2014-15 Europeans in the USA

Just a Glimpse: The Tale of Living not Visiting


While this is my second blog entry, it feels very much like the first. In part, due to the simple enormity of the United States and the richness of my experience here, in part, due to the academic and professional opportunities of which I feel I have not yet grasped enough, and finally, in part due to my move from Rutgers to Yale in January.

I also feel a bit conflicted about whether or not it is time to return back to Italy already. On the one hand, I greatly miss my fiancé, my family and friends, and the Italian weather that I appreciate much more due to the cold, wind and snow we lived through here, on the East Coast. On the other hand, I feel that now (after four months here) I am finally living and not just visiting. I have amazingly inspiring people surrounding me here, I have my own coffee shop I go to, I have my favourite places to shop and I have overall discovered the (sometimes hidden) gems of New Haven.

Because my time here is running out, I wanted to share what a typical day at Yale and New Haven looks like for me, a visiting PhD researcher at Yale Law School:
I live in the area of town called “Little Italy” that, besides being home for many Yale graduate students, hosts some lovely Italian places, including famous Frank Pepe’s pizza. This brings in a slight Italian note in my daily life reminding me of Florence.


My morning usually involves a short breakfast and then either a walk or a short shuttle ride to the Law School. Yale Shuttle service is honestly the best I have ever not just seen but imagined (it is basically like having a taxi service for free). On my way to school I will normally grab coffee in a coffee shop on Wall Street. The coffee thing feels very American to me here, since in Italy (and in Latvia) the coffee-drinking traditions differ greatly. Here, one almost feels out of place without a huge Latte in hand.

Finally I reach Yale Law School – one of those incredibly cosy and inviting places with one of the most beautiful libraries I have had the pleasure to work in. That is where I spend most of my day, trying to write some chapters for my thesis, doing my readings and carrying out my research assistant duties. Often my morning will involve a meeting with a professor or another grad student working in my field. For lunch I usually meet up with the other visiting researchers in cafeteria or attend one of the very many lunchtime discussion/seminar options that always include a free meal as well!

Basically, if one would have time, one could spend all day at Yale attending various equally brilliant speakers addressing captivating topics. Particular about Yale Law School is its emphasis on the zane3informality and on the discussion (everyone has read the paper and prepared to discuss it and the speaker is allowed to speak for no more than five minutes before the discussion starts). This Yale-method creates a lively exchange of opinions and without failure provokes a captivating debate to a level that is certainly not the norm in other universities I have been before.

I am auditing two seminars this term: Law and Globalization and Comparative Constitutional Law. The seminars are also based on a previously done reading and start with a short introduction from either the professor or that day’s speaker, continue with discussion of response papers written each time by different students and transforms into debate on the readings by all of participants. Without re-instating the outstanding greatness of Yale Law School, I feel I still have to comment on the sheer brilliance of all the students here and the depth of the discussions in class. After class I would normally return to the library for some more hours (active work in the library normally does not end before midnight here), try to go to the one of World’s biggest gyms1 and finish my day with dinner either at some place in New Haven or at home.

This is how my average day looks like here. And while in the beginning I felt a bit like a deer in the headlights (I could not find a more apt description) due to the vast amount of opportunities, experiences, brilliance and intensity Yale Law School brings to one’s academic experience, now I feel more like I am living and breathing Yale, the academically very best what this country has to offer.

Zane Rasnača
PhD Researcher
European University Institute
Visiting Fulbright-Schuman researcher
Yale Law School