“I’ve always been interested in the environment, with a special interest in issues that transcend borders, so the opportunity to study International Studies with a focus on Global Environment and Health has been ideal for me. My courses and experiences have exposed me to the perfect balance of environmental science, public policy, and international relations. Amongst these experiences was studying abroad in Vienna, Austria during the second semester of my junior year. On top of learning about a new culture, language, and city, I saw firsthand how another country’s sustainability efforts differ from those of the U.S. Understanding how other cultures view and protect the environment will help me in my future career by providing me the ability to see multiple perspectives, which is essential to solving issues that impact people around the world. 

Not only did I see how Austria differs from the U.S., but I also traveled to other European nations with another Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) student. She is one of my best friends on campus, and our similar academic courses made us great travel buddies. I think one of the coolest parts of PICS is that while everyone is interested in international affairs, there are many different niches that make the group diverse. This allows us to learn from one another, as we’re all knowledgeable about different fields but have that similar base.

Due to COVID-19, my time abroad was cut short. Luckily, my passion for traveling and learning about other parts of the world will continue next year when I teach English in Thailand. I hope to take what I’ve learned through PICS and my time overseas to teach young students a language that opens many doors while also learning about the Thai culture from them.”

Erin Strauss

BA International Studies (Global Environment and Health) ‘21

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

Affiliations: University of Michigan Women's Basketball, Michigan Pre-Law Society, Center for Campus Involvement, Blood Drives United

Future plans: “I'd like to attend law school after taking a gap year to teach English in Thailand. I'm looking forward to traveling and exploring Asia, a part of the world I have not yet visited!”

Fondest memory of her experience in PICS: “PICS provided me with a grant to study abroad in Vienna, Austria. Although my time was cut short due to COVID-19, it was an amazing and transformative experience. I hope to make it back to Europe soon!”

Is there anything you would like to express to your peers, parents, professors, or others?: “Thank you for the encouragement, support, and laughs along the way. I couldn't have done it without you!”