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September 2009

Volume 9 No. 10

The Newspaper of the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

A new era

Politics in Moscow By Nadine Szablya


his summer in Moscow I shared a two-bedroom apartment with a 45-ish year old writer and professor of history and political science and her 20-year-old daughter. We lived in an old Soviet-style apartment building with 18 floors and closet-sized elevators made to hold approximately two people and one tiny dog. The apartment itself was nice, though not by American standards. The flooring throughout most of the house was trashed wooden parquet, pulling up from the ground in spots. The walls were lined with stained plywood cabinets and peeling wallpaper and had been covered up with lots of pictures of my host when she was young, or pictures of her daughter, or her friend’s children. There were pictures of places visited, outdated maps of various countries, random scribbles and childhood graffiti, and other things that made my host family smile. There were piles of newspapers and I was startled and books everywhere. Technically, the toilet opened the door cauworked, but the lid to tiously to find a tallish the tank was long man, about my age, gone, and you had to with dark hair pulled both pull and then push this pin inside back in a ponytail and the tank to get it to with the beginnings of a flush. The adjacent moustache. bathroom was tiled – bright blue with a matching sink and tub, although the sink hadn’t worked in years. It also doubled as a laundry room. One Friday night, I was in the bathroom, midfirst-Russian-washing-my-clothes-by-hand-experience and trying to figure out how to get the last of the soap out of my jeans when there was a knock on the door. I was startled and opened the door cautiously to find a tallish man, about my age, with dark hair pulled back in a ponytail and with the beginnings of a moustache. He had absolutely no qualms about beckoning me from the bathroom with a knock followed by a sullen expression. I had never seen him before. He introduced himself as Valode and then said something to me in Russian that I gathered was some sort of invitation. From the kitchen, I heard the professor calling and inviting me in. In the kitchen on the table there was this beautiful, white, pink, and yellow cake, three cups of tea, and three plates. Valode, a man who looked well versed in the dark arts, was inviting me to join them for his birthday. We sat and ate this very strange, but very good cake that was layered with a sweet peanut- flavored frosting and this really yummy Styrofoam-like pastry. And we talked about… politics. I absolutely enjoy the Russian practice of skipping the niceties and delving right into an American’s worst nightmare of a conversation. I believe that in the Russian mind, the best way to get to know someone is through a series of the following questions. 1) What is your name? 2) Where do you (and every generation of your family) come from? 3) Where do you stand on politics? This was a new kind of political conversation though. Valode said he had met many American men, but never an American girl, and he wanted to Continued on page 6

The Observer sits down with Paul Alois, President of the Student Government Association, and his cabinet

Paul Alois, President, page 4

Sebastian Muehlbauer, Vice President, page 5

Anayo Osueke, Treasurer, page 4

May Nguyen, Social Chair

Sean Healey, First-Year Rep, page 5

Vadim Gorbach, First-Year Rep

Larina Helm, Bologna Rep, page 5

Studying Strategy in Afghanistan By Paul Kane On 3 July, after sixteen hours in the air and one night in Dubai,fellow SAISer Gabe Serrato and I arrived at Kabul International Airport. After walking across the tarmac to the terminal, we cleared immigration, and met our pointof-contact, an Afghan contractor. An armored Toyota Land Cruiser shuttled us to a compound not far from the American embassy, and a few days later to Camp Julien. Situated between two pockmarked, bombed-out palaces built by King Amanullah in the 1920’s, Camp Julien is a small collection of cement and plywood buildings, guard towers, latrines, and Tesco bomb shelters. A spartan facility Flying doors-open in a Blackhawk by US military standards, the camp is from Khost to Paktika. Khost Province, Afghanistan. home to about 40 military personnel and contractors tasked with operating CTC-A. The in that relationship building process. We had come director, Colonel John Agoglia, is energetic, enthuto Camp Julien to conduct research on the relationsiastic, unbelievably hardworking, and always ship between insurgent activity and road construcentertaining. He is also very interested in creating a tion in eastern Afghanistan. mutually beneficial relationship between academia The first couple of weeks included counterinand the military; Gabe and I represent an early step Continued on page 7


September 2009



e are a month into the semester, and you first years are starting to get the swing of things, you 2nd years are are starting to get "senioritis" and "jobitis." With first papers coming due and midterms looming around the corner, summer vacations, staycations and workations seem like years ago. This issue hopes to rewet your travel sense with some summer travel adventures of your fellow SAISers. Read carefully, first years, for tips for on how to make the best of your summer. As you know we have an entirely new SGA. They have been gracious enough to further introduce themselves to the student body via stop by pages 4-5 and get to know the ins and outs of the new crew working to make SAIS a fun, beer-filled, if not academic place. But seriously, get to know their faces and their stories, and make them work for you! We are excited to welcome the new first year writers! We know how busy the beginning of the semester can be and we appreciate your enthusiasm to a jump in and start contributing to the school. To our seasoned writers, welcome back! We've missed you. To those who like what they read here, have a strong opinion the school should here, or think you can do better, we challenge you to write for us! The Observer always needs more writers, cartoonists, and photo journalists! Your editors have come back from thrilling summers in Damascus, Arlington, and Toronto. We worked hard, played hard, learned arabic, consulting, and how the government works, and we are excited to share our experiences and invigorated to give back to you all via this your beloved, humble school paper. - Your Editors

The SAIS Observer Editors-in-Chief Samatha Watson Andre Castillo Graham Bocking Contributors Scott Abrahams Paul Alois Masha Bolotinskaya Lauren Cohen Nikolas Foster Jamie Huckabay Paul Kane Erin Kelley Jessica Lambertson Jinny Lee Chris Liu Nadine Szablya

Photos: Paul Alois Masha Bolotinskaya Vadim Gorbach Sean Healey Larina Helm Jamie Huckabay Paul Kane Erin Kelley

Sebastian Muehlbauer May Nguyen Anayo Osueke

The SAIS Observer is a news monthly written, edited, and produced by the students of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University. SAIS students, faculty and members of the administration at the Washington, D.C. campus, Bologna campus, and the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are encouraged to submit articles, letters to the editor, photographs, cartoons, and other items for consideration. Material for consideration or inquiries may be sent to : The SAIS Observer is an approved SAIS student organization. Opinions expressed in the SAIS Observer are not necessarily the views of the editors, SAIS, or the University.

