New York | Reflection

By Kyra Baffo

There is something about studying abroad in your own country. Although we only switched coasts, New York felt like a new world. At the conclusion of the program, I honestly felt like I hadn’t even scratched the surface of all the city had to offer, nonetheless, traveled to neighboring Boston, Philly, or D.C. If you are planning on embarking on your Travel Study experience, I urge you not to rule out domestic locations. I must say, it was nice to know we did not need to deal with new international rules and customs, passports, or language barriers. The familiarity made it our experience more seamless and flexible. New York is a great city to dissect, and I can assure you that you will have just as much (if not MORE) more fun than your peers studying abroad in other locations. Plus, if you are participating in the Global Studies Travel Study program, you will be in the best location to learn about primary international institutions that govern our world.

All in all, my experience in New York was unforgettable. Our cohort of 25, whom many I did not know upon starting the program, became some of my closest friends. The lack of a “campus” at NYU meant that as soon as we left the comfort of our dorms, we were fully immersed in the hustle and bustle of Greenwich Village. Washington Square Park was a city in itself, and was the study spot of choice for those of us looking to get some fresh air and people watch. The sheer accessibility of everything in the city due to the incredibly efficient transportation system made exploring new areas a breeze, and stumbling upon hidden gems happened constantly. I will leave you with my biggest words of advice for prospective NYC Travel Study Participants:

  1. Don’t overpack. Yes, you will be here for a month. But most of the items you’ll need for your dorms can be purchased at CVS/Target/Kmart upon arrival and it will help you avoid having an overweight suitcase.
  2. Stay ahead on the readings and make sure you familiarize yourself with the speakers beforehand.
  3. Try something new in the city everyday. And don’t be afraid to explore on your own. It’s not the scary, dangerous city that is often depicted on television. It really is quite safe, especially since you will be based in Greenwich Village. So, don’t be afraid to do a little solo traveling.

4. Eat lots and lots of food. If you are a ramen fan and/or if you are ready to try the greatest ramen of your life, check out Tabetomo. Deli fan? Katz Deli is your spot. In the mood for delicious falafel, lentil soup, and baklava? Check out Mamouns (Right around the corner from the dorms!)

5. Enjoy the city’s nightlife. Rooftop venues never get old.

6. Bring a camera. Time flies when you are on this program and before you know it, you’ll be flying back to LA. You will want to cherish every memory because when else will you be having the time of your life in NYC with your peers.

7.Don’t take the shuttle to the airport. Slight chance you might miss your flight.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Final Days & the Final

By Kyra Baffo

I’d be lying to you if I told you that our last week ½ wasn’t mildly stressful in preparation for the final. We weren’t sure what to expect and the idea that 10 units was on the line definitely didn’t ease anyone’s worries. But as a survivor of the program, I am here to tell you not to worry. I’ll offer you my best tips and advice for studying, as well as some of my favorite parts of the actual course content we went over.

First, you must recognize that how you do in this program does not define you. I know that sounds cliche but honestly, it’s true. Regardless of how well you end up feeling about the final, this program is 100% guaranteed to transform your academic experience at UCLA. You are in a new city, with new friends, intimately studying and meeting people who you’ve only heard about on tv and books. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage with accomplished UN officials, reporters, activists, and academics who have dedicated and successful careers in international relations. For many of us, this was a defining moment in our own career trajectories, and determined whether or not we were still interested in pursuing a path in foreign diplomacy.

So, as your prepare for the final, just remember how meaningful this experience truly was. For me, I realized that I actually have ZERO interest in pursuing a career at the UN for the simple fact that I did not want to relocated to New York City (Yes, it’s either D.C or New York for any serious work in international relations!), and I am not much of bureaucrat. I have renewed respect for the organization, and believe that despite the criticism is receives, the organization has withstood the test of time (thus far), and has been critical in shaping global norms and responsibilities, and has created a platform for international dialogue and agreement. But yeah, not for me. Thanks to the program, however, I have more of interest in private sector opportunities within diversity and inclusion and organizational development.

So, I would say that my favorite material and experiences from the course were: Learning what the UN is and how it actually works (many of us came in with no prior academic experience studying the UN. So do not be intimidated if you have less surface level knowledge than your peers); How nonprofit organizations like Human Rights Watch influence policy and political actors; human rights based approaches to international intervention; and structural reform in the UN. These topics each spoke to the challenges of the current state of the global order, and how institutions are both navigating this and calling for deep, structural reform. Powerful.

