Embedded: CRIM 412 - Crime, Social Control, and the Legal System - University Park
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Alexandra Murray

Major: Criminology
Hometown: Westbury, NY

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I received an e-mail from my academic advisor about an opportunity to take a 400-level criminology course with an embedded program to Curacao during spring break. Since I am graduating a year early, I did not have the opportunity to take part in a study abroad program. I felt that this would be the perfect experience to fulfill a major requirement and gain global experience.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The Curacao embedded program was full of information both regarding the criminal justice system and the culture of their people. The lectures were informative, and the field trips brought the information to life. Besides lectures, the island was beautiful. We had the opportunity to eat local food and explore the beaches with crystal clear water. Each day was interesting and helpful in shaping one's view of the island. We were able to tour the police department, tour the prosecutor's office, watch a trial, tour customs, tour the Coast Guard and the airport, and visit the prison of the island. It was an amazing opportunity to learn about a different country's criminal justice system and be able to compare it to that of the United States.

The lectures were informative, and the field trips brought the information to life.

How did this experience impact you academically?

My experience in Curacao greatly impacted me. When you learn about other cultures in a classroom, the professor can do their best to provide photos and videos, but you do not grasp everything. Being able to actually go to Curacao and see each place we were learning about made for a deeper academic experience. We were able to ask the Curacao officials questions and even volunteer at a vocational school we visited. Through the tours and meetings with officials in Curacao, you were able to learn more about the culture than just by reading a textbook. It was more clear how each department operated and what difficulties they faced being a small island. The island does not have as many resources as the United States, but they are working diligently to improve their services to function at optimal capacity. The technology of the police department has been improving to better protect the citizens, and the Coast Guard is making constant improvements to protect the sea borders.

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

After graduation, I will be attending law school at Hofstra Law. I have plans to become a practicing attorney in New York City, ideally in real estate law. Although I do not plan to practice in criminal law, my experience in Curacao did shape my goals for the future. After touring the prosecutor's office and sitting in on a trial, I was more sure of my plans to become an attorney. By talking to the judge and the prosecutor, I realized that I had made the right decision in applying to law school. Curacao was an insightful experience that shaped my college experience. I am looking forward to the next step in my academic career starting in the fall.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this embedded program to other Liberal Arts students because it gives you the opportunity to study abroad without the commitment of an entire semester. Sometimes with academic planning, it is not feasible to devote an entire semester to a study abroad program. With this program, you get the opportunity to learn about a different country's criminal justice system during your spring break. This trip also gives you the experience of learning about another culture while enjoying the beautiful beaches and weather the island has to offer. Before deciding to take this trip, I had never even heard of the island of Curacao. Now I know all about their former colonization, local customs, and criminal justice system. It was an amazing opportunity.

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