International Studies Focus

<p>I understand that this is a long post, but your help on this matter is greatly appreciated, so please read on…. :relaxed:</p>

<p>I am currently a college freshman. Eventually, I want to go to graduate school in International Studies. I hope to apply to most of the top programs, including Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, Yale, Chicago, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, etc.</p>

<p>I am particularly interested in South Asian studies. However, my college does not offer classes in that field. Thus, I am left to choose between two other areas I am also interested in: Middle East Studies and Asian Studies.</p>

<p>With that in mind, please help me answer two questions:</p>

<p>To be most appealing and competitive in the pool of applicants for the top international studies graduate schools, should I concentrate on Middle East Studies/Arabic or East Asian Studies/Chinese or Japanese? If you chose Asian Studies, which language should I choose: Chinese or Japanese?</p>

<p>Previous Language Experiences:</p>

<p>I am already fluent in speaking Hindi and Urdu, which are very similar when spoken, but appear very differently on paper. Urdu looks more like Arabic, while Hindi resembles Gujrati. I can also understand Gujrati fully and speak it to a degree, but not as well as Urdu and Hindi. I cannot write or read any of these languages, but can speak them because I have grown up in a South Asian household.</p>

<p>In high school, I took Latin to the end of the second level, but hardly remember most of it.</p>

<p>As a Muslim, almost all of the prayers I recite are in Arabic. I know what the prayers mean and can say them, but I do not know how to speak Arabic outside of these prayers. Nonetheless, this would make learning Arabic a little easier than other languages offered at my school.</p>

<p>The only language I can speak, read, and write is English.</p>

<p>My college offers the following foreign languages. I have listed them as per my own interest level, starting with the language I am most interested in.</p>

<li> Arabic</li>
<li> Chinese</li>
<li> Russian</li>
<li> French</li>
<li> Italian</li>
<li> Japanese</li>
<li> German</li>
<li> Spanish</li>
<li> Portugese</li>

<p>Finally, if Middle East and Asian Studies do not sound like a great focus, please recommend what other field I should concentrate (Latin America, Russia/East Europe, Africa, Europe, etc.) on. Perhaps I should take a general selection of courses in each field and not bother focusing on a region. Would that be wise?</p>

<p>I know all of this depends on other factors such as personal interest, particular graduate program’s specializations, etc. Nonetheless, I am hoping to receive a general answer based on what I have provided.</p>

<p>Thank you for your time. It is greatly appreciated.</p>

<p>Depends really what area of the world will fuel your fire? I think choosing anything that can play on he comparative advantage you already have in Hindi and Urdu will work well. Also, when you choose a language think about two things: How many people speak the language in the workforce, and is that language in demand in the world? Also think about how many international institutions operate in that language. I'd say Chinese over Japanese by the way, just judging from the current shift in supply chains etc for business. But it all depends on what type of work you'd like to do as well. Private? Public? Non-profit?</p>

<p>With language though...For example, a friend of mine gives me crap because he's taking Chinese, and getting fluent fast. Meanwhile, I speak Polish and i'm taking French as well. He says Chinese is a good investment (which it is). Although, I like to tell him that in 50 years, the Chinese will all be speaking English and adapting to the English language. However, the French, well i'm sure they'll still be speaking French, increasing their languages prestige abroad-in the EU/international organizations/northern Africa and north America, and they'll still refuse to adhere to English supremacy (although French isn't very much behind). So i'm going to stick with French. Just an example of things to think about.</p>

<p>But again, do what interests and motivates you, then be practical and make sure you'd be good with that region of the world and the work you want to do. Another option is earning a specialized skill (like economics, finance, etc) then using that skill to work in international climates which it seems you've already been given a jump start in with your background. This is all just my opinion, shaped of course from what i'v been through, so I could be wrong in some cases.</p>

<p>Hope my rambling helps a little :/</p>

<p>Thank you for your post. It was helpful, especially in detailing how I should build upon my advantage of already being fluent in Urdu and Hindi.</p>

<p>Does anyone else have any thoughts on this matter?</p>

<p>The answer to your first question (ME or SE Asia) depends mostly upon your reason for wishing to study S. Asia later. Think of your current education providing analogies for your later degree.</p>

<p>If you want to get into security problems, study the ME and Arabic, because you will get more exposure to the type of non-state violence and negotiation (as well as many of the specific actors) that will shape security in South Asia.</p>

<p>If you are more interested in the problem of relations with emerging markets such as India, study Asia and Chinese, because the case studies you will encounter will be more economic and prepare you better for emerging market work in S. Asia.</p>

<p>In this way, you can pitch yourself as having pre-loaded language and culture experience and theory experience; you just haven't combined them much in the region of interest yet.</p>

<p>Forget Japanese.</p>