Interestingly enough, one of the most helpful tips when studying for the final is being able to outline these core themes. There is lots to learn in just a few short weeks. You are basically assigned two full books, plus journalistic and academic articles each week. So, studying should involve and combined effort of reviewing authors and readings, guest speakers and excursions, and trying to attach those authors and readings to the overarching themes of the course. Also, don’t be fooled by the open book/open note approach to the final. That is not a free pass to avoid studying. In fact, I found that having an open book final put more pressure on making sure my answers were great. It can be distracting to have so many notes and authors you could potentially refer to throughout your exam. So, try not to rely on that too heavily. Ultimately, the final isn’t bad at all. The biggest takeaway with studying: Connect themes! Don’t worry, you’ll do great. 🙂

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | 4th of July

By Kyra Baffo

There is no better time to be in New York than for the 4th of July! Well, except maybe New Years. Some of us had initially planned to spend the 4th in Boston or D.C. but instead decided to explore what activities were going on in the city that day. As expect, Washington Square Park was vibrant with red, white, and blue throughout the day.Ourmission for the day was clear and simple. Find a great spot to watch the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. We took the train down to Battery Park, a super cool park right on the southern tip of Manhattan. We were welcomed with scenic views of the Statue of Liberty, Governor’s Island, Jersey, and Brooklyn. The park itself has a number of fun activities, ferries, carousels, oyster bar, memorials and monuments, and it happens to be a great spot for biking.

We arrived with about an hour left before the fireworks started, and due to our mediocre navigating skills, weren’t entirely sure we were in the right place. We eventually ran into hoards of people camped out at the end of the park, facing the water and statue of liberty. We decided to try our look and get an even closer spot. We dove passed herds of crowds heading in every direction imaginable. Every seemed to think they knew the best angle to catch the fireworks. The NYPD had blocked off significant portions of the city surrounding the park, making it difficult to locate a better spot. We quickly grew anxious. We had about 10 minutes until the fireworks show was about to begin, with no consensus on the best angle to watch. We were holding hands and we tried to stick together while maneuvering through crowds.

Finally, we found what appeared to be enormous storage containers right behind the South Ferry Station. We proceeded to climb on top of them (you know, for the best view) and thus, found our perfect 4th July viewing spot. For future Global Studies cohorts, I do not advice you to try this method. It’s probably a better idea to just arrive on time! Turns out, our determination inspired others desperately seeking a great view, and by the start of the show, we were joined by a few other groups.

It did end up being worth it in the end. The views were priceless and we were able to avoid huge crowds for the majority of it. After the works ended, we headed towards the Oyster bar. On our way, we decided the only way to celebrate our favorite holiday was to proceed in patriotic song and dance, and a few 8 claps. We literally skipped through the streets of New York City singing Party in the USA and My Country tis of Thee. And believe it or not, we got TONS of people to join in our singing. People cheered us on from the sidelines, and a group of kids even joined our group for awhile. Shocking, I know.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Meeting with Ambassadors

By Kyra Baffo

After completing the NYC Global Governance Program, I finally get to say that I have met a diplomat. We met with the Finnish Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Salovaara, and Ambassador Ham who represented South Korea. Both Ambassadors offered unique and sometimes overly diplomatic, perspectives on their country’s role in the foreign diplomacy. We first met with Ambassador Salavaara at the Finnish Mission which was conveniently located directly across from UN Headquarters. Upon entering the conference room, we were greeted by state of the art views of NYC skyscrapers.

Ambassador Salavaara discussed topics ranging from Angry Birds and Nokia (which originated in Finland) to Brexit and immigration. He highlighted aspects of Finland that many of us don’t know; turns out, Finland is not geographically gifted (it borders Russia and had to continuously defend itself from Russian invasion), nor is it abundant in natural resources. As a result, Salavaara argued that the county has resorted to widespread investment in their own human capital. Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world, and they have created a comparative advantage in the tech industry. Salovaara highlighted that a teaching profession in Finland is incredibly lucrative, and competitive.

One can’t help but wonder what such an investment in the U.S would look like! Food for thought. Salovaara also touched the important of the EU, and stated that it is a “comprehensive cooperation machine”, one that once represented stability, prosperity, and security. He really seemed to believe that the EU is critical, and the integration of Europe is the only way true economic prosperity is achievable. It was definitely interesting to hear this perspective during a time when Brexit is looming and resurgent nationalism has dispersed throughout Europe. He positioned Finland as a country that sees cooperation as very fundamental to Europe’s prosperity and identity.

