On the way to chasing my dream

By Chin (Val) Chou
I graduated from the Master of Arts in International Relations and Affairs program in (MAIR) University of Dan Diego. There are many improvements and changes in me that I believe it would be interesting to recall why I made the decision for study abroad. When I was an Arabic major in college, I was fearless and had a strong desire to learn more about this world. Diplomacy became my minor when I was sophomore student. At that time, my goal was not clear, because I have no clear ideas of what I am going to pursue in the future. Although there was only one Arabic department in Taiwan, I choose it as the start of my international affairs interest. Language and religion are essential elements to understand one culture. Indulging in Arabic and Islamic culture lectures provided me with a novel way to discuss international issues related to terrorism or even revolutions happening in the Middle East.
My original plan was to become a diplomat after I graduate from the master program, taking advantage of my combined with Islamic expertise and international relations background. Instead, I now hope I could work for NGOs to acquire experience before I go back to Taiwan. I grew up in Taiwan, a place makes people feel comfortable with living condition and feel no pressure to leave. After I graduated from college, I decided to achieve my dream and pursue a master degree in the United States.
The two years in the MAIR program have been the most challenging and interesting years in my academic life. I have never thought that studying abroad could be inspiring mentally and intellectually. I was shocked due to the huge difference of the education system in the United States compared with Asia, and realized that I had a lot to learn to overcome cultural shock and differences. The learning process became more active when compared with the passive learning in Asia, and I really enjoy the academic atmosphere on campus in USD.
My first semester was a brand new beginning in many aspects. It was much more difficult than I had predicted. There’s frequently a Language barrier. The Regional Security and International Relations Theories have been the foundation of my political science studies. I can apply the contents of international relations theories to the real world after graduating. It provides a great analytical approach to apply to variety of regimes on the world. Regional security was the important transitional course to help me connect the contents that I will learn in the following semesters in the program. The information in the classes and the readings helped me catch up with the current security issues that had taken place in many regions. From the Fukushima accident to the Mexico drug cartels, it involves abundant and sufficient information to broaden my view in a geopolitical way.
In order to complete my goal to understand international affairs around the world, I would like to choose diverse courses which provide me with different dimension. The academic training is practical and inspiring for my future career because of the significant improvement of communication and research skills. All the courses I have taken on different subjects, but connect tightly. I spent much of my first semester searching for my way and approach to studying the International Affairs field. I have learned and improved in many ways from the MAIR program, and the process of pursuing success in the program has equipped me with a stronger mind and personality.

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