minute walk up to the estate from the train station in Poissy. There is also an option to take a bus, but the walk is quite enjoyable.

Upon entry to the estate, make sure you don’t overlook the small house to the right, the house of the groundskeeper, designed to mirror the style of the Villa, but at a smaller scale.

You will continue down a tunnel of incredible trees, that will open up to the main yard. Here, you will find the glistening Villa Savoye, which even almost a century later, still seems like a spaceship that has landed on the open field.
In the words of Le Corbusier, “The house sits on the grass like an object, without disturbing anything.”


Built from 1929 to 1930 By French/Swiss architect Le Corbusier

The white walls and strip windows create a clean frame for the luscious greens that engulf the home. Le Corbusier’s intention was clearly to control the environment by showcasing it through the window and doorway placement.

The heart of the house is a winding staircase that reaches the top deck, which offers a nice view. The house was designed for a social family, including a guest room and a big kitchen.

The experience of the visit was very special. Since it’s a little out of the way of all the other Paris attractions, it was was evident that all the people visiting Le Villa Savoye truly wanted to be there. All the visitors were quiet and respectful, photographing and sketching the building with great joy. This behavior was rewarded with full access to every part of the house without an security.


I often found myself alone in the rooms, allowing me to truly take in the spaces and design, without the distraction of a security guard or a crowd.

All in all, it is worth the trip, especially for someone who loves architecture.

About the author: Diego Miró is an artist, student and travel enthusiast and a main supporter of lifeviarosa. He is currently traveling through Europe by train, and will be contributing his experience to this site.

Practical Information:

website: http://www.villa-savoye.fr

By Train: Line A to station Poissy then bus 50 to “La Coudraie”, stop “Villa Savoye”


Fuerteventura-Canary Island, Spain

Located 62 miles from the northern coast of Africa, the island of Fuerteventura, (strong wind) offers beautiful beaches and a spectacular varied landscape.

Based in Corralejo in the northern tip of the island we ventured to different parts of the island.

Corralejo to Ajuy

Our first stop out of Corralejo was the small town of La Oliva named for its old olive trees. It has a simple yet beautiful church and the wonderfully preserved “Casa de los Coroneles” set against a beautiful arid landscape.

Continuing south on FV-10 and later roads FV-207 and FV-30 winding roads we get great views of the Tindaya mountain and surrounding arid landscape with interspersed palm trees as we approached the towns of Tefia and Betancuria. You can stop along The way to appreciate the panoramic views.



This little town of only 150 residents host the wonderful caves of Ajuy. Before our short hike, we had lunch at the friendly restaurant named after the caves.

A very well maintained path begins at the volcanic sand beach rising to the edge of the cliffs leading to the spectacular caves.

On our return to Corralejo we stopped in the nearby town of Pájara, which contained a gorgeous church from 1711, honoring the Virgin de Regla with a Mexican influenced animals and geometric designs on the portada of the main facade.


These towns are all beautifully kept with simple gardens, plazas and town centers. We were very lucky to stop in Tinueje on the day of the third Sunday of June when they celebrate the Virgin of Health, with a lovely concert and the locals dance the rondillas.

As the night set, we returned to Corralejo for a very late dinner.

Reading: The Books I read and listened in 2016

Yes, I’m that person who keeps a spreadsheet of all the fiction books (and a few sprinkled non-fiction) I have read since 1991. I love reading, but ever since I became a mother 17 years ago, I realized that reading became another item on my balance scale. I had to constantly negotiate my adored sleeping time with the hours of page turning.  However, I have finally embraced the AUDIOBOOKthe one thing I was most thankful for in 2016. Of course I’m thankful for family, children, friends….but what I was excitedly most thankful for: THE AUDIOBOOK!

For a multi-tasking, curious, and easily distracted adult, I have found the cure to the boredom of the endless unloading and re-loading of the dishwasher. I have found a companion to my pathetically unyielding labour at my garden and a much needed encouragement on my walk/runs.  The audiobook has allowed me to keep up and maintain a rhythm of the pages I read before I go to bed.  The next morning I keep going where I left off.  I am a convert and most books of 2016 were read in combination with the audio.

Major shoutout goes to my wonderful friends who suggest great books to me, and of course the beloved Westbank Library that has such a wonderful collection of both versions of the book.

It was a good year of books, as I loved most of them.

