Julia Haass, Student Q & A

Student Q&A with Julia Haass

Student Q&A Champlain View

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:

What is your motivation to travel?

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!

So you chose to study abroad in Barcelona, but how else are you taking full advantage of study abroad?

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.

So how has Champlain's Office of International Education helped you?

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.

You said you've been traveling as long as you can remember. How many countries have you been to?

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.

  1. Germany
  2. Denmark
  3. Netherlands
  4. Belgium
  5. Luxemburg
  6. Scotland
  7. France
  8. Switzerland
  9. Austria
  10. Czech Republic
  11. Italy
  12. Croatia
  13. Turkey
  14. United States
  15. Canada
  16. New Zealand - gap year of work and travel with the Department of Conservation
  17. French Polynesia (Tahiti)
  18. Japan - one week of travel
  19. China - lived in Shanghai for three months and visited Beijing, Hongzhou, and Suzhou
  20. Spain - study abroad fall 2013
  21. Morocco

Up next: Portugal the week before my 22nd birthday and Ireland for study abroad spring 2014.

How did your experience interning in Shanghai change your perspective on the global marketplace?

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.

What are you most excited for in the coming months?

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

What have you learned while traveling?

  • You can't let the mindset of one country influence your experience or behavior in another country.
  • It's a small world: there are five Shanghainese students studying abroad with me in Barcelona. I have to speak to them in Spanish because it is the only common language between us, but we can talk about Shanghai, and I know what they are talking about.
  • It's really easy to stay connected. With all of our technology and social media in the 21st century, the world becomes even smaller and I can keep in touch with many people I met traveling.\
  • Traveling has taught me to appreciate my family, my education, and myself more.
  • Homesickness will never end - I've been to 21 countries and am still experiencing it. I will create new temporary homes, but I always have to leave.
  • Some people say them ore you travel, the more you lose yourself, but I'm determined to prove that wrong. 

What's on your travel bucket list?

  • Greece — Germany's economy is assisting and I want to see what they've done
  • Budapest, Hungary — I've heard it's indescribable
  • Cape Town, South Africa — It would be the most southern point I've ever traveled

What fun facts would you like to share with our readers?

  • I am obsessed with three things: the color yellow, hippos, and maps. I love maps.
  • After high school I took a gap year and worked for the Department of Conservation on the north island of New Zealand
  • After being in China and spending a week traveling around Japan this summer, I can't stop bowing when I take handouts and business cards. It's the respectful way to take handouts in those cultures, and shows gratitude. I still continue to do it even though I'm removed from those cultures, and now I receive funny looks.