Our visit with Ambassador Ham at the Republic of Korea mission was hugely anticipated and exciting for our cohort. President Trump had just made history as the first U.S president to step on North Korean soil, and we were eager to ask the ambassador about his position on U.S-Korean relations- and of course, China. First, pro-tip when visiting the the Korean mission: get there early! The mission is beautifully designed and has amazing artwork and decor that you we definitely want to take a look at.

The biggest takeaway from Ambassador Ham was that South Korea’s main role on the peninsula is to act as a facilitator, supporter, and initiator. He highlighted that Korea is the only nation surrounded by 4 great powers (the U.S, China, Russia, and Japan) and therefore, foreign diplomacy is hugely important for their economic and national security. Ham argued that Korea could act as somewhat of mediator between the Global North and Global South; this is largely because South Korea itself went from a poor agrarian economy to a globalized and prosperous democracy in a single generation- something Ambassador Ham said he was very proud of. Ultimately, the greatest takeaway was that both ambassadors represent countries that are more or less restricted in their scope and power, but use the tools they have to promote cooperation and balance.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Little Italy, Chinatown, & Governor’s Island

By Kyra Baffo

Little Italy and Chinatown are conveniently located right next to each other, and offer incredible options if you are in the mood for Italian or Asian cuisine. We got here via the subway (just hopped on the D line from Washington Square Station and go off at Grand Street Station). We kicked off our evening in Chinatown, we feasted on sushi and chicken teriyaki before making our way up north to Little Italy. There are literally endless places to eat, so it might be helpful to come with a few ideas in mind on what you want to try. Or you can take the spontaneous route and find something along the way that looks tasty. A little warning about Little Italy, you will be approached by tons of restaurant owners offering you delicious pasta, pizza, and appetizers. And perhaps discounted wine in order to convince you and your friends to eat at their restaurant. Don’t be fooled! Maybe I am a little pessimistic, considering a group of friends walked into one of the restaurants only to find that the menu they were shown outside of the restaurant had double the prices once they sat down! As you can see, you definitely want to watch out for petty scams like that- as this is a very touristy area of the city. There a dozens of dessert stations, that serve world class cannolis and cakes. If you’re looking to find a few discounted gifts to bring back home to your family then this is the place to shop. There are tons of gift stores around this area that sell NYC paraphernalia and clothing. All in all, Little Italy and Chinatown are must dos on your NYC itinerary. Come on an empty stomach and maybe a few restaurant ideas in mind beforehand and you will have a great experience.

Little Italy and Chinatown are conveniently located right next to each other, and offer incredible options if you are in the mood for Italian or Asian cuisine. We got here via the subway (just hopped on the D line from Washington Square Station and go off at Grand Street Station). We kicked off our evening in Chinatown, we feasted on sushi and chicken teriyaki before making our way up north to Little Italy. There are literally endless places to eat, so it might be helpful to come with a few ideas in mind on what you want to try. Or you can take the spontaneous route and find something along the way that looks tasty. A little warning about Little Italy, you will be approached by tons of restaurant owners offering you delicious pasta, pizza, and appetizers. And perhaps discounted wine in order to convince you and your friends to eat at their restaurant.

Don’t be fooled! Maybe I am a little pessimistic, considering a group of friends walked into one of the restaurants only to find that the menu they were shown outside of the restaurant had double the prices once they sat down! As you can see, you definitely want to watch out for petty scams like that- as this is a very touristy area of the city. There a dozens of dessert stations, that serve world class cannolis and cakes. If you’re looking to find a few discounted gifts to bring back home to your family then this is the place to shop. There are tons of gift stores around this area that sell NYC paraphernalia and clothing. All in all, Little Italy and Chinatown are must dos on your NYC itinerary. Come on an empty stomach and maybe a few restaurant ideas in mind beforehand and you will have a great experience.

