Yale in London Welcomes Singapore: Connecting Cultures

  • 30 June 2015

This article was originally written as a Featured Story for the Yale Centre for British Art. You can see the original the aritcle here.

Yale’s global connections continue to reach both East and West. The Yale Center for British Art’s Yale in London Program opened its doors even wider, now welcoming students from the new Yale–National University in Singapore campus. Last spring, four students from Yale–NUS joined the program, which totaled seven. The Yale–NUS curriculum focuses on building global perspectives, so it is particularly fitting for these students to join Yale undergraduates in one of the university’s flagship study abroad programs.

In the program, Yale–NUS students and Yale students from the New Haven campus take courses related to British culture and history and live together in shared flats, in various London neighborhoods. Their curriculum for spring includes courses on theater, Victorian photography, and early modern social history.

Yale scholars associated with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art have developed connections with local museums and institutions, which have translated into exciting opportunities, including behind-the-scenes access to museums and meetings with curators of historic sites. Field trips have included the National Media Museum in Bradford and a tour of BBC Broadcasting House.

The theater course inspired a great deal of discussion among the students. For this focused study in British drama, students attended one play each week. This was their first exposure to theater for some of the Yale–NUS students. Aleithia Low (Yale–NUS ’17) appreciated the experience all the more, having a more in-depth context. The professor introduced them to a wide variety of production styles and plays dating from the seventeenth century to the 2010s. Many emotionally challenging productions required students to learn to make critical judgments by mining their own feelings.

Living together in London built a strong sense of community within the group. They economized by grocery shopping and cooking together, sharing fully equipped kitchens in their flats. For some undergraduates, cooking for themselves was a new experience, but one they enjoyed. During the renovation of the Paul Mellon Centre, Yale’s London base on Bedford Square, the students have also been sharing classroom facilities with other American study abroad programs. This provided the opportunity to meet students from other American universities. David Chia (Yale–NUS ’17) attended lectures at the Courtauld Institute and the School of Oriental and African Studies and met British students in nearby coffee shops. But most often the Yale students socialize with each other. Chia said that it has been a rewarding experience for students from the Singapore campus to interact with Yale students. “It helps to correct any misunderstandings between the two groups and helps us better understand each other,” he explained.

Plunged into a dynamic and multicultural city, the students from New Haven and Singapore have explored British life together. When asked if they will return to London in the future, many said yes, they hoped to build on the connections they have made and to return to the UK for work or graduate study.