I Chose to Study “Abroad” in the U.S. by Gabriella Deconti ’18

Gabriella Deconti ’18
Majors: Environmental Policy; Government
The Washington Center
Spring 2017

When Colby gave me the opportunity to go abroad my freshman year for the Global Entry semester, I jumped at the opportunity. I had the most amazing time discovering the rich history of Dijon, France. I learned a lot about myself, as well. My first time away from home also happened to be my first time living in a foreign country – I found both to be very big transitions. There was culture shock, historical castles, weekend trips to Paris, and a lot of cheese. These were four months I would never want to change.

This was the view from my classroom in Dijon, France! Taken from inside the living room of our Professor Jonathan Weiss’s apartment.

When it came to deciding what I would do for my junior year, I quickly grew hesitant about studying abroad. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find an experience that would be worth it for me to spend another semester away from Colby. As much as exploring a new culture and country seemed ideal, I was hesitant. Instead of going abroad in the traditional sense, I ended up choosing a program that was based in the nation’s capitol and I have loved the chances it has given me. The Washington Center offers the experience of interning in Washington, D.C., as well as learning about professional practices like networking, the importance of civic engagement, while taking academic seminars.

Here in D.C., I constantly have new things to do. In my free time, I enjoy visiting the free institutions the city has to offer- like a Smithsonian or the United States Botanic Garden, pictured above.

I am spending my spring semester interning with a project funded by USAID that aims to reduce water in agricultural processes used by farmers in the developing world. As an Environmental Policy and Government double major, I have enjoyed the chance to work closely with the United States Agency for International Development and contribute to one of the world’s most pressing problems: water. Whether it’s with a hydro-powered water pump or new adapted technology used to predict drought faster and more accurately, I have witnessed innovations that have the potential to make great and broad impact.

Featured above is an organization we support from Bangladesh that uses a sandbar cropping technique, which turns barren land into profitable pumpkin harvests for the local communities.

Washington, D.C. is a city of networks. Not only does the city seem to run on the interns who work here, but also most professionals in the city were interns at one point, quite like myself. This has taught me that people here are willing to sit down and discuss their careers with students who are aspiring to one day enter into the field. I have sat down to chat with many professionals in order to touch upon advice and objectives for students aspiring towards careers in Government and Environmental Policy.

The city itself has so much to offer culturally, professionally, and academically. This article can only skim the surface of all I have done with my time here. This semester has taught me many lessons about my future career goals, and I’m planning to take these lessons back with me to Colby for my senior year. For now, I am taking a step back and enjoying the weather- not to mention trying desperately to get into Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum.

Cherry Blossoms, you will be sorely missed!