Embedded: GEOSC 397/499 - Natural Hazards in a Developing Nation: How Does Thailand Respond
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Emily Shiels

Liberal Arts Major: Global and International Studies
Other Major: Geography
Minor: Spanish and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Hometown: Julian, Pennsylvania
Experience Time: Summer 2022

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

This trip focused on how natural disasters affect a developing country like Thailand and we spent 20 days in-country experiential learning. Two weeks were spent in and around Bangkok learning about the effects of coastal/urban flooding and sea-level rise while the other week was spent in Chiang Rai learning about rural flooding and earthquakes. We ate traditional Thai cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and had Thai students from Kasetsart University accompany us on our travels. We spent time cultivating discussion around specific topics and used our experiences to draw conclusions and ask questions about the phenomena we observed.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I loved this experience because I was able to combine the intersection of human and physical geography (natural disaster effects) with global studies. Learning in a completely new country is an unrivaled experience and it reassured my interest in how problems affect each nation differently. I was able to focus on truly absorbing the information and applying what I learned to real-world issues rather than just focusing on doing well on a test. I would love to learn more about Southeast Asia in my GLIS classes.

"Learning in a completely new country is an unrivaled experience and it reassured my interest in how problems affect each nation differently."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

I hope to use my skills and experiences gained in college to pursue a career in the federal government. My sights are set specifically on the Department of State in the consular/diplomacy/international affairs realm. Having travel/study abroad experience in a non-Western country will give me a leg up on other candidates for those positions.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

I received Liberal Arts Enrichment Funds which helped to cover some costs of my trip. This ensured that I was able to fully immerse myself without having to worry about the finances. I'm grateful to be a GLIS major where a limited amount of funds were guaranteed for my first international experience. I felt supported my entire time abroad and I am so thankful to have received funding.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program emphasizes the importance of gaining experience abroad, and while I was already planning to do some sort of study abroad while in college, that extra push from PFP is what I needed to kick it into gear and do it as a sophomore. Gaining this experience early and loving it means that I have more opportunities to do embedded courses in the future and broaden my worldview.

For more information on education abroad for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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