Most students find the economics department friendly and hospitable. The faculty is accessible, and students are encouraged to cooperate, rather than compete, with one another. As a result, students tend to work in groups on problem sets and in preparing for exams. The camaraderie spills over into social life. The department fields high-spirited (if not always outstanding) teams in intramural softball, soccer, volleyball, and basketball. (All but the last are co-ed.) A high point of the year is the annual Christmas skit, a semi-professional spectacle in which students mock themselves, their professors, and the profession to the general amusement of all assembled (faculty, students, spouses, and friends). The faculty skit that ordinarily follows is worth the price of admission (zero).
Life in New Haven, sometimes maligned in contrast with Boston or the San Francisco area, is actually very pleasing. Many students and faculty members live on the charming tree-lined streets of the East Rock neighborhood, within walking distance of the department. Whether you live in the city or in a nearby town, the area offers some of the loveliest features of New England life, without the congestion typical of a major city.
New Haven is the core of a metropolitan area of about half a million people and has its share of the problems of many American center cities. Crime rates here are, on a per capita basis, comparable to those in other cities. They are not nearly as high as those in the most crime-ridden large cities, however, and New Haven is sometimes mistakenly viewed as unsafe compared to other university locations. This may be because of the contrast between the small-town physical ambience in some areas near Yale and the city’s overall crime rate. One has to be prudent about crime in New Haven, but the problems here are not greater than in most other urban areas.
The quality of cultural life is remarkable for a city of this size (roughly 120,000). New Haven boasts two of the finest repertory theaters in the country, excellent offerings of choral chamber and orchestral music, two superb art museums, and much more. Yale’s numerous film societies and the small commercial theaters adjacent to campus offer an overwhelming array of opportunities for diversion. The New Haven area has an ethnic diversity unusual for a city its size, and correspondingly varied restaurant options. New Haven’s pizza is, in the view of Time magazine and other commentators, the best in the nation.