I started college at UW Madison with no idea what I was doing or where I was going. All I knew was that I based my entire college application on how much I loved the first time I ever travelled outside of the U.S. on a t10 day Spanish trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua during high school.
Once at UW-Madison, I was overwhelmed with everything about my new reality. I had to learn how to properly use crosswalks, buy groceries myself, find my way around campus— AND I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life! I struggled through an introductory philosophy course and a few other random general education credits. However, I began to like the options I had. There existed what seemed like an unlimited variety of classes. As I went through sociology, geography, history, communication arts and more, I decided that this was the type of schooling I enjoyed – not an expert on anything, but knowledgeable about everything. My dad used to joke that I should sign up for “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” I enjoyed the classes I took, but I started to get worried that all I was doing was expanding my sphere of trivia show knowledge – until I discovered the International Studies Department.
International Studies was the perfect fit for me because I have always enjoyed learning about other countries and cultures. I had always yearned to travel more, if not physically then at least through lessons in the classroom. International Studies is a unique, interdepartmental major that allowed me to continue exploring different courses, subjects and departments all while working towards a cohesive degree. I took classes that covered topics like Russian literature, Mexico-US labor relations, journalism, African geography, wildlife ecology, European history and photography/digital studies. I was able to pursue so many subjects, meet so many peers and connect to so many different professors, all while maintaining a global focus, which spurred me to study abroad not once, but twice. I even graduated with a double major and a certificate in three and a half years.
And what is this International Studies alum doing now? I am continuing to pursue global citizenship through UW Madison’s MS in Global Higher Education so that I can help future students do the same.