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Killam Fellow studies abroad in Canada

Quad-major learns about geography, politics and history at Carleton University

Anusha Natarajan holding up the ASU pitchfork hand sign in Canada, standing on a deck in front of a lake surrounded by trees.

Anusha Natarajan during her Canadian travels. Photo courtesy Anusha Natarajan

January 24, 2023

Anusha Natarajan is a busy student. As a senior set to graduate this May, she will be taking home bachelor’s degrees in sociology, history, political science and applied quantitative science, as well as minors in geography and Spanish, and certificates in international studies, political economy and social science research methods. 

But, impressively, Natarajan, who attends Barrett, The Honors College, hasn’t sacrificed extracurricular involvement in her academic pursuits. She is also a reporter and diversity officer for the State Press, a recipient of the 2022 John Lewis Youth Leadership Award from the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State and a lead fellow for The Andrew Goodman Foundation — to name a few of her accomplishments. 

Natarajan, a Killam Fellow, most recently studied abroad at Carleton University in Canada, where she spent five months taking classes in Canadian geography, politics and history. As someone deeply interested in the way society works, she was excited to use her academic and journalistic skills to absorb all she could about our northern neighbors and their government. After her return in December, the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics caught up with Natarajan to ask about her academic pursuits and what she learned from her experiences abroad.

Question: What did you go into the trip most looking forward to? 

Answer: For me, it was getting to know more about Canada and its history and politics. I have always heard about the clash of the French versus English and the Quebec referendum in seeking independence, and it was interesting to learn more about that through my coursework and visiting Quebec. Also, with Canada being part of the Commonwealth, I was looking forward to learning about the influence of the Commonwealth on Canadian society.  

Q: Did the trip go as expected? 

A: I think it did go mostly as expected, but I wish I had more time in checking out some of the museums in Ottawa where I did my exchange. I also was able to write for the student-run newspaper there, and I covered stories about Canadian National matters, so I was able to cover a teacher strike that was happening in Nova Scotia, and I thought that was a great experience in using my reporting abilities abroad. 

Q: What are your biggest takeaways from the experience?   

A: The biggest takeaway from this experience was just embracing the unpredictability. As you know, Canada is cold, so it taught me to be more independent and trying to learn how I can get adjusted to a place that is unfamiliar. I was also able to learn a lot more about the country too, when it comes to customs and culture. 

Q: Do you feel like it affected your career ambitions?

A: I definitely did think it affected my career ambitions because I have been interested in looking at comparative election misinformation, and I have been able to build connections across the country to understand how the country has been dealing with misinformation as well as public stakeholders. It made me realize that I also want to pursue a career that deals with a lot of international work and travel.

Q: What would you tell other students who want to study abroad?

A: I would say do it! It is a great way to meet people from all across the world. I have made lifelong friendships with people from across the world, and it is great talking about how similar and different our lifestyles are. It also allows you to become more confident and build interpersonal skills, which is something that you will need after graduation.

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