My year studying at Yale was one of the best and most eye-opening of my life, and I was extremely grateful to the University for giving me a chance to take part — as well as to its institutions, like the Yale Daily News, for including me. In “Struggling without structure” (Nov. 9), reporters Lalwani and Zhang have done a great job of drawing attention to Yale’s new commitment to provide better structure to the Visiting Student program. As they remarked, in its present incarnation, the program puts a very heavy onus on participants to make their own way – even down to housing. While assistance in these respects would be welcome, it is to be hoped that structure can be implemented without compromising the amazing scope and freedom the program currently affords.
As is the case with all universities, some of Yale’s professors were very understanding and accommodating about my attempts to fit into an unfamiliar system, while I felt that others were over-hasty in penalizing an alternative mode. Interestingly, I have found that the transition back to Oxford has raised some of the same problems, insofar as my writing no longer fits precisely with the institution’s horizon of expectations. Ultimately though, this is the great value of study abroad programs: having to think into (and out of) different systems increases intellectual flexibility.
The writer is an undergraduate at Oxford University, as well as a former Yale Visiting Student and staff writer for the News.