Skip navigation

Learning Through a Different Lens

Joe Baldock

Concentrating in Global Politics and China Studies, Joseph Baldock studied in the Master of Arts in International Studies program at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.

Why did you choose to enroll in the Master of Arts in International Studies program?   

I knew I was interested in International Relations with an emphasis on Politics and China Studies, so the MAIS seemed like the right program for me. I really liked the concept of being able to learn about China and global politics through a Chinese lens, especially using Chinese, while still being able to maintain academic freedom.  

Were there any challenges you faced during your studies? How did you overcome them?  

Having been out of school for a while before this, one challenge was getting back into the groove of doing academic reading and writing. Business writing is incredibly straightforward, and I often found myself feeling like I had already said what I’d needed to in fewer words than were required. It took a while of readjusting and talking to my peers for me to recalibrate back to academic writing.  

How do you see your future career trajectory after completing this program? OR What are your plans after graduating? 

This program has definitely changed my career trajectory. I’ve found that I really enjoy the analytical side of this field. This was a way for me to move from my previous field into one that fits more with think tank or academic work. I was able to realize my passion for these aspects through this program.

The conversations I had with my classmates outside of class constantly sparked dialogue and helped me form my own ideas about what I was studying. This challenged me in ways that I had never considered.

Can you share any standout experiences or memorable moments from your time in the program?  OR What was your favorite memory at the HNC?

Joe Baldock
For me, the best part was being part of a community where you’re taking the same classes, interested in the same topics, interning at the same places, and building connections with people. The conversations I had with my classmates outside of class constantly sparked dialogue and helped me form my own ideas about what I was studying. This challenged me in ways that I had never considered. I was even able to publish a few articles that I had either co-authored or at least discussed and formulated with my classmates. The food-filled days and karaoke nights are memories I’ll always treasure. You know you’ve met someone special when they can sing and dance to Christmas songs for 4 hours straight as a group. 

What was the best class you took? 

It’s tough to narrow it down to one single class, but three that stood out to me were Qi Lingling’s Chinese Government and Politics, Shu Jianzhong’s Global Political Economy, and Hua Tao’s Ethnic Minorities class. Each had their own unique field of study, but one characteristic that they had in common was that they made me think deeply about the construction of the world without attempting to teach me a viewpoint. Each professor did an excellent job of challenging students without requiring students to agree. 

What advice would you give prospective students considering the program you’re enrolled in? For current students?  

For anyone coming into this program, try your best to understand your interests before beginning, but don’t feel that you need to hold steadfast to it. Develop a sense of where you feel you want to go and allow yourself to freely explore. For current students, do things outside of school. Don’t let the HNC become your only experience because it’s not meant to be that. Many experiences that shaped my career happened outside of the classroom. For anyone enrolling in the MAIS program, PLEASE start your thesis as early as possible. Honestly, begin taking time to research it in your first semester to at least find a direction. It may seem like you have ample time but coming from the sleepless months that myself and many others in my cohort experienced, you absolutely do not. I guarantee you’ll have better results in the end if you start early.
If you are looking to learn more about what it's like to be a current student at Johns Hopkins SAIS, we encourage you to schedule a virtual appointment with one of our Admissions Fellows.

Enjoyed reading Joseph's experience? Learn more about our Master of Arts in International Studies.

Back to Student Stories