The Charger Blog

National Security Major Gains International Perspective While Studying Abroad

One of 20 students spending a month in Europe this summer, Gianluca Canessa ’22 writes that studying abroad and immersing himself in a new culture have enriched his educational experience.

June 20, 2019

By Gianluca Canessa ’22

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Gianluca Canessa ’22 with Dr. Chris Haynes.

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Gianluca Canessa ’22 in Paris.

The chance to participate in the France-Switzerland-Belgium study abroad program this summer is something I have been looking forward to for weeks. Although, as a national security major and incoming rising sophomore, the political science nature of the experience is outside of my primary program of study, I have broadened my horizon and gained valuable skills for a job in any field.

Two weeks into our trip, many of us would have guessed we had been gone for an entire month – or longer. So far, the program has enabled us to have many experiences, including touring Paris and the Loire Valley and visiting the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and the migrant neighborhoods of north Paris. We will also be visiting many more organizations in Geneva and Brussels as part of our trip.

The experience presents interesting subjects and opportunities. Although we have a busy schedule, the sun sets later on the other side of the Atlantic, our afternoons and free weekends have allowed us plenty of time to explore Paris, to have fun, and, of course, to work hard on our projects.

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Gianluca Canessa ’22 at the Château de Chambord in France.

What employment opportunities does a political science course offer to a national security student? There are the many obvious jobs that every criminal justice and national security major, myself included, listed as goals on our college application. This course, though, has opened my mind to many potential areas of interest and careers that I would not have come across otherwise.

"For me, the real outcome of this course is not a specific career interest, but, rather, the opportunity to build skills that will help me choose a career."Gianluca Canessa ’22

By learning about global convergence and migration, we explore many international institutions, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), NATO, and the United Nations – both in class and in person.

Each of these agencies deals with a variety of topics that involve national security and foreign policymaking. For me, the real outcome of this course is not a specific career interest, but, rather, the opportunity to build skills that will help me choose a career. Open-mindedness to discourse and debate, research methods, formulating articulate arguments, and awareness of diverse cultures have been a regular part of our daily lives.

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Gianluca Canessa ’22 at the Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s residence, which was commemorating the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

France was a completely new experience for me, despite having travelled to Europe in the past. Being able to draw parallels and contrast to our situations back home and abroad has been easier as we continue to reflect on our trip. In reality, it does not matter what subjects you explore while abroad. What matters is what you take out of the experience.

I’d like to thank Profs. Dr. Chris Haynes and Dr. Alka Jauhari. Opportunities like this are enabling me to make the most of my time as a college student by learning and experiencing the world up close, and it can be a great way to spend part of summer break.