Jennifer Lu

When Alex Pont YNUS ’18 began looking through Yale’s course offerings, he found himself impressed by the sheer number of classes available in the Bluebook.

Pont is one of 24 exchange students from Yale-NUS who will be spending this semester in New Haven as part of a continued collaboration between the two institutions. The number of students is a huge jump from last spring, when four Yale-NUS students came as part of a pilot initiative. This collaboration between Yale and Yale-NUS is the only visiting program at Yale that is one semester long. For an authentic Yale experience, the 24 Yale-NUS students have been placed into all 12 residential colleges and live in suites with Yale students.

“Because of our close ties, there is considerable interest in spending a semester at Yale,” said Jane Edwards, dean of the Center for International and Professional Experience. “And so we worked with the masters and deans of the residential colleges to figure out how we could accommodate a group of 24 this semester, since that was the number requested by Yale-NUS.”

Trisha Craig, dean of the Center for International and Professional Experience at Yale-NUS, said the number of spots increased this year because this is the first year the young institution has a junior class, which is when the majority of students study abroad. She added that this year there were 53 applications for study abroad spots at Yale. In the future, Craig said, she expects to see a similar number of spots at Yale.

Pont said the number of visiting students from Singapore will help establish a greater Yale-NUS presence on Yale’s campus, as not many students know much about the relatively new institution in Singapore. Already, Yale students have been asking him about his life at Yale-NUS, Pont added.

Of the 24 Yale-NUS students visiting, seven are environmental studies majors. Yale-NUS offers a concurrent degree program with the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. To be eligible for the program, students must spend one semester during their junior year at Yale. Yale-NUS students in the college’s environmental studies major can also earn a Master of Environmental Science or Master of Environmental Management degree by pursuing an additional year of study at F&ES after graduation.

Still, Yihao Xie YNUS ’17 said the requirement is not the sole reason why environmental studies majors at Yale-NUS choose to study abroad at Yale, adding that he would have chosen Yale even without the requirement.

“Yale is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges,” Xie said. “I came here to spend time with Yale students and to have a sense of what liberal arts education in America is like.”

Two other Yale-NUS students also said the caliber of academics at Yale was their top reason for choosing the University as their study-abroad destination.

Herbin Koh YNUS ’17, an economics major, said he chose to study abroad at Yale so that he could take advantage of finance-related courses at the School of Management. Yale-NUS does not offer any classes in finance, Koh said. He added that while Yale-NUS students can take finance courses at the National University of Singapore, which is located right next to Yale-NUS, the credit transfer system is not as convenient. Each module at Yale-NUS is worth either five credits or two credits, while each module at NUS carries four credits. If a student takes many classes from NUS on finance, for example, the student would be behind in credits.

Pont, who is also a student ambassador for the economics major at Yale-NUS, said one of his major goals this spring is to learn how the economics major is structured at Yale. He said he hopes to bring back what he learns here and work with Yale-NUS faculty members to enhance the college’s economics major.

In addition, Pont said he is excited about taking the course “Intermediate Macroeconomics” with economics professor William Nordhaus ’63 GRD ’73, who he said is his favorite economist.

Pont is one of only four sophomore exchange students — the rest are all juniors. Pont said coming here sophomore year gives him time to implement what he learns in New Haven when he goes back to Singapore.

Pont said he knows that many from the group of study-abroad students appreciate the resources provided to them. For example, they can receive counseling sessions at the Office of Career Strategy and have their own Yale academic advisors.

“We feel at home here,” he said.

To help the visiting students adapt to life at Yale, the CIPE hired two peer liaisons. Stephanie Siow ’17, one of the peer liaisons, said the University held a five-day orientation program for the study-abroad students, which consisted of many panels and talks on academics and social life at Yale. The talks even highlighted race-related issues, incorporating events from last semester when the campus erupted into dialogue about racial discrimination at Yale, Pont said.

Siow said the most challenging part for the students will be adapting to New Haven’s cold weather, which is very different from the warm Singaporean climate. In addition, students will have to navigate a much larger campus and share rooms with other students. All Yale-NUS dorm rooms are singles.

Other study-abroad destinations for Yale-NUS students include the University of London, Columbia University and the University of Oxford.