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.