Fellowships at Yale: Part 1—What is a fellowship?

Great Wall of China

Prepare to enter THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS—mom, if you’re reading this, unfortunately, no that is not a reference to the senior class ring, which I promise I will totally order tomorrow ;). For everyone who’s not my mom, that sick pun and its accompanying even sicker side-story is an introduction to this three-part series on Fellowships at Yale!

The summer after my first year, I received a Yale fellowship for two-months of immersive language study in Beijing, and I had a truly wonderful time. Over the course of the next three posts, I will be talking all about fellowships—what they are, how you apply, and what it’s like to partake in one!

Group Picture Chinese Gold Roof

When I first got into Yale, I attended an awesome talk about all of Yale’s different fellowship and study abroad opportunities—let me just say that powerpoint was PACKED. They covered everything from marine biology in the tropics to film production classes in Prague. But I was most interested in the fellowships that supported Chinese language study abroad! So when my Chinese teacher told us one day first year that Yale offered a VERY comprehensive fellowship (called the Light Fellowship) for East Asian Languages, I knew I had to apply.

My only question: What exactly………. is a fellowship?

Honestly, as far as I can tell, nobody really knows what exactly a fellowship is. So don’t be confused if it sounds a little vague or if you’ve heard it but always been a bit afraid of what to ask. After talking to some of my friends—many of whom have participated in various fellowships over the years—we’ve concluded that part of the reason it’s so hard to settle in on a definition, is because there are so many different types of fellowships.

There are arts fellowships, research fellowships, foreign language study fellowships, public service fellowships. You name it, Yale’s got it.

You can spend a semester researching at the London School of Economics, a year studying Korean in Seoul, or—no AND—a summer exploring the museums, art, and culture of Rome.

What’s the one thing just about all of these fellowships have in common, though? Moola!

SUPER broadly speaking, a fellowship is money and/or resources given to you by an institution (such as Yale) to support you in research or some other endeavor. Basically, it’s money to do things!

I soon learned that the Light Fellowship covered everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. International flights, the educational program costs, housing, taxi rides around the city. Even our toothpaste!

Photo at Chinese Park

“These sound, so cool, Alec (as do you)! But how do I apply to this wonderful opportunity?” That’s an excellent question, readerly voice in my head, one that I will answer in the next segment of Fellowships at Yale!