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by Kayla Hedman '14
Julia Haass '15 came to Champlain after being guaranteed one thing: she could study abroad in Barcelona. Now in the first semester of her junior year, this guarantee is being fulfilled. "Barcelona is all that I hoped for and more!" said Haass, an International Business (IB) major, who is no stranger to international travel.
Haass, a native of Bavaria, Germany, moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, when she was 15. "I had a really hard time fitting in; teachers were understanding that I had a tough transition, but the other 15-year-old kids were not. It took me two years to feel comfortable and to learn English, and if I hadn't embraced the American culture, I wouldn't be as outgoing as I am today."
Since then, she has grown considerably. "Traveling helps me find myself. I am becoming more comfortable being independent and have found a courage that I didn't know I had." Here are some things Haass had to say in our Skype interview:
A few things: I travel so much because I can't remember not traveling; I have traveled my whole life. Because of this, the idea of settling in one place is almost scary to me - I feel like I'd be holding myself back from discovering the world and myself. Also, as an IB major, we are required to study abroad, and I am taking full advantage of that!
As IB majors, we are required to spend one semester abroad, but I actually have a 5-semester plan. People think I'm crazy, but I'm so grateful to have these opportunities. Before going to Barcelona, I spent three months of my summer in Shanghai interning at Vermont International Academy through the Stiller School of Business and a grant from the Freeman Foundation. Now I'm spending a semester in Barcelona, and in the spring I'll be at Champlain's Dublin campus. Next summer I'm organizing another summer internship in Brussels, before following in the footsteps of fellow IB majors Taylor Bentz '13 and Paxton Hall '14 at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona to begin my master's before returning to Burlington for my last semester in the spring of 2015. Phew! Champlain is the only school that allowed me to study abroad for that long - nearly half of my college career.
The Office of International Education has been a catalyst in my traveling - it has turned my travels from general tours to meaningful cultural experiences. Champlain in general has given me the education to understand cultural differences, and not only observe them.
Twenty-one. It's worked out that I have been to as many countries as I am old. I plan to keep with that trend.
Up next: Portugal the week before my 22nd birthday and Ireland for study abroad spring 2014.
In my IB classes, we read and study, study, study about how to do business in other cultures, i.e. China, but you will not understand it until it's happening and you're experiencing international business first-hand. You have to be really cautious and sensitive; you have to make sure everything you do or say won't be interpreted wrong in their language or culture.
Being in Spain, I'm really excited to be able to go home to Germany. I've never been able to do that! It's just so convenient to be in Europe. I'm also excited for weekend trips; I have planned a trip to Madrid, and I am going to reunite with some Champlain friends studying abroad in Paris and Croatia.
Visit Taylor Downs' blog from Paris at http://taylormdowns.blogspot.com
Caitlin Douglass' blog from Croatia at http://deardubrovnik.blogspot.com