In 2008-2009 students were asked to complete a survey about their experiences. Here are some of the answers that you might find interesting and/or helpful in your planning:
"I think that there are experiences and a growth that one cannot undergo in the college environment in one's home country."
"Studying abroad is an immeasurably rewarding experience, and Yalies should be strongly encouraged by the university to study abroad for at least a semester. Yale has done a good job of providing many opportunities for Yalies wanting to go abroad over the summer, but there is a lot of work to be done on semester or year-long offerings. As an international institution, this is something that Yale really should try to focus on. For my part, I plan to encourage anyone I know who is interested in studying abroad to really consider it strongly."
"Even though I am an international student which means that from the outset I had already experienced life in an entirely different setting, I do think that traveling abroad to a place that you had no previous contact with and to make a good experience out of your time there is the sort of worldly, global-oriented and wholly enriching education that any Yale student should wish to pursue."
"I will strongly promote the idea of studying abroad, even if only during the summer, to other students at Yale. Some students still seem rather ignorant of the wide range of resources that Yale provides and the wide range of courses that you can take abroad. Often the best way for students to be convinced that studying abroad is a good idea is by talking to people who have gone through the process before them."
"This has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life and is something that more students should consider."
"I really believe study abroad is for everyone. For me and every other study-abroad-er I've spoken to, it an extremely positive, in many cases life-changing, experience. You end up learning and growing so much in that one semester because you are challenged with new situations and ideas every day."
"I blogged for every day I was in China (60 days total) and took tons of pictures to make sure I will remember the time I spent there. I would love to tell others about my experience and encourage them to travel and study abroad! It was such a fulfilling experience. I loved how it came full-circle at the end."
"...I learned valuable lessons about myself that will change (for the better) how I value my Yale education."
"I don't think Yale could've prepared me for the challenges I faced...I think there are certain things we have to learn on our own and that's the difficulty and the beauty of study abroad -- your own personal growth facing unexpected difficulties and learning how to deal with them."
"Part of the experience is to learn how to deal with obstacles without any help from Yale."
"It was better to learn on my own. If there was extreme difficultly (one instance), the faculty there was very supportive."
"I think that the nature of the experience was very personal. While there were a few times when I was struck by how independent I was, and that there was no clear person to look to when dealing with certain challenges, I think this was a very valuable part of the experience. I may feel differently had I been confronted with something I felt I could not handle, but this was not the case for me."
"I like learning on my own, and I think to a certain extent Yale can't specifically prepare you for what you are going to encounter--everybody is going to experience different things."
"I think too much support from Yale would have been a mistake. A hands-off policy enabled me to find my footing without having to report to an authority 3000 miles away. I had an excellent, extremely responsible program abroad, and I was glad to turn to them whenever I had difficulties. I think intervention from Yale--which, being as far as it is, can't speak with exact accuracy or immediacy about many study-abroad issues--would be more of a hindrance than a help."
"I did not experience any harrowing difficulties, and it felt great and novel to be more independent academically and personally during my time abroad."
"Yale's support has been very helpful and I greatly appreciate it. I think if there is anything to learn, that would be time management, how to balance school, social life, and work. Just like at college."
"I'm glad I was allowed to learn on my own to the extent that I did. I am sure Yale would have been there to support me if I had needed it, but I prefer being left to deal with these kinds of experiences on my own before that."
"I think that studying abroad allowed me to experience a new form of independence, different from college where I could go to the administration for support or a trip to my parents was only about 2 hours away by train. Living in Korea has definitely taught me to learn and grow on my own."
"During my study abroad, Yale could not have been more supportive. I felt that by being such a small group, professors and program coordinators were much more approachable and supportive than being in New Haven. They made sure to make us comfortable in this new environment."
"...learning on my own was awesome."
"It was nice to be outside the Yale net."
"I believe it was best learning/working through my difficulties on my own."
"Yale supported me in more ways than I expected, regarding the application process, finalizing my plans, and financing my endeavors. This support was gracious; further support would have been detrimental to my personal learning and self improvement."
"I think facing difficulties on your own is more important because in the future, you are not guaranteed to always have someone else be there to help you. It was great knowing that I could always contact Yale if I needed any support, but I believe that ultimately, it comes down to learning how to handle difficult situations on your own."
"It was definitely better to learn on my own. The Yale library is awesome, but after I leave here I will encounter more difficulties in research, so learning how to navigate the archives in France has given me a taste of what awaits me this year as I try to collect more sources for my senior essay."
"I think the independence and separation from the Yale bubble was invaluable and allowed me to be more self-sufficient. This will become especially important as I move away from Yale."
"I tended to operate almost completely independently during my time abroad. In so doing, I tested and learned a great deal about myself."
"Before going, I wish I had known how amazing it was going to be so that making the decision wouldn't have been so hard."
"...a bit more historical background; it sounds trivial, but practical things about what to bring/pack."
"The difficulty of balancing language study with networking."
"That ultimately there's no such thing as a "right" or "wrong" experience abroad. I found that the desire to do as much as possible--and to assimilate and behave according to some mysterious "successful study abroad" standard--was overwhelming for most of the semester."
"I wish I had done more research about Taiwanese history/culture."
"...that this would be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life."
"How difficult it would be to return to Yale."
"To have spent more time reading about the history of the place I visited before I went."
"Reach out to a lot of people early to start forming contacts."
"How to haggle effectively in street markets."
"...how great this is...I should've done it earlier..."
