For the past three months, I have been studying abroad with American University’s “European Union in Action” Program in Brussels, Belgium. As a senior in AU’s School of International Service (SIS) focusing on U.S. foreign policy and Europe, this program’s combination of intensive study of the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), internship experience, and travel across Europe is a dream come true.
In this incredible study abroad program, we focus primarily on studying the EU’s government, politics, economics and foreign policy. As the de-facto capital of the EU and home to its most important institutions, Brussels is the perfect city in which to study the exciting and fast-developing theme that is European political and economic integration. We have been fortunate enough to visit and meet with officials within the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, two of the EU’s most important institutions.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the program is its extensive opportunities for travel across Europe. With the program, we have traveled to Luxembourg and The Hague, Netherlands to visit EU and other international institutions, including attending the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Additionally, we recently returned from a ten-day trip through the Balkans with stops in Belgrade, Serbia; Srebenica and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina; as well as Zagreb, Croatia in order to study the history of the 1990s wars in the Former Yugoslavia and learn about actions that the EU is taking to rebuild and integrate the region.
Additionally, Brussels’ central location within Europe makes personal travel across the continent extremely easy. With the combination of academic and personal travel, I have personally had the opportunity to visit fifteen countries over the past few months. (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom). In fact, I am currently writing this blog post from Paris, France (1.5 hours by train from Brussels or 3 by bus)!
While I am obviously personally biased toward AU’s Brussels program, we offer over 100 study abroad options across the globe. In fact, over sixty percent of AU undergraduates study abroad at some point during their undergraduate career. So, if studying abroad is on your agenda for college, definitely consider American University!
- Nick Blake, SIS ’14
During my first semester at AU, I have been able to participate and witness some cool events both on and off campus. But one of my favorite events, thus far, has been Anderson Cooper receiving the WONK of the Year Award. This event is a when the AU community nominates a person of distinction who embodies the characteristics of a Wonk. And once they accept the award, American University invites them to come during All-American Weekend and speak to the AU community (last year’s winner was Bill Clinton). We don’t fool around here at AU!
I am and have been a fan of the CNN journalist for many years. The fact that I was able to see him speak about his career and life experiences overall was a dream come true. It was everything I wished for and more. Cooper appealed to the crowed by talking about both enlightening and serious key moments of his career. He shared everything, from the time he grabbed a camera and ventured into a war zone by himself, all for the sake of hopefully coming out with a compelling story that would land him a journalism gig, to gossip about his mother’s romantic life.
While he shared his speech and answered question created by members of the AU community, which included moderator Professor Jane Hall from the School of Communications, the crowd was able to laugh at his infectious humorous lines and remain silent during the moments of terror that he shared when it came to the earlier part of his career.
He concluded his speech with advice for us as students: for all majors, he encouraged us to do internships to figure out what jobs and companies we like; for journalism majors, he advised us to “write and write and write. Learn to write in your own voice.” His final piece of advice, for everyone, was to always out-hustle everyone around you.
It was an event that I will never forget. We’ll have to wait and see till Fall 2014 who the 3rd WONK of Year will be!
On Monday, I had an exciting D.C. experience.
A friend who is here at AU from China on a Fulbright Scholarship invited me to go with him and some of the other D.C. Fulbrights for an exclusive tour of CNN! The tour, which lasted from 4:45 till around 7:30, was extremely informational; I learned about the Network’s production process and was able to watch some of the shows being filmed live from the studio.
The best part of the tour, though, was when our guide suddenly told us that as soon as the next commercial break began, we would be going into The Situation Room with Wolfe Blitzer. We were all a little star-struck at first. Wolfe was happy to have us sit in on his show as he reported live, and as soon as the show ended he offered to take a photo with all of us. I was able to shake his hand and continue on the tour of the building! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see some of the action behind the scenes. It was such a fun experience!
The Quad is so beautiful right now with all of the leaves changing colors! It’s definitely looking and feeling like fall at AU.
As one of the Public Health Scholars currently studying abroad in Nairobi, I find myself overwhelmed by the incredible experiences I am having here in Nairobi! I have lived here for a little over a month, going to school at the University of Nairobi School of Public Health, interning at WEMA Maternity Hospital and Nursing Home four times a week, and then exploring what Kenya has to offer in my spare time!
Last weekend, several friends and I went out to Hells’ Gate in Lake Naivasha for the weekend. We camped for two nights (which included my best friend’s birthday!) and stayed for three days. We arrived on Friday, settled in late and made a HUGE bonfire that was absolutely wonderful, as it gets really cold here when the sun goes down. Saturday morning, we got up early and rented mountain bikes. We biked the 5 km to the Hells’ Gate sign and then another 2 km to the actual gate. After paying to get in, we biked approximately 13 km with zebras, elon, antelopes, warthogs, and lots of other animals! We also got to see Pride Rock!!! (you know, the one from Lion King?)
