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IES Abroad: European Union
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Alice Greider

Major: International Politics, Global and International Studies
Minor: French, History
Hometown: Elizabethtown, PA
Paterno Fellow 

How did you learn about this opportunity?

During the annual Penn State Education Abroad Fair my freshman year I was looking for a program concentrating on International Relations. After talking with staffers at a few of the booths, I found IES' program focused on the EU and offered an internship component during the time abroad. I used their website and brochures to help me make the decision to go with the program.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My semester has been entirely focused on the EU and Europe in general. While the program also offers more economic coursework, my classes are primarily focused on international relations, with specific classes on the structure and history of the EU, EU foreign policy, migration and multiculturalism, and global leadership. The program is located in Freiburg, Germany, so I also am taking a class in German. The location is ideal for travel, which IES takes full advantage of to incorporate 22 days of field study trips into the curriculum. Our first trip was to Berlin and Prague and focused on the history of EU integration. The second highlighted EU Institutions and took place in Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris. The third was themed around regions of Europe and the group separated into trips to different member states; Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Southeastern Europe. We've also had a few shorter day trips to nearby Strasbourg, Geneva, a refugee camp in Freiburg, and the Black Forest. I live in the University of Freiburg's student housing with other German and international students in shared apartments and have enjoyed talking with my flatmates about German schooling and politics.

The location is ideal for travel, which IES takes full advantage of to incorporate 22 days of field study trips into the curriculum.

How did this experience impact you academically?

All of my classes correlate directly to my coursework back at Penn State and to my interests. It's incredibly enriching to be able to learn from professors who study European politics specifically, as that is much more difficult at home. In each lesson I gain more insights about European integration theoretically, and during meetings with think tanks or government workers on our field trips I see the difficulties Europe faces in practice. Each of my classes is so heavily in depth that we now easily know more than any average European. It's made me realize that I certainly want to specialize in European comparative politics

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I hope to work for the State Department, UN, a think-tank, or appropriately enough, the European Union. This experience is giving me a close up, critical view of the EU, in particular its deficiencies. Using knowledge and experiences gained during this experience I feel like I am prepared and equipped to apply to European Erasmus Mundus programs and universities as I've been planning to for graduate school.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to other Political Science or Economics students in particular. It is a great program for an in depth analysis and understanding of the EU, but students focusing in other subjects may feel like the intense EU-concentration is overwhelming. It is a great program to deepen and gain understanding, not to be introduced to entirely new topics.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program consistently helps enrich my interest in European studies and politics. This interest is what originally drove me to do a program like this in the first place.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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