We next check in with first-year MALD Victoria, who had a busy first semester and “typical” Fletcher winter break involving lots of travel, as well as Scuba certification. Like I said, typical.
Welcome to 2020 and the end of our winter break! Wooo *throws confetti and tears*
But in all seriousness, if I had $1 for each time someone asked me “what are you going to do after you graduate?” I would be well on my way to paying back student loans.
Alright, alright, in true honesty, here’s a reflection of my first semester at Fletcher and hopefully, some semblance of an answer to the questions and end-of-year reflections.
For me, the end of 2019 has been a culmination of the last three years of work experience and finding new connections to my academic work that I was previously unaware of. It’s also learning that being back in school is not just an opportunity to study but intellectually recharge in ways that isn’t always possible in the workplace. While working, any learning is often done so that it can be directly applied, while at school, sometimes it’s challenging myself to take a class in a topic I otherwise would not have the opportunity to explore or learn how certain topics tangentially relate back to work and/or future goals. The results have been exciting even if I still have a hard time explaining to my family or family friends who ask “so what are you going to do with a law and diplomacy degree after you graduate?”
It’s hard to explain how what I am learning is useful. But I participated in SIMULEX and played the role of an Intelligence Lead for the USA and experienced what it may be like to gather information and find the best ways to communicate and inform effectively. I survived classes I worried I would not do well in, such as Processes of International Negotiations, and learned the importance of preparing ahead of time whenever possible and various ways to “expand the pie” – a useful skill no matter what kind of role I may have. I also had the honor being part of the only group in that class to negotiate a deal by the end of the final joint negotiation simulation encompassing all three class sections.
I realized that “International Communications” is one of the broadest umbrella terms possible for a field with so many intricacies and potential directions. But for my final paper I got to explore a topic that has been on my mind all year, which is exciting and terrifying because it’s like confronting a monster you also have deep reverence for.
I’ve participated in Fiesta Latina with a few other friends and managed to pull together a BAMF Reggaeton performance under the fearless leadership of my amazing classmate Meaghan. I became friends with Januarians, and was not ready to be separated after only one semester in their holy presence. I’ve helped organize a very “Chinese Thanksgiving” by replacing turkey with Peking duck and stuffing with dumpling making (complete from scratch, courtesy of yours truly and 2nd-year students Haylee and Austin; for all the supplies and the space, see image I took of our diligent students and friends at work).
Maybe my path is not as clear cut as it would look for someone in law/medicine/business school, but that’s also part of the beauty of going to school for international affairs. We have the freedom to shape our learning to be what we want it to be, to learn soft skills that can be applied in many fields and choose the hard skills we want or need to build (hello Intro to Finance & Accounting next Fall 2020. I am already terrified of you, but you’re useful and I need you so looking forward to our future strategic alliance).
Now that I’ve thought about the year, here’s a bit about winter break. Like a typical Fletcher busybody, I had a whirlwind winter break. First, visiting family in Los Angeles for Christmas and more family in Shanghai for the New Year, with a stop in the Philippines to get PADI Scuba Diving certified. What has been most intriguing for me about diving is not just the new ability to go deep into the waters to observe marine life, and visit nature’s wonders and shipwrecks, it’s also realizing that core to the sport is the ability to breathe. Long, luxurious, and slow breaths. It’s essentially a version of being zen for those who crave adventure and risk, because if anything happens underwater you better be prepared to deal with it. Calmly. Because anything less than calm can be harmful.
Diving is like going to grad school. You can’t hold your breath under water or your lungs might explode – just like how we might feel moments before receiving our grades after each assignment or when staring at SIS to update with our GPA. Going on a night dive is terrifying because even though you’re there with your fellow divers, any time you are not in the light, you’re staring into a dark void. This is like opening an exam and realizing how under-prepared we are, or regretting we said we knew that foreign language and your internship/job interviewer decides to conduct your interview in said language. Even if you prepared with your friends, in that moment, it is a deeply dark moment of self-examination. *badumchhhh*
But enough of my bad jokes, I hope everyone had a restful break and look forward to seeing everyone soon.
Peace, Love & Power,