February 08th 2022

From Innsbruck to Yale: A unique academic year abroad

Johannes Sieberer received the popular Marshall Plan Scholarship, which allows him to work, research and study at Yale University for an academic year. He tells us about his life at Yale and his promising future there.

I am writing these lines while sitting at Newark Airport, NYC in the United States, minutes before boarding my first flight back home after the first six months of my study trip to Yale University in Connecticut. A perfect moment to reflect on the experience so far:

Since August, I have been working/researching at the Yale Center for Collaborative Arts and Media (CCAM). CCAM is where all disciplines (e.g., Engineering, Arts, Medicine) come together to provide their unique insights and skills. In this environment, I am doing my thesis research in virtual reality and additionally supporting students, faculty, and staff with their projects due to my position in the blended reality lab or as a teaching assistant to the principal investigator. Especially the feedback of artists proved fruitful in bringing nuance in the linear thinking process of an engineer.

Of course, studying abroad is not only about academics. I am finding new friends, forging meaningful connections, experiencing various cultures, and making the occasional trip to the surrounding cities/landmarks. For example, New Haven is about two hours away from New York and four hours from Boston. The first visit enabled a spontaneous meeting with President Van der Bellen, the second a weekend visit to Harvard and MIT. Social life at colleges is heavily focused on club activities, allowing for quickly connecting with other students; I found my home at the Yale Powerlifting club, getting to know people worldwide. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this journey so far.

I would recommend everyone who has the chance to make such a trip to do it. It is amazing. I will be in New Haven for at least another five months and probably another five years for a PhD I hope it will be as fruitful as the first six months.


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A spontaneous meeting with the President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen in New York. ©Sieberer