Studying at Yale: An experience report by Martin Hollmach

The campus of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut (USA).

Dear Fellow SRH Students,

a study trip to Yale University, one of the most renowned universities in the world, offers a terrific opportunity to further develop personally, professionally and linguistically. You can establish friendships with people from all over the world and make important contacts for your professional development. From this personal experience report, you can learn what a study trip to Yale can look like and what you should keep in mind while there. Enjoy reading it.

By Martin Hollmach, MBA student International Healthcare Management

The visa process

After you have successfully applied to Yale over the SRH, the first hurdle that awaits you is the visa process. For a study trip to Yale, you must first apply for the F1 student visa. A somewhat lengthy online registration process is necessary and an appropriate photo must be uploaded. This corresponds approximately to the same standard as a German ID photo. Should the photo not meet the site’s criteria, a photo that does must be brought to the consulate on your next appointment. This appointment can be made online or by telephone at one of the different US embassies in Germany. For the appointment at the embassy, it is important to keep in mind that no bags or purses should be brought into the building. This also applies to cell phones. The necessary forms for the local appointment will be sent by the university in advance. One should plan on approximately four weeks for the entire process.

The journey

The name Yale is known to many people, but where exactly is Yale and how does one get there?

Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut in close proximity to New York. To get there, there is a direct flight to New York. Two German airlines offer direct flights from Berlin to New York, for example. I recommend flying to New York a couple of days before the start of the seminar and spending some time in this terrific metropolis.

For the trip to the university, one can take a shuttle bus directly to the university, or one can travel extremely cheaply by train from New York’s Grand Central Station to the station in New Haven, and take a taxi or an Uber from there. In the following, you can see a couple of photos of the university in both the rain and in the sunshine. This is a typical mix of weather for this region.

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A sunny day at the campus. Yale was founded in 1701 and is the third oldest university of the United States.

 

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With over 12.000 students, Yale belongs to the Ivy League of American universities and is one of the most influential higher education institutions in the US.

Study options and target groups

One is frequently asked what study options there are at Yale, and the answer is a lot. I personally participated from June to August 2015 in a business seminar for students and professionals.

Regular Yale students also participate in the seminars. At Yale there are specialized seminars such as, for instance, business and law, as well as language courses and preparatory courses for studying at American universities. In order to take part in the specialized courses, background knowledge in your respective field is a prerequisite. The participants in my seminar came from all parts of the world. Japan, China, South Korea, the USA, Russia and Colombia, ages 20 to 35, and women and men were represented equally.

Structure of the seminars and preparation

In the following, I would like to give you a brief overview of the structure of the seminars and briefly describe how one can prepare.

The structure of my business seminar was divided into three parts. Every morning from 9 am to 12 pm, we (10 seminar participants) discussed in small groups the texts we had read the previous evening. We discussed a variety of economics topics. These included classical business branches such as finance and marketing, as well as groups of topics that touched on other business areas. Also included was the influence of our cultural background on our business decisions, as well as a discussion on standards and values in today’s business world. The goal of the seminar was to convey all facets of business and not to make anyone into an expert in his own area. In the afternoons, events aimed at improving the participants’ verbal and written English skills and pronunciation training took place. The correct way to write business letters was also vividly presented. Other seminars showed comparable structure and sequence.

Every participant in the very small seminar groups was constantly challenged to be proactive. In the evening, one was always newly surprised at how much he had actually spoken. I am convinced that this frequent communication in English is really decisive in helping one make a genuine leap in their English abilities after the seminar. One still learns a language best when one speaks it.

The professors there are very committed and impress the students with their professional backgrounds and interesting stories.

Should one want to specifically prepare for these seminars, a general overview of what one has learned at the university thus far would be absolutely helpful, but not a must. Preparing for individual areas of specialization, however, makes little sense.

In addition to the classical instruction, there are team-building activities as one knows them from companies. On my first Friday at Yale, we visited, for example, a climbing gym. In the following photo you can see me taking a big jump.

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Seminar participants also meet outside the classroom for outdoor team-building activities.

Life in New Haven, supporting program and leisure activities

Life in New Haven, how I found the accommodations, and a couple of pieces of information I would also like to give you.

As a seminar participant, one can live either on the university campus, or outside in a hotel. I lived on the campus and can only recommend it. One should surely not expect luxury accommodations, but the food is outstanding. Each seminar participant gets one or more roommates. I have never heard so much about the Japanese legal system as I did from my Japanese roommate, who studied in Tokyo and participated in the law seminar. This is where the foundation for real friendships can be laid.

Besides the class events, every week Yale offers a variety of activities. These represent a good mixture of culture and feeling of American life. A visit to a Broadway show is highly recommended, as is attending a New York Yankees baseball game or visiting the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. In the following photo you can see me in the previously-mentioned NBA Hall of Fame. A visit to the Yale Art Gallery particularly impressed me. Here you can find masterpieces from artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh or Cranach with no entrance fee.

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A visit to the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts is highly recommended.
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Yale students enjoy a lively cultural life: the Yale Art Gallery houses works by Picasso and Van Gogh, among other great artists.

A large fitness center is also available free of charge for all seminar participants. A visit is definitely worthwhile. Beyond that, there are always group events such as barbecue dinners. Whoever wants to simply relax at a party, a game of pool or table tennis, or simply chill out and watch television can find the right option in one of the air-conditioned common rooms.

Structure of everyday university life

In order to be present in the seminars and be able to perform best, it is important that everyday things should run in a smooth and straightforward manner. I would also be glad to give you a few tips on this.

Every seminar participant who decides as I did to live on campus has three daily meals available (breakfast, lunch, dinner), and the food and drinks are really good.

There is always a buffet with a large selection of unique meat dishes and vegetarian food. A 2-hour lunch break allows enough time to visit the cafeteria and prepare yourself for the afternoon events. Here you see me at lunchtime in the university cafeteria.

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The cafeteria is a good place to meet friends, relax and enjoy a balanced meal.

There are washing machines and dryers available in the dormitories, which can be used for a small fee and paid for with a credit card, as can pretty much everything in America. Because it is quite warm and humid in New Haven in the summer months, I took advantage of this regularly. Shopping options can be found on the campus, as well as directly nearby. Here you can get everything for your daily needs and to make your stay a pleasant one. On the campus there are stores where you can buy classroom materials such as pens and paper, food, small accessories that make everyday life easier, such as small fans, or a variety of souvenirs for purchase.

The selection of souvenirs is really unbeatable, and here you are guaranteed to find something for yourself, your family and friends.

A couple of words to conclude

Everyone who seeks the challenge of proving themselves in a demanding intercultural environment has come to exactly the right place at Yale. People of all nationalities and denominations come together here and are able to exchange ideas with others about certain topics and areas of study. At Yale one not only extends his specialized intercultural horizons, but one establishes genuine friendships and important contacts for their own professional development. In small seminar groups, one is continually active discussing internal and external success factors for companies, analyzing balance sheets of publicly-listed companies, and creating and presenting business plans. I am still surprised at how strongly my English abilities improved during my stay at Yale.

I hope you also have the desire to take advantage of this incredible experience.

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