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.