Case study

MA International Security, University of Denver — Pallavi Gulati

Postgraduate study in the USA greatly broadened Pallavi's perspective, and she's now found work as a consultant for Regester Larkin...

What postgraduate course did you study?

MA International Security at the University of Denver.

Why did you choose to study in the USA?

With its position as a leading political, economic and military power, and one of the world's most influential actors in global security, the USA was the obvious choice. I knew studying at the University of Denver would enable me to learn from and work with some of the world's most influential scholars and professionals.

How did you fund your study?

I funded over 90% of my expenses through scholarships, grants and an on-campus job. I was offered the Fulbright Commission's All-Disciplines Postgraduate Award, the British Universities North America Club's (BUNAC) BEST Scholarship, the University of Denver's SiƩ Fellowship, and an on-campus research job in security.

What did your course involve?

At the core was security development, including: the relevance of state and non-state actors in preventing weapons proliferation; curbing violence and promoting peaceful transformation; the impact that conflict has on the political, economic and social development of a country; and the effectiveness and adequacy of post-war reconstruction efforts.

How did studying in the USA compare to the UK?

The academic differences between the two countries stem from content rather than classroom culture. In Denver, I spent considerable time studying security and national interest from an American standpoint. This change in focus helped develop my academic and policy perspectives on the global security and defence sector.

What was the most rewarding part of the experience?

As part of my course, I met former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, and former chief of staff of the United States Army General George W. Casey Jr. I also witnessed the University make history in October 2012, when it hosted the election season's first presidential debate.

My personal highlight, though, was living in the Rocky Mountains. I climbed 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and skied for the very first time.

What was the most challenging part of the experience?

Being away from family and friends for two years was difficult, but I combated this by immersing myself in American culture. I travelled the country, meeting amazing new people, eating new food and learning about many American sports. Given the cost of flights, I flew home only twice. However, distance and time difference don't have to be obstacles to regular communication. I found a cheap international phone package and scheduled regular Skype calls with my family to make me feel closer to home.

How do you feel you benefited from studying in the USA?

I now have friends all over the world and a renewed confidence in my ability to set and meet objectives. At a professional level, I have established a wide network of invaluable contacts in academia, industry and policy.

What advice would you have for anyone thinking of studying abroad?

Look beyond the 'Ivy League' universities; there are many others that offer a strong programme and are more likely to offer funding to international students. Also, give yourself as much time as possible to research and apply for scholarships and funding. While applications can be very time consuming, they're worth the investment.