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Learning the Full Story

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Aasmund Joedahl
Master of Arts in International Relations

1. What encouraged you to apply to Johns Hopkins SAIS? 
I did my undergrad at a small liberal arts college in Northern Massachusetts, called Merrimack College. I started out as an International Studies major in my undergraduate studies, and then I realized that I only learned half of the story. That was when I decided to pursue a double major in International Studies and Economics. In doing so I was able to understand the broader picture of challenges in today’s world. SAIS’s strong emphasis on quantitative skills and economics made it my top choice for continuing my education.

2. What were you doing before attending the school? 
Initially, I came to the U.S first and foremost to continue my career in soccer at a high level while simultaneously pursuing an education. At Merrimack, I was able to do this, and I gained leadership experience through being elected the team captain my junior and senior year. This was especially exciting during my senior year as the school transitioned to D1.

I applied to SAIS when I was in my senior year of undergrad in 2020. I was accepted at the time but chose to defer because of the pandemic. During that year, I was back home in Norway working for the Norwegian national lottery. I have been working at the company during summer and winter breaks since 2017, and I was lucky enough to get a temporary position at the sports betting branch for the year that I deferred as an odds compiler and trader. My responsibilities were mostly European soccer, but also other sports such as NFL, Cycling and Formula1.

3. What program are you in and what do you hope to gain from it?
I am an MAIR student concentrating in States, Markets and Institutions with a regional focus on Europe. I have always been a firm believer that peace and prosperity in the world can only be achieved through diplomatic measures, openness, and cooperation. Strong IGO’s such as the UN, EU and NATO play a vital role in facilitating cooperation. In my concentration, I wish to gain a better understanding of how these institutions work across borders, and how states interact, both with each other, but also with IGO’s and NGO’s.

4. What has been one of your favorite experiences or classes at the school so far? 
My favorite experience at SAIS so far is participating in the SAIS Crisis Simulation. It was an incredible weekend where we got to delve deep into a made-up crisis from our country’s perspective. It was an exercise in understanding the country’s goals and needs, not only domestically but also internationally. It helped me understand how challenging running a country is, and how to prioritize efforts, while balancing conflicting goals. Participating in negotiations with other countries’ representatives gave me a lesson in ability to act quickly on my feet, how important choice of words can be, and how difficult it can be for countries to find a compromise that is acceptable to both parties. The Crisis simulation gave me a better understanding of the importance of global cooperation, and it was an awesome experience in tackling a crisis from the perspective of the specific country that you were assigned to represent.

5. As a first year, what are some things you are looking forward to? 
The relaxation of covid restrictions this semester has opened new opportunities for SAIS and its numerous clubs to host events, panels and discussions. I hope that as covid numbers continue to decline, even more of these events will be hosted. Furthermore, I hope that other institutions in DC will start to host events such as the surrounding think-tanks and embassies in the city. This would certainly serve as excellent networking opportunities for SAIS students.

I am also looking forward to the possibility of participating in the study trips that the school is famous for hosting. I hope that more of these treks will be scheduled as more countries relax their entry restrictions.

6. What do you hope to do with your degree after you graduate?
I have long had a dream of serving my country and help to make the world a better place. I hope that I will be able to further global cooperation through diplomacy either as a representative for my country, working in the Norwegian Foreign Service, or working in the UN. To reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the whole world must work together. Being able promote global cooperation through global governance and diplomacy is what I strive to do, and I believe that a SAIS degree is the best path in pursuit of these goals.


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