[This article first appeared in the European Studies Alliance Newsletter spring/summer 2009 newsletter.]
By Mike Osberg, UW-Madison Alumnus (A.B. 2009, International Studies and Economics; Certificate: European Studies)
Studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium was one of the most influential and enjoyable experiences during my time in college. Learning to live in another country presented me with challenges and experiences that will benefit me for the rest of my life. I was able to travel around Europe, and see the vast array of cultures, languages and histories that Europe has to offer.
While I was in Brussels, I was able to take a cross-cultural communications class, which looked at differences in language and culture between Belgians, Americans, and Europeans as a whole. This class challenged me to look at the way that I perceived ideas and cultures that are different from my own. It was a valuable class to take, especially in a classroom with students from all around the world.
As I returned home, I was much more aware of many of the cultural subtleties in the U.S. that I often never notice. Also during my Brussels semester, I attended a conference focusing on economic development and cooperation between Europe and the Mediterranean states. Leaders from states around both of these areas discussed the opportunities for collaborative policies leading to growth policies. Being able to see how policy started being developed and the challenges that arose especially when working with countries of such different cultures was something that I found fascinating and am curious to learn more about.
Studying abroad also had an immense impact on what I have decided to do now that I have graduated college. Next year, I will be attending the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota where I will be concentrating on global public policy and development.
Here on campus, we are fortunate enough to have the European Studies Certificate that has allowed me to tie all of my European experiences together. The certificate provides a way to put together all of the courses that I have taken about Europe. It works as a way to bridge connections between different courses and put them all together under one European ‘umbrella.’ By looking at all these experiences under a European lens, I can see that I have developed a solid background in many of the issues, cultures and histories of Europe. As I continue forward with my studies, I strongly believe that my background in Europe will help me as I learn about policymaking at an international level. The E.U. is one of the most unique bodies of international governance we have in the world, and taking the lessons that I have learned both abroad and here on the UW campus will allow me to be even more successful as I progress in my career.
Being a European Studies Certificate Student
At UW-Madison the European Studies Program offers undergraduates the opportunity to earn a Certificate in European Studies. Certificate students demonstrate commitment to the study of Europe by attaining competency in a European language (other than English) and by taking a minimum of seven courses (21 credits) on Europe, its regions, or on specific European countries. With more than 200 certificate students, European Studies is the largest area studies certificate program and the fourth-largest certificate program on campus behind Business, Criminal Justice, and Environmental Studies.
For more information about the European Studies Certificate, please contact
Csanád Siklós at firstname.lastname@example.org