The Observer welcomes accolades, denials, comments, critiques, and hate mail at

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Diversions: Keep your eyes and ears open and contribute to the sections below! Email us at with submissions

Verbatim What politicians and the SAIS community have been saying Is there a SAIS's most eligible bachelor, you know for the faculty?" - Anonymous SAIS Professor

“If you look at hunting-gathering societies, they screw around, then they go hunting, which is kind of fun, then they go back to doing nothing, then they go to war, which is also kinda fun. Really it’s the ideal life of a retiree.” - Anonymous SAIS Professor “I don’t like organismic, because it sounds like orgasmic, and I’m probably gonna drop a syllable, so I’ll go for organic.” - Anonymous SAIS Professor “Eunuchs might not be voluntary.” - Anonymous SAIS Professor “The recent trend has been to hide more of these…fluids…ejections…I dunno what to call it.” - Anonymous SAIS professor explaining how people are becoming more self-conscious about their bodily fluids “First you drink milk, then tomorrow milk is bad, then green tea, then green tea is no good, then alcohol is good for you alcohol is bad for you…how much time do they waste on this? You think it’s funny, but these are the things that create pogroms!” — anonymous SAIS professor on the changing nature of societal standards

By the Numbers of classes that raised their enrollment 3 Number cap. enrolled 5 Number Public

of in


students Canadian Policy

cap on a course at 50 Highest SAIS-International Financial (SA.380.772).


of students 117 Number enrolled in all four core courses combined.

of students 151 Number enrolled in all sections of Monetary this semester.

age people stop 8 Average believing in Santa Claus. age kids stop 12 Average trick or treating. Precent of the 100-top 13 grossing films of all time made by George Lucas or Steven Spielberg.

life expectancy, 4 inAverage seconds, of an enemy soldier in a Chuck Norris film.

of Chuck Norris 0 Number films in the 100-top grossing films of all time.

rate of unemploy9.6 Current ment in the United States. of dogs that sleep 47 Percent in a family member’s bed.

The Ostrich Who’s having a good month, and who might want to stick their heads in the sand and hope for better luck next month?



DC Cab Drivers DC cab drivers have apparently won some influence over DC Council Member Jim Graham.

Ted Loza Ted Loza, Chief of Staff to DC Council Member Graham, has been indicted for accepting $1500 in bribes from the "Taxi Lobby."

Career Club Happy Hours Career Clubs will not be forced to share their scarce happy hour slots with other clubs.

Non-Spanish speaking IDEVers Who, due to a new Spanish speaking requirement, will be unable to attend this year’s official IDEV trip to El Salvador, despite being told otherwise last year.

The New York Yankees After clinching the American League East division, the pinstripes remain a clear favorite to nab their 27th World Series title.

Kanye West Who, after his debacle with Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards, had the honor of being called a “jack ass” by President Obama.

Angela Merkel Merkel’s coalition posted a strong showing and was able to claim victory in the September 27 German elections.

Al Qaeda Who failed in their attempts to “sway” German public opinion away from Merkel by issuing a flurry of propoganda video tapes, with Gemran subtitles, just before the election.

September 2009


A SAISer’s guide to the D.C. area F By Lauren Cohen

or a short, glorious time in autumn, the weather in Washington, DC is beautiful. This is the prime time to get out of the library, and to see some of the following seasonal attractions the city has to offer. • The Kennedy Center Both the Opera and the Symphony seasons have just started at the Kennedy Center, and tickets are available for full-time students at half price. The Washington National Opera, directed by Plàcido Domingo, will be performing Falstaff, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Gotterdamerung. The National Symphony Orchestra is performing everything from Beethoven to musical math for children. Half-price tickets are also available for jazz concerts, dance recitals, plays, and other performances. Additionally, there is a daily performance at 6 PM for free on the Millennium Stage. Attendees can walk or take the free shuttle from the Foggy Bottom metro station. • Maryland Renaissance Festival If you need an excuse to play dress-up, the Maryland Renaissance Festival will be open Saturdays and Sundays through October 25, from 10:00 AM-7:00 PM. The festival grounds are set up to replicate an English Tudor village. Entertainment includes a variety of musical and theater acts, as well as combat demonstrations. The food includes such typical fare as turkey legs, fish and chips, Maryland’s famous crab cakes and seafood, as well as pizza and wraps for the faint of heart. Vendors will be selling a variety of period-themed products, such as jewelry, leather goods, armor, weaponry, glasswork, and costumes. Attendees can rent costumes just inside the fair entrance. Unfortunately, the Festival is located in Ann Arundel County, and is only accessible by car. • Washington Capitals September marks the start of the hockey season. The Washington Capitals have been the NHL Southeast Division Champions for two years running. MVP Alexander Ovechkin was recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article documenting his rise to fame, as well as his seeming imperviousness to physical pain. The team’s owner takes good care of the dedicated fans, who have been known to render the streets of Chinatown nearly impassible on many a game night. The Caps play at the Verizon Center, and fans can watch their morning practices for free at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex on top of the Ballston Mall in Arlington. • Bethesda Row Arts Festival On October 17 from 11 AM to 6 PM, and on October 18 from 11 AM to 5 PM, Bethesda Row will be lined by 180 artists, primarily from the Mid-Atlantic region. The Bethesda Arts Festival has been recognized as one of the top 200 fine arts shows in the United States. It features ceramics, drawing, jewelry, metalwork, paintings, prints, and many other forms of art. Throughout the festival, there will be live musical performances, an artist demonstration tent, street performers, and numerous food vendors. An art sale will be held to benefit the NIH Children’s Charities, which provide support for young medical patients. Bethesda Row is located on Woodmont and Bethesda Avenues, and on Elm Street, east of Arlington Road. It is easy walking distance from the Bethesda metro stop. • The National Zoo The National Zoo houses 2,000 animals representing approximately 400 species. Entry is free, as the zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. If you

