Anna Brashear is part of the TAM Class of 2017. She is now studying in Berlin. Anna recently received extremely exciting news about a summer Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) award for Turkish and a Fulbright award for Germany for the next academic year. We asked Anna to comment on her TAM experience and answer a few questions. Please read more about her research interests and insights about the program below.
- Please tell us what led you to TAM and to your interest in contemporary Europe.
I decided to join TAM because it offered a very singular program that allowed me to pursue my diverse interests perfectly within the framework of a Political Science MA degree. These interests include cultural studies, language-learning, and immigration & integration concerning Germany, Turkey, and Europe at large, whereby conceptions of East-West “clashes” come into the picture and are played out on national and international political stages. More specifically, after writing my Bachelor’s thesis on the creation of transnational spaces in the German city, I realized that my anthropological and German Studies interests had merged and found commonality in a topic that is inherently political: immigration, integration and local/national identities in contemporary Europe. TAM offered me the most robust program to approach my interests in interdisciplinary fashion while giving me the opportunity to study these issues at the source. I would be able to spend time in Germany and Turkey as well as pursue Turkish language studies whilst taking classes that still give me a well-rounded perspective on European politics and transatlantic relations on the whole.
- Thus far, what exposure to the TAM graduates have you had and what role have they played in your TAM experience so far?
Even after just one semester, I feel tremendously guided, supported and welcomed by the TAM alum community. This came through exposure to TAM grads on alumni panels, at informal gatherings and through networking–in fact, I scored my first internship in Germany with a former TAM alum because of the extensive TAM network. My 3 month internship in Event Management at a small Munich-based start-up gave me hands-on experience and real responsibility, not to mention the confidence to pursue further work opportunities in Germany during and after TAM. It also showed me what a broad network TAM has, full of grads who are excited for you and willing to offer guidance and a helping hand. Even before I joined TAM, the students were so kind and helpful, always willing to answer my questions and tell me how TAM had shaped their educational experiences. This is a very positive and tight-knit community, and that has been apparent from the start!
- What aspects of the TAM program appeal to you most?
TAM appealed to me because of its very unique angle in an array of Political Science graduate programs. The components of TAM that make it so singular are first, training to hone expertise in comparing, contrasting and bringing together European and American political affairs; second, the opportunity to study extensively in Europe while still pursuing an American (or European, if you wish) degree; and finally and very importantly for me, the freedom to incorporate my interdisciplinary interests stemming from my background in anthropology and German studies with political science. TAM’s 3-track program and choice of sites and emphases allows you to create the perfect, individualized study program which is rare to find elsewhere–it also means that TAM attracts a group of students who have very diverse research interests and thus perspectives, but who find common ground in contemporary European and transatlantic affairs. This makes for extremely interesting (and sometimes feisty) discussions in the classroom!
- What are your summer plans and what will you focus on in your second year of TAM?
I plan to continue my fellowship with UNC’s Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) award during the summer by taking 6 weeks of Turkish language courses in Turkey. TAM has given me such a wealth of opportunity to improve my scholarship by providing access to resources like this–through TAM and FLAS, I will improve my Turkish so that I can conduct interviews for my MA thesis on German-Turkish responses to the rise of anti-immigrant political parties in Germany. This, in turn, is research that will be supported by the Fulbright Foundation during my second year of TAM at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. After turning in my MA thesis, I hope to finish out my time in TAM with another internship or possible permanent work opportunity in Berlin.
TAM is an absolutely fantastic program, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who is passionate about transatlantic and/or European affairs. No matter what your more specific research interests are beyond these foundations, TAM provides diverse opportunities tailored to every student’s interests and needs!