By Claire Kalikman
Joseph Peck – Benjamin Franklin ‘21
From Plymouth, United Kingdom
Q: Why did you decide to leave your country for Yale?
A: I wanted a greater diversity of education. I think the UK education system is better, but this is more diverse, in the sense that in the UK you do one subject for three years, and here you do a bunch of things for four years. I also like the connections available at American universities – in terms of business and friends. The American system provides a better environment to establish relationships.
Q: What’s been the hardest cultural adjustment?
A: Americans are very confident and outgoing. They also take advantage of every opportunity and are not afraid to ask questions. It takes a little while when you first get here to overcome that British reserve. But it’s easier now.
Q: What do you miss most about your country?
A: If I meet a British person, I can naturally get along. I’m never conscious that I’m with Americans, but it’s so much easier if I’m speaking with a British person. I didn’t expect the cultural difference to be quite as large, but there’s a difference in style between British and American people.
And drinking under 21….
Q: What’s the most unexpected thing about living in the United States?
A: It’s quite hard to tell because I don’t know what characteristic of America and what’s characteristic of Yale. Yale is not the quintessential American experience. Being at an institution at Yale, I’m also surprised at the lack of debate of economic issues about anything that doesn’t have to do with identity politics. If you’re having a debate here, it’s generally about simple issues like the value of free health care or gun control, not how to fund health care, or about a standard living income. I expected people here to be having more robust political debates, given how intelligent everybody is.
Q: What’s one aspect of your country the United States should adopt?
A: Three words. Simple political reason.
Q: What’s something your country could learn from the United States?
A: [Long pause] Cornbread.
Q: What’s something most people don’t know about your country?
A: We’re not all rich. There is an entrenched class system, and people suffer. And as a more general point, not all international students are rich. Especially if you’re from Britain, and you have the accent, and you dress nicely, people assume things about you. But international students are on similar levels of financial aid as American students, and really aren’t that different.
Claire Kalikman ’21 is in Morse College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.