23 February 2017

Home Swiss Home for a Semester

An American who hails from the Washington D.C.- area, Miriam is currently a full-time student at Sciences Po Paris. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in International Security, with concentrations in Diplomacy and Global Risks. She attended the Graduate Institute on exchange for the Autumn 2016 semester.

"When I received an email from Sciences Po stating they had nominated me as their study-abroad candidate at the Graduate Institute, to say that I was thrilled would be an understatement. As a Model UN Enthusiast in high school and later International Relations Major in college, I dreamed of one day coming to Geneva. Its reputation as the premier city of international dialogue did not disappoint. My classes at the Graduate Institute and my experiences in the wider city of Geneva proved this to undeniably be the case.

I was drawn first and foremost to the Graduate Institute because of its renowned quality of education. I chose to follow the International Law curriculum. Some examples of courses I took are: Law of Nations, Foreign Relations and National Security Law, and Counterterrorism and International Law. The quality of international legal education and pertinence of content was, simply put, impeccable. My professors included Andrew Clapham and Edward Swaine—authors of the textbook we used in class, and Andrea Bianchi—an expert in his field. They were not just deeply knowledgeable. They were also passionate about international legal education and were truly invested in the development of their students.

My program of studies provided multi-faceted training in International Law. While one course covered the fundamentals of International Law, another course would focus on teaching Legal Research skills. The classes would also make a point to ensure relevancy. We would discuss contemporary issues that International Legal Courts are confronting, and followed cases that are currently being prosecuted in Courts and Tribunals. Current events were also tied in. One example is when Professor Clapham discussed the legal implications of President Trump’s agenda to withdraw from international trade agreements such as the TPP. I walk away from this semester confident that I received strong training in the International Law field, should I wish to pursue it professionally in the future.

The insight was not confined to the walls of the classroom. Multiple conferences were held every day, in which leading academics and practitioners would be invited to give a lecture. Just this past semester, the Graduate Institute hosted Kofi Annan, Ban Ki Moon, and Paul Krugman.

While studying at IHEID, I also underwent a part-time internship at the United Nations. This brings me to the second reason that I chose to study at the Graduate Institute: its location. Located in the heart of Geneva, the Maison de la Paix campus is a mere stone’s throw away from the United Nations office. Since Le Palais des Nations was just a five-minute walk from La Maison de la Paix, I could easily run back and forth from class to my internship. Much to my chagrin, this would mean that I would often have to show up to class in professional work attire and with my badge tucked away in my schoolbag. However, I was quick to realize this was not unusual. Several of my classmates were also pursuing internships while following their course of studies. It was actually quite a remarkable scene to take in. Once the Professor would finish his or her last remark, he or she would give us a quiet nod and smile. This was the signal to take out that badge, slide on that blazer and run out the door to get to the office on time.

Finally, the landscape of Geneva was another highlight of my stay. The quiet company of the Lac de Genève would accompany my walk home. In the evenings, the water would dance as crystal flecks of light reflected off of its shores. Gazing up from the lake, I would be greeted by watchful guardians in the form of bordering mountains in the distance. Merci beaucoup, Geneva, for being home Swiss home for a semester. C’était vraiment un plaisir pour moi d’être parmi vous."