I recently decided to double-major in International Studies at my university because I figured I may as well take my interest in learning about different cultures and countries and turn it into a degree.
I’ve been interested in international studies for since high school, where I was severely disappointed with the lack of globally-focused classes I took as part of the International Baccalaureate Program (it’s International, ya’ll). My World History class was a joke. My American History class focused on World War I, World War II, and the Cold War from the perspective of only… guess who? America.
There was a world out there, and I wanted to learn about it. About the many different cultures, languages, and traditions of its people. Of the way international organizations like the UN, NATO, and the World Bank operated. And what I could do to get involved and make a lasting impact.
Can I help construct foreign policy? Respond to international crises? Promote cross-cultural connections and understanding between peoples with different religions, governments, and values? I don’t know, but I’d sure like to. With a major in International Studies, I take classes about the politics of the global economy, U.S. and world affairs, international institutions, and even the correlation between gender and international relations. Reading the works of great IR thinkers, writing thoughtful papers that apply theoretical and abstract concepts to real-world events, and discussing all of this in class with experienced teachers and other passionate students? Just thinking about it makes me tingle with pleasure.
But what can I do with this love of all things international? Surely, all you can be is an academic or a professor? Well, my friends, I have researched this as well. Not only are there amazing graduate programs in International Relations/Foreign Affairs/Public Policy, what have you, but there are fellowships that will pay for me to go study what I already love! And then, I can apply for a job in the U.S. Department of State, primarily as a Foreign Service Officer, traveling around the world to different embassies and promoting U.S. policies abroad.
Nevertheless, no matter where this degree takes me, I’ll know that I’m doing what I love to do most: learn, learn, learn.