"...more about the needs of the non-profit organization I was working at so I could have come in with a project already set."
"That being abroad can be lonely."
"Romantic notions of study abroad differ drastically from harsh realities of real life; prepare to be lonely and experience cultural shock."
"Don't be afraid of going out and meeting people, both local people and possible network contacts, and don't be afraid of making mistakes when learning the language."
"I will make mistakes, and it will be okay."
"...my own values, especially as a woman in a deeply gender imbalanced region."
"...making friends with outside the program, with nationals."
"It's easy to go to the stereotypical American clubs and activities - you have to really work as it if you want to integrate yourself into authentic Italy."
"...getting away from fellow students and making friends in the community."
"...finding ways to regularly interact with locals in local language."
"Accepting and enjoying the culture in and of itself. I definitely missed American values and creature comforts."
"Logistical planning, especially in a foreign language."
"Getting all of my academic work done, and also experiencing the culture, exploring the city..."
"...creating a whole curriculum for yourself."
"...cultural differences in ideas of time, schedule, organization."
"...managing time between studying and exploring the environment."
"Adapting to the cultural norms."
"Staying within budget."
"Just starting a conversation."
"Finding a house on my own."
"Immersing myself in the local culture while living with Yale students."
"I didn't realize how draining thinking, speaking, and listening to a foreign language constantly was. You need to have enough time to sleep and some personal time as well."
"Time management. Making time for yourself after a 10 hour workday is tough. Personal health and fitness took a real hit."
"Trying to clarify ambiguity in a sentence without using English."
"Maintaining an awareness of the 'real world' outside my study abroad location."
"Dealing with total communication breakdown situations."
"...balancing the need to apply myself to academics and my wish to explore my surroundings."
"...the smoking culture abroad."
"Motivating myself in the absence of outside motivation."
"Modifying my project as my interests and situations changed."
"Adapting to the professors."
"Organizing my time efficiently in order to maximize my experience."
"...being a vegetarian in France."
"...adjusting to the diet."
"Managing opposing views on a profound conflict."
"...communication with children."
"It was hard to get used to the diet, especially because I'm a vegetarian."
"...avoiding certain food/water because of the health risk."
"Dealing with some feelings of isolation and homesickness living on my own in a big foreign city."
"It was challenging to balance my studies and my unyielding desire to explore the foreign land around me."
"Finding a huge amount of inner strength I didn't know I had."
"How I immersed myself in the culture and tried to take advantage of every single opportunity."
"I felt like I was embracing a way of living that was rooted in the best parts of myself. I was doing what I loved with passion and dedication, which was fun, inspiring, and allowed me to form wonderful friendships along the way."
"Being able to hold my own in an argument in French."
"Being on National Television on Beijing Television Station for one of the biggest concerts of the year called Global Spring Festival Gala."
"...going abroad even though no one else I knew was."
"Balancing school work and traveling."
"Making friends with French students and developing fluency in French."
"...managing my budget responsibly."
"Being able to make foreign friends and connect with them virtually on the same level with people I speak to in English."
"Learning the theory and practice of the research I performed; being able to find my way around without feeling entirely lost."
"I fell in love with Kenya and brought that passion to my studies, and now am continuing to take Swahili in hopes to go back."
"...having an hour long conversation--all in Spanish--with my taxi driver on the way to the airport."
"I know I will be able to go back there with ease."
"Living in a foreign country without familial or personal contacts"
"Having had the opportunity to explore a country I didn't know at all and where I had no contacts and made many."
"My improved level of French."
"Living abroad in two countries in which I don't speak the native language."
"I am now fluent in Spanish."
"I made it and it was the best summer of my life."
"The quality and quantity of my data, and the independence, competence, and proactiveness I exhibited."
"Planning the internship and arranging my summer on my own."
"...my language improvement."
"I was able to overcome language barriers and collect a large volume of research data."
"...trying new things and being willing to go out and explore new places."
"Improving my Swahili by leaps and bounds."
"Not being scared of Chinese anymore."
"I learned a lot of the language. I didn't realize how much I learned until the beginning of L5 this year when we started reading more complicated things, and I actually understood a lot."
"Regaining some confidence in myself."
"...living alone abroad."
"...spending much quality time with my homestay siblings."
"My improvement with the language and my ability to live alone in a strange city for 10 weeks."
"I feel I made the most out of my trip. I saw everything possible, never turned down an opportunity for visits or program field trips, and I accepted my host country for what it was, which made adjusting to the culture a lot easier."
"Getting through a date entirely in Turkish."
"...not knowing one person in my program, and making life-long friends by the end of the program."
"...that I've made friends who do not speak English."
"My academic improvement."
"I am proud I was able to stick to my budget throughout my experience so that I could enjoy myself without going broke."
"My language acquisition and my ease in speaking Arabic."
"The many little ways I helped Iraqi refugees."
"Becoming so comfortable leading daily life in Zanzibar, and how well my Kiswahili progressed over the course of the semester."
"Effectively communicating with my host mother (who spoke no English) while living along with her."
"My language improvement."
"The independence and self-sufficiency that I realized while in Rome, and my ability to utilize my educational background and writing/reporting experience in a new context."
"...ability to read karaoke lyrics in Chinese."
"Finding a new program that a Yalie hadn't been on before."
"Respecting the local culture."
"Excelling in my internship."
"Earning the respect of my colleagues despite the language barrier."
"Being complimented on my accent."
"My learning to let go, to go with the flow, to problem-solve instead of worry all the time."
"Getting along with my host family."