Govna’s Island (Governor’s Island)- truly a land of dreams. Just for a little background, the island is just south of Manhattan, accessible via a $2 ferry, and its existence dates all the way back to the American Revolution. Today, the island mostly serves as a day-trip destination and offers visitors a number of interesting recreational activities. The catch, however, is that you need to make sure you check what activities you are interested in doing before you make the trek. My group and I were interested in ziplining, kayaking, and riding bikes on the island, only to find out that nearly every outdoor activity was reserved for the weekend (we were there on Wednesday). We ended up renting Surreys, which are basically group bicycles, while some others rented their own personal bikes. If you are going with a large group then I would definitely recommend renting Surreys, as they make it cost efficient for everyone and allow you up to 45 minutes to ride around the island. If you end up going on a weekend, you will find plenty more activities to try out. This island is pretty small, but manages to host a number of events. Just to name a few- they have gardening, museums, parks and hammocking areas, a really interest junkyard playground, and festivals. There is not many shady areas around the island, so please do not forget sunscreen and/or a parasol when you visit. Have fun! 🙂

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | World Pride in NYC

By Kyra Baffo

Our NYU dorms were in a prime location for the World Pride Parade (Also happens to be our very first weekend in the city.) World Pride experience began earlier in the week with a trans rights protest that passed right in front of Lipton Hall, though festivities were coordinated for the entire month of June. Performers held live events in the preceding nights that brought out hundreds of locals and students excited to celebrate Pride and the 50th anniversary of the Stone Wall Riots. This was my first Pride event, and considering it was World Pride, I had high expectations. And let me tell you- it did not disappoint.

Millions of people traveled to the city in light of the celebration. Pride Flags decorated the city, and Greenwich Village felt like the central hub for Pride parades, performances, and festivities. The Pride March originated in Madison Square Park and followed a U shape through the city; it brushed just north of our dorms at Lipton, passed the historical Stone Wall Inn and culminated at 23rd street. There were food trucks offering decadent foods (I enjoyed a delicious lobster quesadilla and homemade whoopie pie), drag queens, auctions, and a variety of vendors.

Unfortunately, participating in the march itself was closed off to most people. We spent most of our time spectating from the sidelines and navigating through massive crowds. We stopped for 99 cent pizza, a must do if you find yourself in the village. The pizza was seriously the best pizza I had in New York City, and it was only 99 cents! It was interesting to see all of the corporate sponsors making their debut on Pride Floats, from T-mobile to JP Morgan, I couldn’t help but notice how commercialized the Pride had seem to become or maybe- how global the movement has become.

Is this a good thing? Or does it take away from fundamental message of Pride? As Global Studies majors, maybe it is inevitable that we would question this. We spoke with activists celebrating at the Stonewall Inn who emphasized their discomforts and/or appreciations with the police force at Pride, which draws from a long and violent history between law enforcement and members of the lgbtq community. For some people I spoke with, the police did not have a place at the parades at all. For others, it represented the progress and accomplishments that the movement has achieved.

Attending the Parade was an amazing opportunity to learn about the varying perspectives and ideas about the movement today. Despite the official conclusion of the Parade, the streets were full of people, confetti, and flags well into the night. I spent the latter part of the evening in Christopher Park, a lively hub located directly in front of the Stonewall Inn and home of the Gay Liberation Monument; performers and activists stayed well into the night and were a great source of fun and entertainment. Spending Pride in NYC was an unforgettable experience and one I am glad I got to experience with my fellow Global Studies peers.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Council on Foreign Relations

By Kyra Baffo

What do you envision when you dream of your ideal workplace? A cool office space? Vending machines? Or bean bag chairs? What about a majestic 20th century townhouse? Well for those lucky enough to obtain employment at the Council on Foreign Relations, their workplace resembles an elegant ballroom with beautiful marble floors and historic furnishings. The Council on Foreign Relations is nestled on East 68th Street, just blocks away from Central Park and appears rather inconspicuous from the outside.

If you are unfamiliar with the organization’s history, CFR is a nonpartisan membership based foreign affairs think tank founded after the failings of any substantial peace dealings falling World War I. The founders wanted to create a platform for the discussion and inquiry in global relations. You are immediately greeted by security upon entrance and swept away into Peterson Hall, a spacious conference room featuring copies of the latest Foreign Affairs magazine, and water glasses. We felt like royalty. We met with Adam Segal, the Ira. A Lipman Chair in Emerging Technologies and National Security and Director of the Digital and Cyberspace Program at the Council. Segal also happens to be a renowned expert on China, and spent most of his discussion with us highlighting the increased tensions and growing interdependence of China and the U.S. He covered everything from ‘good’ hacking vs. ‘bad’ hacking, trade, and cyber security issues.

