Studying abroad can offer great opportunities to jump start your future career, or at least help you figure out what you’re interested in, and for Deanna Woodman, this definitely holds true! Read about UCLA student Deanna’s experience as an intern for the United Nations House Scotland…
- Could you introduce yourself?
My name is Deanna, and I am a senior attending the University of California, Los Angeles. I am majoring in Political Science and minoring in Civic Engagement. As a transfer student, I have been keen to take up as many opportunities as I can during my short time at UCLA. Besides studying abroad in Scotland, I have participated in a summer program in Cuba and am currently in Washington, D.C. as a part of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy’s Quarter in Washington Program.
- Why did you choose to study abroad in Scotland? What university did you attend while you were abroad? Any particular reason for choosing that one?
My abroad experience was unique because it was less of a “study abroad” program, and more of a “intern abroad” program. While I did take classes at the UC Study Center in Edinburgh, most of my time was spent at my internship with United Nations House Scotland. I chose this program specifically because of the internship component. I wanted to expand my networking prospects, along with learning new skills, and I felt that an internship abroad would be one of the best ways to do that.
- What are some of the bigger differences between Scotland and California? Did you expect these differences before coming abroad?
I am not going to lie, the weather can be a bit depressing. I went to Scotland for the Fall Semester, and, by December, the sun was setting by 3:30pm, and it was bitter cold. While I knew it was going to be different from California, I don’t think it is possible to prepare for what it is actually like to live in a cold region if you have never done it before. However, with the cold also comes new experiences! I discovered a host of new warm and delicious foods while I was there to stave off the cold; and my friends and I had a great time trying different types of clothing and tricks for warming up. Plus, the snow can be beautiful, especially around Christmas time. Even though it is a lot different from California, there definitely are pros, as well as cons, to the weather of Scotland. Just be sure to bring a raincoat!
- What made you get involved with United Nations House Scotland?
I have always dreamed of working for the United Nations. In fact, a long-time career goal of mine was to be a part of the United Nations in some capacity. When I found out the UCEAP office offered an internship placement with United Nations House Scotland, I jumped at the opportunity. It was amazing to be able to take the first step towards my goal of making a career in the United Nations.
- What did you get up to while interning at United Nations House Scotland – did you work on anything particularly cool?
While I worked on a wide variety of projects during my time with United Nations House Scotland, and was even allowed to take the lead on a few, one of the most exciting projects I worked on was a conference on the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Held at the Scottish Parliament, I was part of the planning team for this event and was privileged enough to meet and work with government officials from Scotland, Austria, Norway, and many others. Through this event, we were able to bring together many different civil society organizations and governments to articulate an understanding of the vital need to pass the treaty that will be negotiated in the summer of 2017 to ban nuclear weapons. Plans were made to meet again and to lobby all member-states of the United Nations in order to ensure the passing of this ban treaty. It was incredible to be a part of such a substantial and possibly history-making event.
6. How has study abroad impacted you, and how has your internship supplemented your abroad experience?
I know it is a bit cliché to say I have grown personally from my experience abroad, but it is true. I am more confident now than I was before this experience, and have gained new friendships that will last me a lifetime. Interning with the United Nations House Scotland only added to an absolutely amazing experience. I met such inspiring people who have been incredible mentors to me throughout these last few months. It is because of them I am applying for graduate school now. I have no doubt in my mind that this experience has changed and shaped what my future will be like in more ways than one.
7. Do you have any advice for students who are or who will be studying abroad in Scotland?
Take advantage of your location! You are so close to mainland Europe, and flights can be so cheap, there is really no excuse to not travel and have as many new experiences as you can! Also, be sure to make friends with the locals. It can be so easy to only talk to the people in your program, but it is impossible to truly understand and experience all Scotland has to offer without knowing and befriending Scottish people. Everyone in Scotland is extremely friendly, so it can be easy to make friends! Also, don’t forget to call home. It can get lonely in the winter months, but Skyping friends and family can make it a lot better.