While each student will eventually select at least one area of concentrated study, the College of Arts and Science is committed to introducing every student to a broad range of subjects. Which academic interests and/or passions might be a part of your academic journey at Vanderbilt and why?
My academic interests are widely varied, ranging from Hebrew to psychology to architecture. Rather than briefly describing them all, I would prefer to focus on my main academic interest: international relations. As a strong-willed first grader, I consistently planted myself on the classroom beanbag to stare at a map of the political world. The map was beyond my physical reach, and thus I could not see the minutiae representing rural farming villages and Polynesian island nations. However, national capitals were marked in a bold and imposing font, and were always accompanied by a crisp, pointed star. I was soon able to proudly recite the capitals of nations from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Amidst the crunching sounds of Count Chocula cereal, I consistently defeated any challengers during snack time geography games. This marked the beginning of my infatuation with foreign affairs. My involvement with the world beyond America’s borders is the product of my family environment, early experiences with foreign travel, and a childhood spent in New York City. My family’s gatherings have always featured intellectual discussions about everything from the Oslo Accords to the long-term effects of Reaganomics. These discussions informed me about the salient topics of the day, and sparked in me a fascination for international politics and culture. My parents grew up in Israel, and thus conversation was often geared towards the Middle East. My family’s political discussions further stimulated my interest in understanding the nuances of Israeli politics. I was soon browsing through the pages of the Jerusalem Post, and obtained a greater fluency on the issues facing Israel and its neighbors. My mother’s work as a travel agent gave her access to discounted travel opportunities, which my family partook in throughout my childhood. I was able to witness the world firsthand, and was exposed to exotic architecture, cuisine, and lifestyles – from the Grand Place of Brussels to the bewildering, buzzing bazaars of Istanbul. I gained a deep appreciation for the intricacies of foreign culture, yet developed a strong desire to expand my experiences beyond the realm of the tourist. This exposure sparked in me a fascination for other peoples and other nations, and led me to further delve into the world of international relations. Coming of age in New York City – a place I have always felt is the Rome of the new millennium – I was privy to many experiences which would have remained foreign to me had I grown up in suburbia. As a distinctly global city, New York offers much in the way of foreign culture. As a young child, I strolled past the United Nations on a regular basis, and remember being fascinated by the patterns of the world’s flags and the native dress of the African delegations. As I grew older, it was commonplace to discuss the civil unrest in France with a waiter at the corner bistro, or listen to a Pakistani cab driver expound upon the strained relationship between the Muslims and Jews. These formative experiences only stimulated my desire to further understand the intricacies of the geopolitical arena; they have readied me for my future forays in diplomacy, working specifically on behalf of Israel as well as on broader issues affecting the world stage.