The University of New Haven, with a student body of over 6,000 students, is nestled away in the beautiful suburban community of West Haven, Connecticut. The private, liberal arts university has been recognised as one of the best in the Northeast United States by The Princeton Review as it successfully fulfils its mission year after year to provide students with excellent higher level education through experiential, collaborative and discovery-based learning.

Learn more about the University of New Haven (UNH) through the eyes of Herlander Sousa from Angola and Taylor Darville from the Bahamas, both currently enrolled at the school.

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The Journey to New Haven: Herlander Sousa

Herlander Sousa is from Luanda, Angola and he is a junior at the University of New Haven studying Finance. Herlander attended school up to 9th grade in Luanda before transferring to New York Military Academy in upstate New York where he earned his high school diploma.

“My high school experience was very different from those who attended a public school or a regular private school,” Herlander noted. The school academic system in Africa differs greatly from that in the United States; so while his military school acclimatised him to the US academic system it also provided him with strict cadet training and added responsibilities other than school work. Herlander reflects, “We had responsibilities that regular high school students didn’t have – we had to focus on academics while also managing the military aspect of the school.”

Herlander always wanted to attend university in the United States due to its renowned excellence in education. So when his high school advisor spoke to him about UNH, he was very interested as it sounded like a place where he could study, live and grow. He adds that he particularly liked the fact that the UNH student/faculty ratio was low – 16:1 - which would enable professors to get to know each student personally.

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From the Bahamas to the United States: Taylor Darville

Taylor Darville, originally from Nassau, Bahamas, is 19-years old and a junior at the University of New Haven completing his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering. Prior to UNH, he attended private, Catholic educational institutions in Nassau that followed the GCSE Curriculum from Cambridge, England. Taylor was fortunate enough to obtain a scholarship from the Bahamas’ government to the University of New Haven and this propelled his decision to enrol at the university. It is useful to note that 89% of full-time students at UNH receive financial aid – a healthy and motivating figure to overseas students trying to organise funding for their higher education.

Taylor began his studies at UNH as an Environmental Studies major, but after a year he switched majors, as he believed that he had a better chance of pursuing this area of study in the long term with a solid background and knowledge of Civil Engineering.

Adjusting to a New Life in the USA

When Herlander first arrived in the US, he did not speak a word of English, so he knew life in this new place would be challenging till he learned the language. “I knew it was going to be hard, but not impossible, to overcome the language barrier,” he comments. He practiced English at every opportunity, even changing the language settings on his phone to encourage him to learn. He shares that the key to learning a new language was not to be ashamed of making a mistake.

Taylor, on the other hand, grew up in an English-speaking country. Though he did not encounter a language barrier, he did struggle with getting used to the intemperate weather conditions in the American Northeast. “One of the biggest obstacles for me in New Haven was most definitely the weather… it’s actually an on-going battle, so please wish me luck!” he quips.

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Finding Your Place at the University of New Haven

Academically, Taylor says he had little issues adjusting to UNH, however, adapting socially to the new country was initially challenging for him. He assures all incoming students that the vast majority of residents in New Haven and West Haven are kind and helpful, however he confesses to having met some people who have difficulty accepting things that are different or foreign to them. Having said this, however, he comments, “The UNH area is blessed with a diverse array of people and cultures.” This amalgamation means that students can find international restaurants and grocery stores to make them feel closer to home when struck by homesickness, which will – inevitably – come and go.

Herlander also agrees that the UNH community is very warm and welcoming, especially the faculty members and administration. “I just have to let the professors know that I have a question, and they are always more than happy to help me out,” he says appreciatively. The school also provides tutors on any subject and the staff at the International Student’s Office is very approachable. He informs us that UNH also has a programme called Scope, where trips and activities are regularly planned for the students to help them get to know the area and each other.

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Immersing Yourself on Campus

With 150 student organisations and clubs, you are sure to find something that interests you and helps you meet new people and practice new or old skills. Taylor joined a few extracurricular groups on campus, such as the Men’s Club Volleyball team where he enjoyed the camaraderie of practice sessions and travelling with his team members. Currently, he is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers at the university. Taking part in these clubs helped him to integrate with fellow engineering students and stay up to date with current events and issues in his field of interest.

Herlander is part of the Accounting Society at UNH and is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. “There are numerous opportunities available to students to help them integrate in the UNH community, you just have to find and take them!” he comments.

Both Herlander and Taylor are employed at UNH’s gymnasium, the largest employer of students on campus, where they encourage international students to apply for available positions. Taylor works as an intramural referee and Herlander works as a Fitness Attendant where he is responsible for maintaining a safe environment for everyone. These jobs keep them in touch with the student body and also allow them to earn some money in a flexible, supportive and convenient environment while studying to complete their degrees.

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Words of Advice

“The University of New Haven has many offices and departments that help students achieve their goals and succeed in all aspects of university life,” shares Herlander. At no point in your academic career should you feel alone in your struggles and decisions. Amongst other things, the school caters to its students by offering mentors to every first year student and there is also a Career Development Center that helps students with their resumes, as well as developing job interview skills.

Taylor advises potential students to thoroughly research UNH and any other prospective universities and academic programs. With proper research, students can assess which school is a right fit for them. UNH has very strong forensic, criminal justice, and engineering programs and these are the types of points to consider when applying to university.

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Learning Beyond Academics

“The University of New Haven has taught me how to interact with different types of people and it has challenged me to go one step further with everything that I do,” says Herlander.

Taylor adds, “As a Civil Engineering major, I have a lot of professors who were formerly working in the industry. These teachers were not shy with sharing their experiences and what the industry expected to see out of us upon graduation. With this knowledge, coupled with the innumerable life lessons I have learned living here on my own, I feel like UNH has played a huge part in helping me have an advantage on the competition after university.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the University of New Haven and its academic programs, visit its undergraduate or postgraduate profiles on SchoolApply and begin your application process now!