My greatest takeaways from Segal were in the realm of the evolving relationship between the U.S and China. As China becomes an increasingly dominant economic player in the world, the U.S will be in the best position to combat this by investing in our own growth- As opposed to slapping tariffs on China and being skeptical towards Chinese students studying in America. His argument speaks volumes within the current political climate we live in, and honestly makes a lot of sense. Segal underscored an important talking point for a number of law makers and advocates who believe that America’s best defense resides in our own human capital and continued innovation.

Following Segal’s presentation, we were given additional information on internship opportunities at CFR. For those of you who are interested in potential internships with the organization, here are the biggest takeaways: Internships are based in either New York City or Washington D.C (Unfortunately for us UCLA students, these internships are offered on a semester basis), they are unpaid, and require (16-20 hours) per week of commitment. For those from diverse backgrounds CFR offers the Robina Franklin Williams internship program which pays at an hourly rate.

The perks of interning with them are hard to overstate; professional development and networking opportunities, experience working on critical policy issues at one of the most prestigious foreign affairs think tanks in the world! It was clear by the end of our excursion most students in our program had decided that they could imagine a future career at this premier organization. CFR was definitely one of my favorite excursions on the program.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Exploring the City: NYC’s Highline

By Kyra Baffo

What happens when you revive an abandoned railroad line spanning across the city into a beautifully crafted urban park? I’m sure you can guess. New York City’s highline park showcases the unique designs of modern urban architecture and ecological revival. The highline spans 1.45 miles, beginning in the Lower West side and extending through 34th street, with a number of entrances you can choose from (we walked from campus to Washington st.). The route is designed to make visitors feel immersed in the city, offering 360 views of iconic NYC buildings and the Hudson river. The park is covered in beautiful plants and greenery, features art work from local vendors and food (which includes homemade papaya popsicles (yum!), asian buns, hotdogs, and ice cream), performances, and benches if you just want to sit and embrace the city.

My friends and I enjoyed the stroll, often stopping to enjoy the creative art on display or take a guess at what part of the city we were in.  The Highline, in manys ways, is so much more than a city park. It is a community center, public space, ecological haven, and revived industrial good. The Railroad was originally built in the early 1900s in response to the high death rates of pedestrians getting hit by trains on street level tracks. However, by the 1970s the rise in trucking led to a decline in usage. There were immediate calls for the railroads demolition, but thanks to advocates and conversancy groups, the high line was preserved and transformed into one of the largest attractions in the city.

In a highly condensed place like New York, finding lively, yet calming public spaces is a rarity. But the city does a great job of utilizing the space it does have to foster community engagement and creativity. The same could be said for Washington Square Park, the “quad” for NYU students who lack a centralized campus. The park, like the Highline, has a life of its own and offers visitors a unique space within the hustle and bustle of the city to relax or explore the creative artistic scenery. Musicians regularly perform; vendors sell food and anti Trump merchandise; others take a dive in the fountain in the center of the park.

Somehow students manage to get studying done there. Through its chaos and open platform, the park turns into a city of its own, and somehow transforms into a ‘safe space’ where you can literally do anything and no one would look twice. Both parks are must-dos for anyone who finds themselves in this sprawling city. And luckily enough, we had Washington Square Park right at a door steps. The Highline radiates NYC history and don’t worry, if you find yourself there on an extremely hot summer day, you will enjoy the abundance of mistifiers and sprinklers that strategically dispersed through the railway. Although New York City’s hyper urbanized landscape can make virtually anyone feel overwhelmed, hidden (or mile-wide) gems in the city surely make up for it.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Visiting the UN

By Kyra Baffo

Our first excursion was a goody.. We got to explore one of the most influential international bodies to ever be created. The United Nations was formed in response to the widespread devastation of the World Wars, and in the hopes of creating a platform for dialogue and international peace and stability between the post-war global powers and original members of the General Assembly. For those who are unfamiliar with the set up, The UN is divided into 6 main organs: The Security Council, the General Assembly, The Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Trusteeship Council, and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Most of us are familiar with the Security Council, the most powerful voice within the institution. The Council has 15 members, 5 are permanent (The U.S, China, Russia, France, and the UK) and 10 are non-permanent rotating members. Together, the Security Council is responsible for maintaining international peace and stability, and is given sweeping privileges to employ force in achieving those efforts. However, the permanent members exert absolute control over the agenda and what actions the institution can undertake. If any one of the permanent members casts a veto- the action is effectively dead.