By Masha Bolotinskaya


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SGA Monthly Report

The student government chimes in with announcements and reminders By Paul Alois, SGA President The first month of school has flown by, and your friendly neighborhood SGA has been hard at work. Thanks to the efforts of many people, the Orientation Weekend events went off without a hitch. We drank, we ate, we drank, we played sports, we drank, we volunteered... did I mention we drank? We also raised $2600 for SAIS alumna Hoa Tran - I have heard through several people that she is very touched by the continuing support of her SAIS family. The SGA has also been hard at work accommodating all the new clubs on campus. Due to the high number of clubs this year, for the first time noncareer clubs will have to share Happy Hours. Fortunately, we have already seen from fruitful alliances. The German Club and Homebrewers are pairing up, so hopefully we will have good some pilsner or hellasbraü. The Thai Club and SAIS Pride are sharing a spot - I have no politically correct commentary about that, but Sebastian wants me to work in the phrase "Happy Ending" somehow... The Welcome Back Party on September 12th went splendidly, so big ups to May Nguyen and Team Austria for pulling that one together so quickly! For those of you who missed it, we danced, we drank, and we handcuffed random people together... what more could you want in a party? In all seriousness though, the pervasiveness of SAIS's three big cliques (1st year, 2nd year DC, and 2nd year Bologna) does impact the school's culture. I think this party went a long way towards integrating the different cliques, a trend I hope to see continue. Lastly, on September 25th we had a joint Happy Hour with Georgetown. The proceeds from this event will go towards a joint event with them in the spring. I hope to make this an annual event that draws our schools closer together. Thats all for now! Paul Alois go early in October, you may get to see some of the animals, such as the golden lion tamarins (endangered monkeys from Brazil), roam the park as part of a program to eventually release them into the wild. The Zoo also has two different Halloween events in the works. Students with young children may wish to take them to Boo at the Zoo, where, from October 23-25, they can go trick or treating, as well as participate in animal encounters and discussions with zookeepers. The over-21 crowd can attend the Night of the Living Zoo on October 30, where they will watch “palm readers, fire eaters, talking bats, and illusionists.” There will be music, food, beer, and prizes awarded for the best group costume. Both Boo at the Zoo and Night of the Living Zoo cost $15 for members of Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) and $25 for nonmembers. • Running of the Drag Queens Halloween in Dupont Circle officially begins this year on October 27, when the annual Pamplona-inspired DC Drag Queen Race will take place. More than 100 intricately costumed drag queens will run along 17th St. from JR’s Bar and Grille to Trio Restaurant for the chance to win $50. Spectators regularly number in the thousands and usually include DC Mayor Adrian Fenty. Although the race begins at 9 PM, spectators regularly show up as early as 6 PM to get a prime viewing spot. Lauren Cohen is a first year M.A. candidate in Middle East Studies.

Ramblings on a SAISer’s Summer Travels

his past summer has been a time of intense traveling, socializing, professional development and, most importantly, language immersion. I have not done so much traveling within a three-month period since I was an undergrad doing a semester at NYU in Florence. SAIS is a great place. Not just for the academic experiences, for the networking, and great friends, but also because it makes it fairly easy, from both a practical and financial standpoint, to find an internship outside of the country. Preparing for my summer, I chose to speak to with Professor Charles Gati, who recommended me as a summer intern to the Director of Freedom House Europe. Freedom House Europe is most know for their Nations in Transit publication. Nations in Transit looks at countries in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union and gives each country democracy ratings based on indicators such as: independent media, electoral process, civil society, local and national government, judicial framework and independence, and corruption. After a somewhat informal application process and a phone interview conducted entirely in Russian, I found myself heading to the airport to catch a flight to Budapest, Hungary. Working for Freedom House was a wonderful opportunity. I met wonderful people both at work and outside of work. I learned a great deal about the process of rating countries and compiling Freedom House country

Masha with Andre Castillo (left) and Francisco Vázquez Ahued at Qala’a Salaah ad-din (Saladdin Castle) in Syria.

Continued on page 7

September 2009


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Interview with SGA President Paul Alois By Scott Abrahams


aul Alois is a second year M.A. student concentrating in International Law and is the president of the Student Government Association (SGA). He sat down with the Observer to talk about SGA, SAIS, and even some things that do not start with 's' and are abbreviated. Scott: (in Chinese) So, I hear you speak Chinese. Paul: (in Chinese) Yes, I took the proficiency test last semester. Paul Alois, SGA President S: (not in Chinese) Did you live in China? Where besides DC have you lived before? P: I never actually lived in China. My dad was in the U.S. Foreign Service, so I grew up in Latin America and Italy and Germany. And Florida was my one place in the U.S. The main perk is that S: Can you speak Spanish? P: It's been a while, so my speaking is rusty, you get to really be but I can mostly understand what people are completely immersed saying. S: In addition to being a first year representa- in the school, the culture, the people, and tive last year, you also founded the Amnesty International Club at SAIS. learning about the P: I worked at Amnesty International before I administration. came here. Every university in DC had a chapter but SAIS. We didn't have any clubs related to human rights, which was something I thought we should rectify. S: Why did you decide to get involved in student government? P: SAIS was my top choice program. I was not at all into my high school or college, but was really excited to be at my top choice. I wanted to get as immersed in the program as possible. Also, I worked in DC for two years before that, doing research at a think tank. That work was very academic, and although that is great, I realized that being effective also requires some of the more mundane stuff, like meetings and budgets. I thought that SGA was a good way to enhance that skill set, and it has. S: Do you have a title you prefer? For example, there was Alexander the Great, Hagar the Horrible...? P: I like El Jefe. In my Chinese class, I told my teacher to call me Chairman For Life. S: Do you have a leadership role model? P: I do. In War and Peace, Tolstoy writes about General Kutuzov. I like his management style. He accepts that 90% of what goes on he can't control. He accepts that and focuses on the 10% he can. S: What's the 10% of SGA you can control? P: It's different every time. The number of clubs S: What are the perks of being president? P: The main perk is that you get to really be this year is bigger than completely immersed in the school, the culever. I think that five ture, the people, and learning about the years ago there weren't administration. For me it's a challenge, not in the academic sense, but more of a chalany student clubs at all, lenge organizing things and people. and now there are over S: What's an example of a challenge you've 35, and coordinating all faced? of that is pretty P: I've spent a lot of time working on this, which I hadn't anticipated: the number of challenging. clubs this year is bigger than ever. I think that five years ago there weren't any student clubs at all, and now there are over 35, and coordinating all of that is pretty challenging. This is the first year that non career clubs have to share happy hours. Also, funding for clubs comes out of the SGA budget, so our budget this year is lower than before. S: What have you had to cut back on as a result? P: We haven't had to cut back on anything planned, but a lot of spending in the past has been on an ad hoc basis, which we won't really be able to do now. S: How do you balance your SGA work with your academic workload? P: I put academics first, so if I had to decide between SGA work or class work, that's the way I would go, but it hasn't ever gotten to that point. S: What has been your favorite SGA memory so far? P: Last year, the presidential inauguration was the day before the first day of classes in spring semester. We had an inaugural ball here in Kenney that was a great time. People went down to the mall during the day, got nicely dressed up, then came back here for good food, good drinks and good times. S: How about this year? What's an event that you're really excited about? P: On September 25, we're having a joint happy hour with the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. The money from that will be used to fund anoth-

