I was on the Metro last night heading home from a dinner at Sherry’s house in honor of Giles Scott-Smith*, a funny and engaging British scholar based at Leiden University in the Netherlands, when I overheard a young man and woman near me talking about studying abroad. The young man said:
“You know, the best thing about study abroad was…”
At this I perked up and listened for what I thought might be a juicy, overheard-on-public-transportation endorsement of study and travel abroad. He continued:
“The best thing about study abroad was driving my advisor crazy. At least that was the best thing for me.”
Fair enough. At least he got something out of it, I guess. Unfortunately I didn’t hear any more of his trenchant international insights, as the train pulled into my stop. As a pack of us were waiting for the doors to open, a different young man asked a different young woman why she was holding a huge stack of folders in her arms, each one branded with the name of a different university (I saw Yale and Johns Hopkins on top).
“I was just at a graduate school fair,” she replied.
“Oh,” he said. “I’m looking for grad programs in international studies. Who organized it?”
“Idealist.org,” she said. “Here, you can have this.” She handed the young man a flyer of information about the fair. “Go to the website. There’s lots more information about schools.”
“Thanks,” he said. They smiled and we all got off the train.
Ah, the randomness of public transportation, where international careers begin and reflections on international experiences apparently tend to be rather shallow.
*Among other thing, Giles has turned his scholarly attention to the International Visitor Leadership Program. A few of his articles, on Margaret Thatcher and Nicolas Sarkozy’s experiences in the U.S. as young politicians, are in the NCIV library [scroll down to find them] and here’s his book on the IVLP from 1950-70.