Sonja Schaefer

Graduation Year: 2016
Majors: Economics, Chinese Studies
Study Away: Antarctica and Argentina, J-Term 2014; IES Beijing, China Fall, 2014

My study away experiences informed me that the beginning transition of getting to know your new location in the world, the new role you play, the new task at hand, and the new people that surround you is exhausting, but so rewarding in the unexpected knowledge that you gain. I now work in Washington, DC in a congressional office. I keep the Congressman updated on pressing issues and write the Congressman’s official responses to constituents concerned about issues regarding immigration, Medicare, Medicaid, trade, labor, women’s rights and women’s health, agriculture, and justice. My job is incessant, but my study away experiences taught me that no matter the chaos, I come out on the other end having learned a whole lot. In one of those letter-to-yourself letters before the beginning of my semester program in Beijing, I wrote, “often the best part is the least expected.” And that remains true wherever I go, whatever I do.