Why the US? – Pauline Chong (University of Virginia ‘22)


After completing my A-Levels, I recall myself dreading the college application process. Since high school, I was set to read law in the UK not because I wanted to, but because everyone told me it was a good career option. Later on, I realized that I’m not cut out for the legal sector because if I was completely honest, I had no idea what I wanted to study in college. How are you supposed to simply decide on a college major when you have no clue what it entails? I yearned for the opportunity to explore and try different things, hopefully also finding out what I am passionate about during this process. When I became aware of the academic liberty that an American college education can provide, I figured this was exactly what I needed.

 I spent my first year in the US at a small, liberal arts college before transferring to the University of Virginia. Determined to make the most of my time here, I enrolled in the maximum amount of credits allowed each semester and did a credit overload in the past semester while juggling numerous club activities at the same time. I also took classes like Feminist Philosophy, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Nuclear Politics, which were crucial factors in my decision to declare a major in Foreign Affairs as it required interdisciplinary knowledge of various subjects that I was interested in.

The autonomy to shape my own education has been an extremely rewarding experience. This is because if you asked me what subject I would study in university when I was younger, I’d probably answer anything but Foreign Affairs as I just couldn’t wrap my head around politics. Today, I’ll still say that politics make my head spin but it has become an important part of my life and I have no regrets going down this route.