er joint event in the spring. I'm really hoping that this can become an annual thing to build a better relationship between the schools. S: You've lived in Latin America and Europe, and worked for a think tank, Amnesty International, and the World Bank, and are now at SAIS. Where do you go from there? P: I'm hoping to move to New York next year. There are a couple of PhD programs in political science I'm interested in. I'm married, and my wife really wants to go do her residency in New York. S: Are you thinking of going into academia? P: I haven't decided yet. I'd like to go into teaching, but I'm not sure about a tenure track position at a university. The thought of teaching 200 18 year-olds in a lecture hall is not appealing. You may as well just put that up on YouTube. I really liked working at the World Bank, and I wouldn't mind going back to work there and teaching some classes at night. S: You could be a professor at SAIS. P: Exactly. S: Finish this sentence: “Thanks to the SGA, SAIS students...” P: Get cheap beer every Friday. S: What's a fun fact about you that you'd like to share with the student body? P: I love, no, I'm addicted to ping pong. So, if anyone wants a game, just come find me and I'll be up for it. S: Do you want to play? P: Now? Sure. Scott Abrahams is a first year M.A. candidate in China Studies

Interview with Anayo Osueke By Jessica Lambertson Jessica: Why did you decide to go to SAIS in the first place? Anayo: SAIS is an outstanding community. Just meeting and chatting with a fellow classmate is often just as educational and fascinating as a full lecture in an academic course. The challenging curriculum and rigorous competitiveness of SAIS also attracted me to the school. Jessica: Tell me a little bit about your background, Anayo Osueke, SGA and what you hope to bring to the Treasurer posiTreasurer tion. Anayo: My parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria. After moving around a bit in Texas they settled in Houston, where I grew up. I picked up an interest in community development while studying at Morehouse College. From there, I traveled, I traveled, volun- volunteered, and sought adventure. In spite teered, and sought of myself, I survived. Along the way I adventure. In spite of refined my interest in development and community involvement. As the treasurer, I hope myself, I survived. that my hard work ethic and approachable Along the way I style both personalize the position and refined my interest in increase the general openness of the SGA. development and com- Jessica: What made you decide to run for SGA? munity involvement. Anayo: SAIS has an amazing student body. SGA's role in helping to improve the student's experience of SAIS sparked my decision to run. Jessica: What made you interested in this position specifically? Anayo: The technical aspects of accounting and succinctly communicating information attracted me to the position of Treasurer. Jessica: What do you hope to do as a member of SGA? Anayo: I hope to build on the successes of the previous SGA to improve the transparency and responsiveness of the SGA to the student body. Jessica: Is there any issue you want to tackle right away? Anayo: I'd like to improve the feedback mechanism between the SGA and the student body. Jessica: What are your main responsibilities as a part of SGA? Anayo: My main responsibility is to account for the budget of both SGA and the respective student organizations. Jessica Lambertson is a second year M.A. candidate in Latin America Studies.

Next issue: 

Interview with Social Chair May Nguyen

and the to-be-named M.I.P.P. representative. (First year representative Vadim Gorbach declined to be interviewed).

September 2009


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Interview with SGA Vice President Sebastian Muehlbauer By Chris Liu


ebastian Muehlbauer is from Vienna, Austria and naturally grew up with a passion for classical music. He sang in a choir since he was 12 and was the singer for a rock band for 2 years. As he grew older, Sebastian also began to explore a wide variety of other interests and initially chose to study German, French, politics, and communications in university. A pivotal moment in Sebastian’s life came when he studied as an exchange student in France through the Erasmus (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of SGA Vice President University Students) Program and fell in love Sebastian Muehlbauer with the city of Paris. He finished his degree at Paris III: Sorbonne University with a degree in Business, French, and Italian. He continued to pursue his master’s degree there and spent one year at NYU studying politics. Last year Sebastian studied at the SAIS Bologna campus where he was in charge of organizing the annual Bologna Austrian Ball, a tradition that has been ongoing for 30 years. Sebastian and other Austrian students brought over 200 students to Vienna and the event was an astounding success. His experience organizing the Austrian Ball inspired him to take a leadership position at SAIS. Says Sebastian, “I felt I had gained the trust of my fellow students. I genuinely cared for their opinions and needs. I hope to continue to build my leadership skills and serve the students at SAIS.” Sebastian feels that the relationships he built in Bologna were extremely personal rather than political. He is especially concerned with helping former Bologna students transition to life in D.C., and clear up any misconceptions students from different campuses may have of each other. Sebastian himself is still trying to figure out D.C. He loves the rush of

living in big cities such as Vienna, Paris, and New York. However, D.C. is an odd mix of both; a provincial-looking city that has both a metropolitan and suburban feel. He says, “I know that D.C. is a city with motivated and busy people, but I hope we can take the time out to get to know each other. We are not a big school and the SAIS experience is special but fleeting.” At SAIS, Sebastian is an IPE and Finance concentrator. He hopes that he can learn to think more professionally this year at SAIS. Sebastian has interned for 2 months at the United Nations in the Economic and Social Council and enjoyed the experience tremendously. However, Sebastian will probably not be interning this year at SAIS. “I generally don’t support students interning while studying because it takes from the experience of school.” This semester he will be taking Multi Corporate Finance, Financial Derivatives and Risk Management, Russian & the New Eurasia, and Global Business Strategy. Also he is learning Russian. As for the SGA experience, Sebastian is extremely excited to be working with the current team. “Paul was a 1st year representative last year so he is very organized and knows everything that is going on. Anayo is great with numbers, May is so active and helpful and Larina does a great job of caring about issues concerning former Bologna students.” Sebastian has a special interest in academic affairs and has already held a meeting. He was very happy with the large turnout and believes the student committees will greatly increase academic quality. He says, “I love to complain about what is wrong. I am not afraid to express my opinions and I believe that this will help stimulate improvement.” The SAIS school year looks to be an exciting one and Sebastian will surely try to participate fully in student life. As a final message to students, Sebastian hopes that we can all come together and get to know each other more closely, “Our experience here at SAIS is truly special. I hope all of us can step back from their professional focus and be more of a student.” Chris Liu is a first year M.A. candidate in Korea and Southeast Asia Studies

