Where to Study Abroad When You’re Studying American Culture?

Hannah Wallach


September 26th, 2018

I’ve always envisioned myself studying abroad during college, but when the time came to do so, I wasn’t sure where made the most sense for my interests and career path. As an AMCS major, I’m primarily interested in domestic issues, especially those pertaining to culture, civil rights, and minority groups. I considered travelling to a country where I could analyze civil and human rights transnationally, but this option felt too disconnected from my studies of American movements and people. Further, as a pre-law student, studying legal issues abroad would be fascinating but less directly relevant to future pursuits.

Then, I learned about the Washington Semester Program, a chance to “study away” in our nation’s capital through American University. I was so excited—the program was a perfect fit! I had the opportunity to intern three full days a week in D.C. and participate in an immersive seminar two full days a week on American Politics/Government.

I secured an internship at the US Department of Justice, Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division, which was the most amazing experience. Whereas I would have learned about something tied only loosely to my interests and professional pursuits if I studied internationally, at the DOJ/DRS I learned about the population and area of the law about which I am most passionate: disability rights law. I had the opportunity to network in my field and work alongside brilliant, passionate civil rights lawyers. I also cemented my decision to pursue law school and my aspiration to practice public interest law at the national level.

My American Politics seminar went hand in hand with my very reasons for becoming an AMCS major. Through my undergraduate studies, I hope to learn about culture and social issues and movements to best equip myself for a life dedicated to the pursuit of social equity. The seminar provided insight into how governmental institutions operate and how political dialogues play out—in other words, knowledge of present day systems of oppression, from which such social issues and movements emerge.

Ultimately, I enjoyed a fast-paced, invigorating semester in D.C., in which I connected with passionate, driven peers and professionals. I felt a sense of purpose in everything I did, and I developed a vision of where I want to end up in the future. I would wholeheartedly recommend a semester in D.C. to any AMCS major; you can apply to intern anywhere you want, as well as take a seminar in American Politics, Law and Justice, Foreign Policy, Journalism and New Media, Sustainable Development, and more. You will learn so much about yourself, your future, and the country in the classroom, at your office, and even on the metro! Look forward to a whirlwind, life-changing semester.

Highlight of the semester--I got to meet and hear from Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL-4), a fierce advocate for marginalized populations. I'm pictured to his immediate left!

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