As we biked, the scenery all around us was simply stunning. It felt like the Africa I had always dreamed of, untouched, hot, beautiful, and wild. Its often difficult to reconcile our expectations of Africa with the reality here: Nairobi is a busy, dirty, fully-functioning city with many slums, huge issues with poverty and health, but the most wonderful food and people. Going to Hells’ Gate was a refreshing return to clean air, animals, and the outdoors! We then arrived at the Gorge, and hiked through some tunnels created by erosion! It was all very cool, but a little trying, as I’m not a huge climber or outdoorsy kind of girl
We struggled all the way back and then settled in to celebrate my friend’s birthday on Saturday night. Her family treated us to a dinner at this lovely restaurant, where they had American-style food! It was awesome because I was craving that hardcore after a long day of biking and hiking!
Sunday we went boating on Lake Naivasha and saw lots and lots of Hippos! I’ve never seen a hippo in the wild before – they are absolutely HUGE!!! Apparently, hippos are the most dangerous creatures in Africa and tourists have to be very careful not to go out at night around large bodies of water, as hippos are incredibly territorial!
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I am perfectly tanned now! I’ll keep you updated on my adventures in Africa as an AU student, but keep on the lookout for pictures and stories from our safari next week! Check out some pictures below of my trip to Hell and back!
Last weekend a group of friends and I decided that we needed to take a break from paper-writing and studying for midterms by enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We headed down to Georgetown and rented kayaks from the Key Bridge Boathouse. From our kayaks we got to see some of DC’s beautiful and historic sites including the Washington Monument, the Georgetown Waterfront, the Watergate Hotel, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. We also had a great up-close view of the Annual Potomac Regatta! It was a really fun way to spend a couple hours being active and enjoying the outdoors. See some of our photos of the kayaking trip below!
When family comes to visit, it’s the perfect excuse to go exploring! Maybe hit up those places you might not have been able to afford with just your college buds. When my family came to visit DC for the first time in many years, I took them to the US National Arboretum for the last weekend of the Bonsai workshop.
Since my study abroad last semester in Japan, I’ve been missing some of the Asian style gardens that I frequented while I was in Kyoto. The Bonsai Garden was the perfect cure! We also went to several other gardens, including the Asian Collections so I felt almost like I was back in Japan!
I also got to see the original columns from the Capital which were stoically placed at the top of a hill and just made me feel like I had stepped into Rome!
It was a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather we’ve had recently here in DC and get some nature in my life. DC is the perfect mix of city and nature so that you’re never too far from one or the other!
Check out some of my pictures from the trip!
It’s amazing how you can be so unaware of what amazing things go on right next door.
Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to tour NBC Washington, the television station just down the street from campus on Nebraska Ave. I’ve walked past it multiple times almost every day for over a year now and never realized what goes on there.
This semester I work as an Honors 101 mentor, a special program through the Honors Program that connects freshmen honors students with an older honors student. Every Wednesday for their first semester, I take my group of 10 to some sort of event either on campus or off.
With the help of Honors and the School of Communication, I was able to organize a tour of NBC for my group.
Matthew Glassman, an SOC professor who also works in the news department, gave us a personal tour. Our first stop was the set of “Meet the Press.” I had no idea that the show was filmed just a 5 minute walk away from campus.
We were then brought into the newsroom and saw everyone working. I noticed one woman had 5 Emmy’s sitting on her desk as paperweights. Casual.
Next, we got to watch the actual 4 o’clock broadcast in the studio. The amazing thing about it is that besides the two anchors, there was only one other person in the studio: a man operating the teleprompter. There were no camera operators; the cameras were all robotic and didn’t require any people to physically operate them. Once it went to commercial break, we were taken into the control room to watch the other side of how the news happens.
It was fascinating to watch how much goes into a news broadcast. The control room is exactly how you picture it with dozens of television screens and computers and people shouting orders and directions. Very intense.
Prof. Glassman graduated from AU in 1992 from the School of Communication. While a student here, he interned at NBC. Now he has been working there for over 14 years. It’s very reassuring to hear success stories like that where an internship turns into a career.
We were not able to go see other studios because Chris Matthews was filming “Hardball” upstairs and it was a closed set. But hey, I was in the same building as Chris Matthews.
NBC Washington was home to the first episode of the Muppets and is now home to several other programs, such as Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell.
This morning American University students were met with a pleasant surprise when walking to their morning classes: a zip line on the Quad! Student government sponsored this fun activity as a part of the annual Artemus Ward Week, a celebration for the Revolutionary War General who’s statue resides near campus. Throughout the week, AU Student Government has put on several events including speaker Ezra Klein!
Lots of students came out to ride the zip line between their classes. It just goes to show that there is always something fun and different going on around campus!
That’s me riding down the zip line!