Two for one: first year, Bologna reps share thoughts  By Jinny Lee I had the opportunity to interview new SGA representatives Larina Helm, the Bologna Representative, and Sean Healey, one of two first year representatives. What follows is the personal interviews of these two new SAIS figures in the SGA. Jinny: Tell us a bit about your background. Larina: I'm from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I studied First-year representainternational relations and economics at Boston tive Sean Healey University and I’m studying Energy, Resources and Environment Policy here at SAIS. I plan to work in the U.S. Foreign Service after SAIS. I enjoy traveling, cooking, eating, watching great movies, being outdoors, rooting for the Boston Red Sox, and spending time with friends and family. Sean: I grew up in Long Beach, California. I come from a working class background, I was the first from either side of my family to attend college. After graduating from high school, I moved to New York to do my undergraduate studies at NYU. I double-majored in Film and Politics, with my home college being the Tisch School of the Arts. After graduating in 2004, I started working at the Council on Foreign Relations. After working at CFR for about 7 months, I joined the Benenson Strategy Group, when it was still small. It was a great place to get my feet wet as I instantly had much more responsibility there than I would have had at a bigger firm. We did a lot of great work, culminating with Joel Benenson, the founder, leading the polling team for Obama's Presidential campaign. I left BSG in Sept 2008 to move to China. I received a scholarship from the Chinese government to study Chinese at a university in Beijing. By that point, I had already been thinking about applying to programs like SAIS or Georgetown for nearly a year, so I thought it would be a great experience before my graduate studies. I studied for one year in Beijing and returned to the US right before Pre-Term. I am concentrating in China Studies and will also complete a specialization in international finance. I'm interested in working in China and Hong Kong, ideally in the areas of private equity, consulting and banking. Jinny: What went into your decision to become representative? Larina: I love my Bologna family, and I loved helping out with events and making student life enjoyable last year in Bologna. For this year, I wanted to help the Bolognese integrate into the greater SAIS community, as well as continue facilitating a fun student environment at SAIS. This is something I really hope to achieve.

Sean: SAIS is a dynamic community with people from all backgrounds. Being the representative seemed like a great way to get to meet everyone, especially those who are not MA1's. I also enjoy planning events (talk to anyone who went to my elaborate birthday party two weeks ago!) and seeing my friends having a good time. Bologna representa- Additionally, this is my education and I want my tive Larina Helm voice and views to be considered. What better way to do that than getting involved in the SGA? Jinny: What the best thing abut getting elected as a representative Larina: More emails! My biggest priority is Sean: I received a lot of congratulatory emails, to gather feedback Facebook posts and kind words from people from the students and about the election. It's always inspiring to hear people express their thanks. Since the speeches ensure that their ideas last Friday, I've also had a number of people are implemented, or at come up to me with suggestions for the school. the very least, serious- I like being the sounding board for their ideas ly debated and consid- and constructive criticism. Jinny: What are the major things that you ered by the senior would like to change, improve, or work on at officers and adminis- SAIS? Sean: I think the 2nd year officers have a better tration. grasp of what needs to be fixed or improved. They also know where to go to get things done and what's been attempted in the past. I'm still learning! I do want to ensure that we have a lot of fun, inclusive events that brings our school together. But my biggest priority is to gather feedback from the students and ensure that their ideas are implemented, or at the very least, seriously debated and considered by the senior officers and administration. Compared to the monstrosity that is NYU, the bureaucracy at SAIS seems minimal. Hopefully that will means we can affect change easily. Larina: I'd really like to organize some events that help bring the whole SAIS community together, and to better integrate Bologna and DC 2nd year students with current first-year students. These events will hopefully bring a little slice of Bolognese life to DC, as well as bring Washington to life for those who are here for the first time (or the first time in a long time) so that we can all share some of the best that Italy and Washington have to offer. Jinny: Has Washington DC served you well so far? Continued on page 4

September 2009


Moscow politics continued Continued from page 1

know my opinion of everything. I stumbled over where to begin in explaining my views on such a broad topic, and was quickly prompted to answer the forefront question in every Russian mind upon meeting an American - how do I feel about Obama? We promptly exhausted my Russian vocabulary on the topic, allowing me to turn the tables, asking them their views on American politics. Valode really wasn’t sure how to answer, but my host, as a professor of history and political science, was apt and happy to catalog everything wrong with this great free nation of ours. She listed, without hesitation, the following: Number One. Americans are not smart about the decisions they make and, as a young nation we have no sense of real history. Number Two. Americans have global control. Number Three. Americans don’t have any real strategy when it comes to international relations. I was then asked my thoughts on what might be the fourth thing wrong with American politics. I love being put on the spot when people know that you are in graduate school, studying international relations. Not only do they want to know your opinion, but have also stacked every question to set you up for failure. It’s a game really. “Well, this person is supposed to know everything about everything in the history of international relations, so I’m going to stump them and show I know more than they do.” Try playing this game in Russian. It’s even better. I mumbled something about U.S. politics of the last 8 years as my easy-out fourth choice. You can’t imagine how hard it is to explain these things with the vocabulary of a fourth grader. Back to Americans not having a sense of strategy globally. According to Valode, this is because we do not study chess when we are children. He asked me if I know how to play chess. I do understand the basics of the game, but not wanting to invite another challenge to my intelligence and the intelligence of all Americans, I said no. And then it was settled. We were going to play chess and he was going to teach me. So on this unassuming Friday night, instead of going out to weave my way through another bizarre and colorful night in the infamous debauchery of riotous Moscow, I learned the “classic” strategy of chess… po - Russki! There was very little help from a dictionary. We played out all kinds of strategies and spoke literally maybe five English words all night. Two of these were something that he learned somewhere else – “cool move.” Every time I would make a strategically respectable move he would say, “cool move,” slowly and in a very heavy Russian accent. And every time I was getting myself into trouble he would say ehhhh… His helpful grunts were clearly designed to give me just enough confidence and direction to make the game interesting while preserving victory for himself. About seven-eighths of the way through the game I started thinking the full five moves ahead and saw a bright little glimmering spot of hope on the board. Innocently enough, I declined his advice and ignored his protests and played those five moves through. In the end, much to Valode’s dismay, I won. Number four? Americans do not know how to play chess. For more bizarre anecdotes of politics and people from my first time in Moscow visit: Nadine Szablya is a 2nd year MA candidate in Russian and Eurasian Studies.

