When new sophomores and juniors arrived on Albany Road this past fall, many of them were immediately faced with a very different culture—Deerfield culture. Many of them felt that this culture was one unlike any other they’ve seen, and that it was the hardest obstacle they’ve had to cross in life thus far.
“In the first couple of weeks, I immediately noticed that intergrade friendships weren’t as prevalent, and many friends were in defined, set groups,” Yuri Lee ’15 said. “However, the somewhat challenging social life allowed me to reach out to people.”
New junior Keren Alfred ’14 found that the reality she found here clashed with her assumptions.
“Life here is different than what was depicted in the brochures,” she said. “I thought that it would be less cliquey, and that it would be more comfortable to talk to people.”
Many students felt that some of Deerfield’s social aspects lacked real connection.
“I felt like nothing gets done face to face, and some aspects like the hook-up culture are very complicated and not personal,” Hugo Marsans ’14 said.
“There was a huge culture difference for me, as it was hard even to transition to daily conversations,” Andrea Leng ’15 said. “A lot of times it was hard to find a common topic.”
Some new students, however, quickly grew to love the Deerfield lifestyle.
“I love the social life here, particularly because it helps relieve the tension I get from work all the time,” Tyreak Richardson ’15 said.
“I think the success of Deerfield’s social events lie in the kids themselves,” Proctor Adam Philie ’13 said. “For a kid who’s rather shy, a dance can be intimidating, but with a little encouragement from the kids around him, it can be an awesome experience.”
Some students have found other ways to make culture at student hangouts like the Greer easier.
“If you know one person sitting at the table, it makes it much easier to start conversations,” Ian Kagame ’15 said.
“I don’t think it’s hard to be a new sophomore,” Charlie Brahaney ’15 said. “No one really treats the new sophomores any differently than the returners.”
Many said one of the problems leading to culture shock was that the Opening Days schedule provided little breathing room for new students.
“It was busy with meetings from the start,” Matt Ching ’14 said. “I didn’t even have time to just go and try to assimilate at my own pace.”
Some of the struggle could be credited to the apathy that new students such as Sicily Kiesel ’15 felt from some returning students.
“The only way to make the transition easier is for the current students to take responsibility and help the new ones,” she said. “The administration can try all they want, but nothing significant will happen until the students themselves change.”
At the same time, faculty such as Residential Head Kristin Loftus have put in persistent efforts to break down these walls.
“We try to integrate these new students into the community through Connect4, feeds and more,” she said. “But at the same time, we don’t want to single the new sophomores and juniors out.”
“We’ve heard loud and clear about the feedback from the bustling opening days schedule,” Dean of Students Amie Creagh said, “and we’re most definitely revamping it to be less hectic for next year.”
In transitioning, proctor Hannah Insuik ’13 has offered a solution to adjusting to the Deerfield routine.
“It’s easiest to enjoy Deerfield when you know what is going on, so skipping some of those learning steps [for the new students] and just diving in head first would ease them into life here,” she said.
“However, the transition never ends,” Marsans said.