It quickly became apparent that the power of the veto has been an ongoing point of contention and debate both within the UN and among critics who feel like the system prevents meaningful action from ever being taken. One great example of this is in regards to human rights abuses. China, (a country that employs an onslaught of human rights violations- especially the current crisis in Xinjiang), is known to be on the defensive when it comes to addressing human rights abuses, and generally emphasizes the important of national sovereignty. That plays into a larger issue within the institution- the geopolitical divides that constitute the Security Council. China and Russia are the only powers that represent the Eastern, often ‘anti western bloc’, whereas the U.S is paired with France, and the UK. This is the perfect recipe for gridlock, and resistance towards unified action in a variety of politically charged crises- a problem that has received widespread attention from frustrated members of the GA and critics of the UN.

So, what were the main takeaways from our trip to this vast institution? Well for one, the UN is an incredibly important body. The world organization represents 193 nations, and fosters important initiative under bodies like ECOSOC that work towards global standards for human rights, gender equality, health, the environment, and economic development. Forums and conferences held by the organization create a platform for leaders, diplomats, and ngos to discuss the most prevalent issues facing our world. Notwithstanding, however is the lack of enforcement power that the organization actually has. Though many heinous crimes and abuses are enshrined in international law, that carries virtually no ground in our Westphalian world where concepts of state sovereignty take priority.

The most surreal issue facing the institution though, resides in its obsolete structure. As countries that have historically been confined to the Global South continue to see substantial economic growth, so too will their desire to have a greater influence within the organization. Countries like Brazil and India are the most obvious examples. Will the institution undergo structural reforms that will help expand the Security Council? Or, perhaps give more weight to the General Assembly? These were the concerns most widely discussed in our analysis of the UN. How will the world organization progress into a rapidly changing geopolitical arena? One can only speculate.

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork

New York | Why New York?

By Kyra Baffo

Hello! And welcome to my blog. My name is Kyra and I am a Global Studies major who chose to do my travel study program in NYC. I know what you’re thinking… a study abroad program in New York? Does that even count? The simple answer is YES. The NYC Global Studies Travel Study Program is an intensive, 4 week program focused on international governance and policy. New York City is a global hub for international affairs and development, with the UN headquarters, Human Rights Watch, Council on Foreign Relations, UN Foundation, and hundreds of other ngos and agencies all based in this global metropolis.

Throughout the program, we explored the history, methods, and evolving role of the United Nations in a globalized and shifting world. We met with representatives from the UN and experts on procedural methods, legal affairs, foreign diplomacy,  campaigns, and progress towards the current Sustainable Development Goals; we met with journalists on the future of the United States’ role in a rapidly changing global world order; we spoke with leading experts on the growing influence of China on the world stage and addressing the most concerning human rights abuses. Although we were rooted on American soil, this program was wholly international.

I chose New York so that I could learn and experience firsthand the contemporary global issues that shape our world, and meet with leaders actively solving these problems on the world stage. I wanted to be surrounded by students with a passion for international diplomacy and development, and challenge my current understanding of the complex issues that policymakers and advocates address everyday. Our lectures were held in New York City’s vibrant Greenwich Village at NYU’s Law school. Our Professors, Kal Raustiala and Lara Stemple, UCLA Law Professors and experts in international law and health and human rights, guided us through topics ranging from international law, human rights, HIV/AIDS and public health, sex trafficking, and the future of the UN system. My decision to study in New York was not one that I chose lightly. As I will show you in my post-travel blog, NYC is not only the center of all things international, but also happens to be an incredibly diverse and exuberant city with unlimited things to do. The city has fantastic museums, a vibrant nightlife, delicious foods, cultural centers, and historic sites.

I hope that reading my blog will not only inspire you to embark on a travel study experience of your own, but will encourage you to see the value and importance of this experience in your academic journey. UCLA is a great place to be. We have fantastic resources on campus and are surrounded by some of the most intelligent students and faculty at any American university. Yet, my education at UCLA was dramatically improved by my experience in New York this summer. In part because I truly became a global citizen, and got to experience and interact with many of the actors I had only learned about in my Global Studies courses. And because the program exposed me to a variety of potential career options and paths I had not previously considered. Exploring the UN allowed me to envision whether I would truly want to pursue a career there. Meeting with journalists and academics who specialize in UN affairs and foreign policy exposed me to opportunities in foreign relations that do not involve traditional notions of government bureaucrats and diplomacy. I hope you enjoy reading about my journey in NYC, and are inspired to pursue your own travel study while you have the opportunity!

Kyra studied abroad in New York in Summer 2019. https://ieo.ucla.edu/travelstudy/GlobalStudies-NewYork