Page 6

Truth and Fiction, SAIS and the real world: A Commentary By Nikolas Foster As the craziness of the first month of the semester dies down, it is high time to review some of the axioms of SAIS education and how they are applied in practice. As the joke goes, when you pull a blank during orals, just answer “Free Trade!” and the examiners will give you that $60,000 nod. But, there is more. During our stint at SAIS, we budding free marketers are steeped in the truisms of perfect information, perfect competition, deregulation and other fundamentals of that good ol’ Washington Consensus. certain Yet, activities here seem to undermine the core of these cherished maxims. Shocked, we see how even before we test our economic skills, in that world outside of the Nitze Courtyard, our dearest theories are stabbed in the back by gasp- that same institution that preached these marvels in the first place! Let’s lay out the indictment: Perfect information is one of the fundamentals of good decision making- be it for Goldman Sachs’s decision to buy another high frequency trading super computer, or, the even more relevant need for perfect information to base our decisions of the choosing of classes. For the students, at least, there are syllabi and evaluations at hand so that we can see how our predecessors fared in the preceding semesters. You can only imagine the perturbation students went through when one of these two tools was snatched away. There are, for example, no evaluations posted for SAIS course 400.808. This is quite strange, since I remember my Fall 2008 classmates filling out reviews and evaluations very diligently as they had a thing or two to tell successive students interested in taking this class. Have

As the joke goes, when you pull a blank during orals, just answer “Free Trade!”

Hungary continued

Continued from page 3

reports, but I also learned an immense amount about the countries analyzed in Nations in Transit through the process of editing. Additionally, thanks to Freedom House I went to a European Union Human Rights Conference at the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by a cruise on the Danube River, in the pouring rain. I loved dancing Budapest looks amaz- Tango outside of the ing from a boat at sunRoyal Palace on the set, by the way and I Buda side at sunset. have a lot of photographic evidence testifying to the fact. Budapest is a beautiful city with a fairly efficient transit system. It is a great place to just walk around and take in the sites. Budapest has an absolutely stunning National Opera House, built to rival the Paris Opera and admission for a performance is less than USD5. The largest synagogue in Europe, second largest only to Temple Emanu-El in New York City, is also there. While theaters are numerous, it is odd to find American musicals, entirely translated into Hungarian, prominent within them. The dessert and coffee culture is vibrant, as is amazing food that comes to you in portions large enough to feed a family of five from the west, or possibly an entire small island nation in the Pacific. Additionally, Budapest also has thriving Argentine Tango and Salsa scenes. I loved dancing Tango outside of the Royal Palace on the Buda side at sunset. Budapest is centrally located, allowing for bus or train travel to a number of other European capitals. A weekend in Zagreb with friends was just a six hour train ride, while 3 travel hours got me a

they been lost? Suppressed? Data glitch? J’accuse! Next, is a rite of passage that has been driving graduating students ad delirium during that special time at the end of their academic career. It is the custom of experiencing how the monopolist intersects the marginal cost and marginal revenue curves and from that intersection draws a line up to the demand curve at- hang on- exactly $60 for a musty cap and gown. No competition, no other provider, no recycling of that same looking college gown that’s been hanging out in your drawer for six years- nada. A measly six hours of sweaty polyester-ness for what you could rent a tuxedo for a night. What’s up with that? Last on this enumeration of duplicitous deceitfulness is our one chance to venture into strategic thinking and betting outside of the classroom- the bidding process. Lucky are the few that hedged their points and enter their last semesters with bountiful quadruple digits in the bidding bag. Yet our free points-for-access trade scheme is rendered useless by an archaic leftover of the pre modern times: nepotism, born out of class sizes so limited that they can only admit their own. If thou aren’t of the brotherhood of Strategic Studies you can propel your 1500 bidding points up your derrière. May the highest bidder win? Nope. Non-concentrators trying to get into a class with Cohen, Kilcullen, or whoever the latest hot shot du C.O.I.N. might have no chance in overcoming their Most UnFavoured Nation status in the bidding world. It’s been a rude awakening. For all you fellow disillusioned, I feel for you. Maybe SAIS is just trying to teach us about the difference between practice and theory by employing a giant reality show called the real world versus micro-macrotrade-monetary-plus-two-econ-elective-palooza. Oh well, I hope this doesn’t get me voted off…. Nikolas Foster is a second year M.A. candidate in Energy, Resources, and the Environment. weekend in Vienna. The train to Vienna has the added benefit of using your train ticket to Vienna for the public transport system in Vienna as an unlimited weekend pass. The opposite is also true if you are traveling from Vienna to Budapest. Sadly, even though I am a pretty good language student (I speak seven languages, some better than others), unfortunately, I was unable to pick up more than 4 words in Hungarian in my eight weeks in the country. Bumming around Europe was just a teaser of travel, so I decided to join the SAIS mafia, the summer in Syria chapter, for three weeks. I arrived in Damascus with the express goal of learning more Arabic, where to my dismay I discovered that I am petrified of speaking with strangers! A room at a house with six other SAIS students was open and in broken Arabic, I negotiated my three week rental. The house was absolutely gorgeous and the roof was the best feature. From our roof you could see the entire old city. The roof of our house hosted many dinner parties with discussion of current events as well the overall political situation and key players in the region. Our house was next to the Sayyida Ruqayya mosque, in the Old City in Damascus. A friend told me that Nouri al-Maliki Iraq’s current Prime Minister, while in exile lived in the Old City and sold trinkets in front of that very mosque. Walking around this Sayyida Ruqayya, I had this feeling that I was the only person driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The funny thing is that this feeling occurred irrespective of the direction I was walking in. Living back in the Middle East I rediscovered three dormant skills: the art of elbowing people around me to walk from point A to point B, pushing my way to the front of the line (lines don’t actually exist in the region, it is Continued on next page

