My Journey Towards International Relations

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Being a college student today is a complex and often challenging proposition. This is true even before actually attending a university, because the simple act of choosing where to earn one's degree is not straightforward. There are so many options out there—big and small colleges, local universities and those out of state, and higher education institutions that specialize in just about any field imaginable. However, I have found myself drawn to the University of California in Los Angeles for some time now. There are a number of reasons why I would prefer to attend your school over any other, and why I feel it would be a better fit for my skills and preferences than the college I am currently attending. First, there is the fact that it is such a large and populated campus. In this type of school I can have so many different experiences and meet professors and students who are very different from myself. I also know that UCLA has an exceptional reputation and a great track record of turning out successful graduates. Most importantly, though, I wish to transfer to UCLA because I feel that it is the best place to pursue my interest in international relations.

International relations is a field that has appealed to me for a long time, ever since I was young. In addition, it is a field in which I believe I can be successful and help work for the betterment of humankind and increased understanding between people who have different cultures and backgrounds. Looking back, I would say that what originally drew me to the field of international relations is my own experience with living in multiple countries. When I was younger I lived outside the United States, but I moved to this country some time ago. Moving from one country to another is difficult and stressful—you have to learn a new language and culture, find new schools and jobs, and you are often separated from many of your family members. I am still learning the language and adapting to a culture that is very different from the one I grew up in. School in particular has been a challenge, since I have needed to simultaneously learn to adapt as well as work to understand the course material itself. 

Still, probably the biggest hurdle that has to be overcome when moving to another country is the way the people who live in that country sometimes treat you. I have been fortunate to have the support of many friends and teachers, but I have still experienced some discrimination in my time here. People do not look at me the same way that they look at someone who has lived in this country for their entire life. Sometimes they assume things about my personality or personal life based on the way I look or the things they think they know about my culture. Other times, they do not think I am as intelligent as I really am because I do not speak English as well as they do. I know that for some people the experience is even worse, however, and they are actively stereotyped, discriminated against, or even hurt because of their race, culture, and/or country of origin.

That is why I become interested in helping to improve relations between countries—not just the two I have lived in, but in all parts of the world. The main reason that people stereotype and discriminate against people from other places is that they seem unfamiliar and strange. When people do not understand something, they often fear it and strike out against it. When people see others who are different, they are usually a little afraid and can act in ways that are cruel or unthinking even though they are not actually bad people. It is a strength to have different cultures and backgrounds. If everyone were the same, we would only have a limited number of ways to approach life and solve problems. If everyone had a better understanding of what life is like in different parts of the world, they would not think the citizens of other countries are so strange. They would know why their neighbors were different, and would realize that those differences are natural and even beneficial. This is just as true at all levels of society, from the political leaders of a nation to its average citizens.

International relations is often seen as merely a political endeavor, but it is actually something that we can all improve and benefit from. At the higher levels, meanwhile, leaders can work to improve mutual understanding between their countries and thus strengthen political ties and form more peaceful bonds. I truly believe that this is the best thing we can do for the world and to improve the future of our species. No matter how different they are, all countries can and should learn to work together for the benefit of all. This is not an easy or simple goal, and will not likely be achieved in my lifetime. However, I can help improve our progress towards meeting that goal. Once countries with different skills, perspectives, and attitudes learn to work together, they can turn towards solving big, important problems like poverty, global climate change, and violent conflicts.

I was not originally sure whether I would turn this interest into a career or whether it would merely be something I strove towards in my personal life. After all, I also have a strong interest in economics, and considered studying that for a while. I find the field of economics to be fascinating, especially the different theories that explain the ways goods and services move through an economy and how people interact with those goods and services. Since I am good at math, I have also been successful in the economics-related courses I have taken. In addition, I have been told that economics careers are a very good way to make a living. The field of economics combines my interest in and abilities with math, philosophy, and psychology, and it is something I wish to learn more about.

However, recently I have changed directions and decided to pursue international relations as a career. During the recent fall, I completed an internship with an international trading company—something I have wanted to do for a long time. Internships are an excellent way to learn skills and information while also gaining valuable experience, and this one in particular let me take advantage of my two major areas of interest. Working with a business let me see economic theories in practice, and since the company works with international customers and suppliers I could see the way that people interact across country lines in a business setting. I was able to work with people who are different from myself and my classmates, and to see another side of the international divide than I had previously experienced. 

The main thing I learned from this internship is that there are many challenges and laws faced by business owners who work with other countries. There are language and cultural barriers, and then there are different ways of practicing business and conducting social interactions. On a more personal level, I also realized that as much as I enjoy economics and would not want to put aside that interest completely, I cannot see working in that field for a living. Instead, I want to pursue a career in international relations because it is something I am passionate about and already have experience with. This is why I would like to transfer to UCLA as soon as I can. I know that this school has many courses that will provide valuable information, and experienced professors who can help guide me into this complex field. I believe that I will fit in well with the school's unique culture and eventually become a graduate it can be proud of. Thank you for taking the time to read my essay and listen to my story.