I decided to major in International Studies before deciding on a college. My only requirement for choosing a career—or by extension, a major— was that it had to allow me to travel. That wanderlust came to fruition in my junior year. I had planned on studying abroad in Hong Kong for two reasons: in order to fulfill my language requirements I had to take a foreign language abroad for two semesters and I had chosen East Asia as my regional concentration, thereby requiring it to be a place in which to study and travel. My reasoning was extremely logical and planned out but aside from that I kept my expectations low.
Living for two semesters in one city seems so long and entirely too short all at the same time. When I tried to answer questions about how I liked Hong Kong there were simply no words. There really is no way to accurately and eloquently sum up what it was like to assimilate into a culture that is so very different from your own. It is cheesy to say that I fell in love with the city, the country, the region, but that is essentially the only terminology that I can claim.
I fell in love with the language (harsh and jarring as it may seem), the people who push violently past you as they sprint to the subway, the food which is sometimes questionable but always edible. There is a love that being abroad allows you to develop in a way that only another foreign student can relate to. I could create an enthralling tale of that one time I got into a motorbike accident in Thailand, or almost got arrested in Vietnam, but they would not convey the experience I had abroad in quite the same way as one four-letter word.
I chose International Studies in search of a cure for my need to travel but when I look back on that year I spent abroad, I think that there is no real cure. I simply fueled the flames of this desire within me and I can only be grateful for Washington College and the IS department for creating that language requirement that allowed me to experience and love a city that I now can refer to as home.
- Concentrations: Peace and Conflict, Asia Studies and African Studies
- Languages: Learning Mandarin and French
- Study Abroad: Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, Hong Kong
- Internships: Non-profit organizations; Summer 2010 in Tanzania
Q & A
- Future plans? Kat has many plans for after college she will either participate in the Peace Corps, go on to grad school, or try to find a job that will pay for her to return to grad school.