September 2009


Page 7

Afghanistan continued

There were two challenges in particular that really stand out. First, there was the challenge of just finding people that were qualified to answer Continued from page 1 interview questions. The main problem was that, surgency seminars, training courses, and visits to just prior to my arrival in Afghanistan, many of the Afghan National Army (ANA) training facilithe Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) ties. Shortly thereafter I flew out to a Forward rotated out, meaning that in some cases I had Operating Base (FOB) about 20 miles from the more in-country experience than the people I was Pakistani border in interviewing. Making matters worse, the transI had a great Khost province. mittance of institutional knowledge from one From the FOB in experience in the unit to the next is not the PRTs’ strong suit. Khost, I traveled by Thus, in many cases PRT members could not provinces, but the Blackhawk up to even relay information or lessons that they had summer was not Gardez, in Paktia learned from their predecessors. Fortunately, province, and down to without its many PRT members had been in country before, Sharan, in Paktika and there were always those government challenges. province. In all three employees, contractors, and soldiers that were provinces—Khost, not attached to the PRTs and had been in-country Paktia, and Paktika—I was fortunate enough to be longer. Furthermore, I was able to (legally) able to interview a wide range of civilian and mil- acquire a collection of government documents itary personnel. DoS Foreign Service Officers, that have proven to be invaluable sources of USAID reps, Human Terrain Team (HTT) meminformation. bers, US Army Corps of Engineers, USDA reps, Paul (right) with fellow Strategic Studies stuSecond, logistical issues, especially travel, dent Gabriel Serrato. just before their last conDoD civilians, Afghan interpreters, contractors, were a frustrating exercise. I spent several days voy out of Camp Julien on 3 September. military personnel, and intelligence officers were in mid-July sitting at airfield in Kabul trying to Camp Julien, Kabul, Afghanistan. all extremely helpful, often taking an hour or hitch a ride on choppers heading down to the more out of their busy schedules to answer my southeast. Every time an overloaded Chinook questions. I had a great experience out in P2K, as (think olive drab, flying school bus) would (COPs) along the Pakistani border, only the region is known, but the summer was not swoop in, I would be engulfed in a On one occasion, I to be deposited back at the FOB that we without its challenges. cloud of dust and pelted with marwas treated to a had flown out of two hours earlier. ble-sized pebbles. For a guy that has spent a good porromantic, moonlit Inevitably, the tail-guntion of the last five years of his life ner would run out, we Blackhawk tour of studying Afghanistan and counterinsurwould try to communihalf a dozen Combat gency, my experience this past summer cate over the din of the Outposts (COPs) really was more than I could have hoped idle chopper; he would Not only was I able to make some shake his head, and off along the Pakistani for. great connections, and learn about the they’d fly. Eventually, border. lives and work of the folks serving in though, I did find a spot Afghanistan, but I was also able see what in a Chinook for the it’s like to be near the front lines in a counterinsurone-hour flight to Khost. A few gency campaign. Based on what I saw over the weeks later, when the time came to summer, I think that our people in Afghanistan— leave, getting out of the province was civilian and military—are the most capable, qualianother ordeal. I spent five days fied, and dedicated people that our country has to waiting for the weather to improve so offer, and, given enough time, resources, and guidthe choppers could get over the pass ance, they will be able stabilize the country. that led out of the Khost bowl. On Paul Kane is a second year M.A. candidate in one occasion, I was treated to a G.I.s waiting for a 5:00 a.m. departure from the Sharana Strategic Studies. romantic, moonlit Blackhawk tour of airfield. Forward Operating Base, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. half a dozen Combat Outposts

Hungary continued Continued from previous page more like a beehive formation), and yelling in a foreign language to get my point across. A few days after my arrival I started taking private classes with Basel Nejem, an excellent Arabic tutor in the Christian Quarter of Damascus. After several two and a half hour (10 minute juice break, creating the distinct feeling of summer camp) sessions of Arabic, I discovered that I was able to engage random people in conversation by both asking for help and just talking about everyday things. Shedding my inhibitions about talking to strangers in Arabic really helped me learn more and get more confident expressing ideas in Arabic. As a result of my Syria adventure, I am much more confident speaking in class, which recently culminated in a two hour conversation entirely in Arabic! Syria is a beautiful place with warm and friendly people. I feel fortunate that I had an opportunity to travel to Palmyra, Bosra, and two medieval crusader castles with my SAIS classmates. In terms of Arabic study, the Arabic in Syria is the closest to the Modern Standard Arabic that we study at SAIS. Very few people speak English there, which means that if any of you are looking for complete Arabic language immersion, Syria is the place to go. Masha Bolotinskaya is a second year M.A. candidate in Eurasia Studies.

Larina, Sean continued Larina: Yes. Quite. Sean: DC is actually a lot cooler than I originally thought it would be. The Dupont area reminds me a lot of the West Village and Chelsea in NYC, where I lived for a number of years. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to enjoy the DC cultural sights. The library seems to monopolize too much of my weekends! Jinny: Choose one word in each category and explain why. Beer or Wine. Sean: Beer. Because the French would never call Moet "the beer of champagnes." Larina: If I had to choose I'd say beer in DC, wine in Bologna. Jinny: Nitze or Rome Sean: Nitze for the win. It has a much more vibrant energy than Rome. It has group study rooms, the library, events in Kenney, the ping pong table and my locker. And all my favorite ladies working in the cafe making me pizza and sandwiches. Larina: Rome. Duh, it has the Colosseum! Jinny: What is your dream honeymoon spot? Larina: Well I suppose I'd have to examine the opportunity cost of some place tropical and exotic versus some place more traditional... Sean: I've been fortunate in that I've already done quite a bit of traveling. I would probably either choose India or motorcycling through Eastern Europe. Patagonia would also be incredible.

