EMU Summer Experience: Lora Stevens- International Summer School (ISS) Study Abroad in Oslo
This summer Lora Stevens (Master of Business Administration, degree expected 2017) took the chance to study abroad at the International Summer School (ISS), in Norway. Feeling detached from the international community as a whole and wanting an experience that would broaden her world views, Stevens followed the recommendation of her professor, Dr. Diana Wong, and embarked upon a life changing opportunity. Offered through the University of Oslo, the ISS program brings a diverse set of students together every summer to study and interact with the goal of fostering intercultural understanding and goodwill. The program offers both intensive Master's and Bachelor's courses, from late June to late July, with over 550 students from about 90 countries; exactly what Stevens was looking for.
With a huge range of classes, including dentistry, peace research, and scandinavian film (offered in both English and Norwegian), Stevens was able to focus her semester on global poverty and development. Every weekday she attended class with a group of 18 students from 17 different countries, studying International Development through country comparisons and examination of global North/South relations with the intended purpose of gaining a global perspective, particularly in terms of how the United States’ actions around the world affect developing countries.
The class provided in-depth information on topics such as child domestic workers in Bangladesh, non-contraceptive use in Ethiopia, effects of climate change on farmlands in Ghana and Pakistan, and solar panels in India. Hearing from fellow classmates about their perspective on these issues as well as how the problems affect their respective countries gave Stevens a broader view on development issues throughout the world.
The ISS provided an ideal environment for her to learn from people from a variety of cultures such as the UK, Nigeria, and Brazil, many of whom became her friends, including her roommate, a sustainability masters student from Greece. On weekends, she was able to spend time with her new colleagues, taking trips to Bergen (a historic city in Norway), hiking a 10 mile mountain trail, and exploring the city of Oslo. On her way back to the US, she was able to top off the experience with a three-day stop in Iceland.
Overall, the experience certainly lived up to Stevens’ expectations. She was able to talk one on one with people in an unfamiliar context from countries around the world, something not every American has the chance to do. It helped her think more broadly about the United States’ role within the international community and the real-world impact it makes. Her big hope is to maintain her relationships with the people she met through the program and continue to stay informed on international issues from people living directly in those countries.