After growing up in a developing country, Laura Hansen knew she wanted to attend a university where she could gather a broad range of knowledge in many subjects while being able to experience a diverse community. Clark University
ended up being that place. "I'm from Asuncion Paraguay. I was born in Washington DC and I am currently attending Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts."
"Clark was one of the schools I applied to because I knew it had a great reputation for social development and interaction with its community and I knew they put alot of emphasis on recruiting international students and really fostering a sense of diversity on campus which was something I was definitely looking for," she said.
"After having growned up in a devloping counry, I wasn't really sure how I was going to fit in the United States and I really wanted to make sure that because I had been exposed to so many different people and so many different ways of thinking and different cultures, that's not something I would lose by going to the United States and as much as I wanted to learn about the American culture I also wanted to have the opportunity to be exposed to other cultures as well. So Clark's diversity was a very large draw," she said.
Laura is in her second year and her academic course load consists of studies for a double major as well as a minor. "I decided to go for a double major in economics and international relations because they are the two fields that really interests me the most and I can't give up either one. I started reading other news sources about the economy and I just started thinking about it in my own time and reading more books and eventually it just turned into something that I actually love.
"I love studying the theoretical stuff," said Hansen. "I love trying to apply it and making my own regression models and finding coefficients and its something that completely relaxes me and makes me so happy so that is why I'm with economics. And international relations is sort of more of a convoluted sense of being I guess. I like to read alot and I like reading about different places and also its combined with a sincere love of history so I just like analyzing things and analyzing especially when it has to do with an international playing field. I like that kind of stuff so that is why I wanted to go with international relations."
"Then for international development I think that mostly stems out of the fact that even though I do have American citizenship I was raised in Paraguay that is my home that is my culture and we are a developing country and I really, really feel the urge to go back and help my country develop in anyway I can so I really would like to learn more about that," she said. "Finally, Asian studies is because after spending that year in India, I learned Hindi where I could speak it pretty well so I wanted to keep learning Asian languages and I figured if I wanted to go into something like economics and international relations, two emerging players on the global scene is India and China so really it is sort of detrimental to myself if I don't take advantage of the fact that Clark has a good Asian studies concentration I really should take the initiative and go study this more. But then I couldn't give up the previous three either so I settled with all four."
Keeping an open mind about some of her experiences Laura says has helped her adjust to some of the culture differences here in America. "In terms of education level I think I was very prepared to come here. I was completely prepared, but in terms of culture the first four or five times I went to the super market or a CVS it was a huge culture shock just seeing so much of everything like we can't get M&M's in Paraguay so if someone had a package of M&M's they were the most popular person for the day," she said. "It was a luxury and here it is so common and its just a few other like small culture things that threw me like Paraguayans aren't very good at gauging someone's perception of personal space so when we say hello to someone we go up and kiss them on both cheeks. That doesn't go over too well in America sometime so that was another thing that was a reminder that it's so important to be open minded when you come to study in the United States because there are so many other cultures and at the same time you can't even really say this is American culture because America has been such a melting pot which I think makes it such a wonderful place to study because I don't think any where else in the world you can be exposed to so many different aspects of so many different cultures sort of put into one and packaged as America."
Laura graduates from Clark University in 2012.