Monday, August 30, 2010

Matriculation Ceremony

Matriculation at Yale was simply splendid. It started off with a breakfast at HGS courtyard, where the chance to mingle was presented (always the case). So, I got to meet up with Roy and Ra, know a couple of more people, notably CT, another fellow Singaporean, from Oxford, studying East Asian studies. Apparently, he is also XL's teacher/sis friend. Talk about coincidence =) Then we proceeded to Sprague Hall at the School of Music, named after Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, supposedly one of the best music halls in North America. In any case, we were welcomed by a live band playing in the background, followed by the professors, deans coming in and giving a speech. President Levin gave a speech. Our new Graduate School dean is instated today as well: Sterling Professor Thomas D. Pollard, also a Biological and Biomedical Sciences professor. A graduate a capella group - The Citations - performed for us, showing the all-rounded development of Yale graduate students; they come from an ecletic range of faculties and concentrations. They sing really well. M says Yale has some of the best a capella groups in North America, and especially the undergraduate ones; forgot which. But the graduate one seemed good already. Then we had a tea reception at President Levin's non-residential house, more for important social events. They have a huge courtyard as well, and his wife and him and Prof Pollard and his wife were also there to shake our hands. The tea reception was in conjunction with the signing of a book, supposedly a tradition from the ancient days (150 years ago), ever since Yale conferred the first ever phD in North America... That is the original book, with the names of those that had already "gone down in history". Just one week in New Haven, I have come to realize that Yale holds very strong traditional and cultural values. While she prides herself as one of the most prestigious universities in the modern world, she anchors herself with these traditions to keep her feet on the ground. However, while I do like the geniality of the people at Yale and New Haven and their willingness to help and the extensive measures Yale have put in place for their students, faculties and employees, I do have reservations for the crime rate, bureacracy and inefficiency that seemed to plague here, and, I have heard, also to a lot of places in the US. Hailing from Singapore, where organization, security, efficiency and convenience are of the essence, I have a lot to adapt indeed...

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