Studying Global Studies (Is She Allowed to Do That?)


When I first heard about the intern position at the Center for Global Studies, I was immediately drawn to apply.  I love globes.  I like studies.  And I have never had a bad thing to say about a center.

Buckle up, the bad jokes are only beginning.

In all seriousness, I was somewhat familiar with the Center’s involvement on campus, as an organizer of lectures and events, but I had no idea of the true extent of CGS’s work on and off campus until I began to research and browse the website.  I was drawn to apply as I have begun to cast around for possible and practical uses for the International Politics degree that I am working towards.  I have only recently landed in the major, and already I am fond of the reasonable yet haunting query of, “What are you going to do with that?”  Well, hypothetical voice of the masses, I am not sure; but I am exploring my options!LONDONSpring2012 098.JPG

Even as I flounder among academic departments, though, ‘global studies’ have always been an interest of mine.  I only took my first trip outside of the U.S. last year–a course trip  to London that resulted in such photographic gems as that above–but my interest in other cultures and travel spans back to some misguided childhood career plans (be Indiana Jones…or perhaps his female cousin with similar job description, Iowa).  Indiana-Jones-200x300.jpgStudying abroad has been on the to-do list since high school, but has only recently begun to seem probable.  In any case, now, as I work in the Burrowes office and throughout State College for CGS, I am beginning to see that possibility become an exciting and intimidating reality.

Assuming all goes well–and I certainly run the risk of ‘jinxing’ myself–I will be spending the upcoming fall semester in Santiago, Chile.  Despite over ten years of Spanish instruction, I still expect to be this guy.  I like to think that enthusiasm counts for something, though.  As a Penn State student studying with CIEE, I would be taking classes at the CIEE center, as well as a local university like Universidad de Chile or Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.

Interestingly enough, some of my work at CGS has involved researching connections among Penn State and international universities.  I have thus been able to take a very summary and shallow peek at the planning involved in organizing such connections–an intimidating pile of paperwork in its own right.  Before even being able to consider making connections, must gain support at his or her home university, hope to generate interest at the destination university, and begin the conversation.  If a relationship can be established, it could take several of many forms, including student and faculty exchange, study abroad which seems to equate to simpler temporary enrollment, sharing or research, special programs, and any number of variations as may be laid out in a memorandum of understanding.  Santiago_winter.jpg

The program in which I will be participating seems to be different from what I have researched for the Center, as it uses a middle man; but as far as I can tell, the good reputation of CIEE and its broad involvement across the globe is likely to smooth the logistics of the study abroad process for students looking to travel to a location where their home school may have no previous connection.

Other than questions of process, which I will admit often evade my comprehension, it is interesting to compare global studies here at Penn State to the vastly different kind of international experience of actually traveling to a foreign country.  I picture it kind of like the difference between tasting a bowl of soup and swimming in it.  A swimming pool would probably be the more appropriate metaphor.  (Did you know that Chile is home to the world’s largest swimming pool, at approximately 19.77 acres?)  In a strange way, I look forward to taking notes and continuing the comparison until the end of my time with CGS, and perhaps until the end of my time abroad (fingers crossed!).


Updates will be forthcoming!  Speaking of fingers, we can talk about how disappointed I was that ink is no longer used in fingerprinting at police stations, and probably hasn’t been for years.

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