Runaway Munro, Alice Lovely. One of the first books I read in conjunction with its audio version. Loved listening to these women’s stories, felt like listening to a friend on the phone.
A Little Life Yanagihara, Hanya Haunting. No audiobook for this one, but what a wonderful read. Tough material for most people, but the characters have stayed with me for a long time. One of my faves.
Of Mice and Men Steinbeck, John A classic for a reason. Read this right before watching the Austin Lyric Opera’s production. Also available on audiobook, read by Gary Sinise.  Wonderful development of characters.
The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway, Ernest Wanted to read for a while. After reading the previous ones, I just felt underwhelmed.
My Brilliant Friend Ferrante, Elena Love-Hate relationship with this one. Wanted to find out more, but I hated both main characters.
When Breath Becomes Air Kalanithi, Paul So sad.
The Son Meyer, Phillipp I think the audiobook is superb, read by three different voices. I can see why they made it into a tv miniseries.
For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway, Ernest Felt a bit slow, but interesting take on the Spanish Civil War. Had trouble with Campbell Scott’s pronunciation of Spanish words and now hear his voice every time I hear the expression “que va”.
The Nightingale Hannah, Kristin Easy and page turning read. A story of the nazi occupation in France, told from a female and french point of view.
The Story of a New Name Ferrante, Elena I started the first, needed to continue with the series.
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay Ferrante, Elena This one was my favorite of the series
The Story of the Lost Child Ferrante, Elena
Middlesex Eugenedis, Jeffrey If there ever was a book that was meant to be listened to is this one, if only for the scene at the car assembly line. Fantastic book. A fave.
Crazy Rich Asians Kwan, Kevin funny beach read
Crazy Rich Girlfriend Kwan, Kevin good palate cleansers after very heavy books
All The Light We Cannot See Doerr, Anthony so so. I have started and stopped this book so many times. After reading the Nightingale found this one a bit blah.
Life After Life Atkinson, Kate Loved, loved, what a surprise. Thanks to my friend Alex W. I have become a fan.
Fates and Furies Groff, Lauren Can I say hate? Just did not like either of the characters and found it so pretentious.
Luckiest Girl Alive Knoll, Jessica Perhaps I disliked this one even more.
My Name is Lucy Barton Strout, Elizabeth Loved. Again, Strout can tell fascinating stories of the mundane. So simple and so good.
The Life we Bury Eskens, Allen Ok
A confederacy of the Dunces Toole, John Kennedy Thought I was going to love it, then I thought I was going to hate it, and now I can see the humor of it. The character definitely is one to remember.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette Semple, Maria Read as a preparation to our upcoming trip to Seattle. Easy fun read from a fellow Barnard Alumn.
Today Will Be Different Semple, Maria The adult version of A Terrible, No Good, Bad Day.



This destination is the second stop of the Birthday Road Trip.

Day One-continued…

We arrived to Peñafiel in the late afternoon on a Friday, and we met up with our friends who were coming from all parts of Spain, to join us on our weekend festivities. Peñafiel is a charming town located at the heart of the wine country of Ribera del Duero in the province of Valladolid in the region Castilla y León.  Its first distinctive feature is a castle atop a giant rock “peña” mountain, with expansive views of the beautiful vineyards.


Some of the famous wineries of this area are  Vega Sicilia, Pingus, Abadia Retuerta, Alion, Mauro and Protos.  If you want to purchase or sample wines from smaller wineries you can stop at the wine shop in town, Vinos Ojosnegros.

Another distinctive site, is the “Plaza del Coso”, a bullfighting ring completely enclosed by private residences dating from the middle ages.  It is really spectacular to enter through a small opening on the housing block to find this singular space with the castle in the background.

Day Two- After breakfast some people walked around the city, visited the Plaza del Coso and then we met for our first planned activity: a tour of the Protos winery.  We chose this winery not only for the quality of the wine, but also because their modern building was designed by the British architect Richard Rogers.  You have to make reservations ahead of time for their wonderful one and a half hour tour, which takes you through their cellars built on the natural caves under the mountain. You can see from afar the multiple chimneys that ventilate these underground spaces.

After the fabulous wine tasting, we went to lunch at Asados Mauro, whose specialty is the most delicious “lechazo”, young lamb roasted on firewood.  Other delicacies of the region are Flor de Esgueva cheese, sopa castellana, the dessert Ponche Segoviano and of course all the wines.

After lunch, most went back to the hotel for a siesta, but the most active of the bunch toured the castle. We all reconvened for the official birthday dinner party that lasted until 3:30 am the next day.



Sleep: There are many wonderful lodging options ranging from small boutique hotels on specific vineyards such as Hotel AF Pesquera. We decided to stay in the heart of town in the Hotel Convento las Claras. We were hosting over 80 guests so we chose this very well equipped hotel and the lawn/pool area had great views of the castle which was lit at night.

Coming Soon: Day Three: Roa and Aranda del Duero