Continued from page 4 Jinny: Anything you want to say to your fellow SAISers Larina: Enjoy the year, and please let me and any of the other SGA members know if there is anything we can do to make this year a great year at SAIS! Sean: Get involved in school, whether it be the SGA, a club or just throwing parties at your house. We have a few different committees with the SGA and we'd love to get more 1st year and MIPP students involved. The Career Services people were right when they said that fellow SAISers will be your best resource once you've left the school, so you do yourself a disservice if you don't meet as many people as possible. So don't live in the library, it probably won't help you get that first (or sixth) job. Additionally, if you're unhappy with something, get involved and let your voice be heard. The squeaky wheel gets the oil, right? I like hearing your complaints, but also let us know what is going right at the school. When we know what you like, we will make sure those things happen again. Also, I've found that a "thank you" goes a long way with administrators, school staff, professors and TA's. Remember to say it and they'll be happy to help you out the next time you need a favor. Jinny Lee is a second year M.A. candidate in International Policy-Environment.


September 2009

Page 8

Ask the SAIS Guy Introducing a new format to the beloved “Ask the SAIS Guy” column, the responsibilities for passing on life’s wisdom to SAIS students in need will be shared by Jamie Huckabay and Erin Kelley. The SAIS Guy and SAIS Gal answer your questions each month on love, life, and President Obama’s second coming. Today’s topics: cooking tips and finding balance.

Dear SAIS Guy: I’m mired in my first semester at SAIS and I can’t find time to cook. Any ideas? - Ravenous in Rome Dear Ravenous in Rome: By Jamie Huckabay They didn’t tell you in the SAIS calendar, but a serious (and common) side-effect of starting graduate school is cooking regress-itis. This is the technical term for regression to the state of a college junior who lives on cafeteria pizza slices and anything they can scrounge The bottom line is that sophisticated, urban from events in the Kenney Auditorium. Those of us who can’t kick the problem by SAIS students preparsecond term discover that empanada store ing for future leaderon Connecticut and argue that a different ship should not eat the filling constitutes an entirely different meal. same thing four days a I’ve heard all the arguments. It’s the week. evening classes on Mondays and Tuesdays; I live way out in Bethesda; I only have a hot plate; the macro mid-term is coming up. The bottom line is that sophisticated, urban SAIS students preparing for future leadership should not be eating yogurt past 8pm, nor should we eat the same thing four days a week. However, there is a rare breed of students out there who have found a path out of this quagmire. I’ve searched them out asked them their suggestions on meal ideas and strategies that can cure your problem. This ain’t your mama’s cooking, but it should be a step up from what you’ve been having. Use that slow-cooker: These contraptions aren’t just for Sunday lunches with your family, they are actually a very simple way to cook

healthily. You can mix the ingredients before going to sleep and turn it on before you leave for school. When you arrive home the next evening, supper will be ready to go. Pre-cut your vegetables: Set aside a bit of time on the weekend to prepare vegetables for the upcoming week. That way you can do the clean up only once and have fresh food at-hand. These are also perfect as a substitute for those Doritos if you need a snack. Cook larger batches and then store them for later: Just don’t use this as an excuse to eat the same thing Monday through Friday. George Forman Grill: While they may be a bit of a pain to clean, the Forman Grill was invented with the student in mind. Why? Because the big man himself says so. Canned Tuna from Trader Joe’s: Great tuna at a good price can be used to create salads, dips, and grilled patties (assuming you like tuna). Curing your cooking regress-itis will take several weeks, and may only happen after midterms. In the meantime, my advice would be to stay away from Five Guys (food coma anyone?) and embrace the $2 discount at Baja Fresh (just remember to fill out that survey online and bring the receipt back!). If worse comes to worse look for the Southeast Asia studies lunch on Wednesdays, it’s by far the best. Strategy and Policy only has brownies. Jamie Huckabay is a second year M.A. candidate in Canadian Studies

Ask the SAIS Gal Dear SAIS Gal: My first semester is going pretty well, but from what the secondyears tell me, my workload is going to be like the cafeteria during cookie hour: caffeinated and jam-packed. During undergrad people at my college usually hibernated in the library to get all their work done. I will go crazy if I spend my whole week reading Arroyo's Monetary notes alone in the newspaper room and talking to myself about intertemporal trade. What's a girl to do? Avoiding sleep- Fearing Waking Up Drooling in the Library ing and grumpiness, "Being a graduate student is like becoming all of the Seven Dwarves. In the beginning you're Dopey and Bashful. In the middle, you are usually sick (Sneezy), tired (Sleepy), and irritable (Grumpy). But at the end, they call you Doc, and then you're Happy." - Ronald T. Azuma

as much as possible, is key to success in your academic work and your relationships with your classmates.

Granted, most of us aren't getting doctorates, but these stages definitely still apply. I myself am already into the Sleepy and Grumpy stage, and it's only three weeks into the semester. According to the deluge of official Hopkins emails, my likely infection with swine flu--thus the Sneezy stage--is also right around the corner. I'm not going to discuss how you too can prevent swine flu. However, avoiding sleeping and grumpiness, as much as possible, is key to success in your academic work and your relationships with your classmates. No one wants to be shunned from their Corporate Finance group for snarling or falling asleep during your collaborations. How to keep a little bit of joy in your life?

Many SAIS students enjoy kicking back with a beer (or several) at happy hour on Friday, which is definitely one of the best deals in the neighborhood. Where else can you go to get cheap drinks and eats? Wing Night on Tuesdays at the Big Hunt is a well-known classic for By Erin Kelley imbibing on a grad student budget. Cafe Citron, also on Connecticut, has cheap drink specials every night of the week. Get a Zipcar, or a friend with a car, and get out of town for a while. Last year, I went to a Haunted Farm out in Maryland, and it was great to hang out with friends (and scream in the woods). Set aside some time to exercise. Your body and mind will thank you, especially if you've been sitting at one of the eighth floor carrels all day long. Contact Richard Kaufman if you want to join the SAIS running club. This semester, I took the time to Set aside some time to make a master reading list for all my classes, and a calendar plotting out all exercise. Your body and my work for the semester. Nerdy, I mind will thank you, espeknow. However, I'm much more on cially if you've been sitting top of my game than I have been in at one of the eighth floor previous semesters. Now that I'm carrels all day long. starting to apply for jobs for next year, each extra moment counts. This method also allows me to schedule time when I don't have to think about school. This free service allows you to watch tv programs on your computer. I personally like Arrested Development as a good distraction from reality. Erin Kelley is a second year M.A. candidate in Middle East Studies and Development Economics.

Suggestions? Email them along with questions for future issues to or (And, for those who may be wondering, no sex-based preferences were used in the determination of the placement order :)


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