No stranger in a foreign land

Published: August 24th, 2008

Category: Spotlights

Julianne Crapps

Julianne Crapps

Food and Resource Economics

Julianne Crapps’ mom thought it was hysterical that the daughter who refused to go to overnight soccer camps hopped on a plane to Spain for a summer study abroad program. In fact, Julianne’s mom expected that when the time came, her daughter wouldn’t be able to board the plane.

But Julianne, a senior food and resource economics major and Spanish minor, surprised even herself when she decided to go. Before the trip, Julianne had been only as far as New York City and never more than a week apart from her family in Live Oak.

“I consider myself a really shy person, so if I can do it anybody can,” She said.

As president of UF’s Study Abroad Peer Advisors, or SAPA, Julianne now dedicates herself to providing information to students considering studying in other countries.

“We’re here to give a boost to those teetering on indecision,” she said. “There is something different about talking to someone as opposed to reading it in a brochure.”

She joined the group after seeing how busy it gets in the International Center mostly because of students who had questions about what the experience would be like.

SAPA is somewhat new and still relatively unknown. Julianne will begin holding office hours a few days a week in the fall. Previously, those looking to speak to an adviser had to sign up on a sheet of paper at the front desk and wait for a response.

Because she was extremely homesick while in Spain, Julianne can be a valuable resource for other students facing the same dilemma. With current world events, she also faces questions about anti-American sentiment.

“I tell them they are ambassadors for our school and a representative of our country,” she said. “They have a real opportunity to make an impression on those people.”

Julianne’s most significant hurdle was using her limited Spanish to communicate with a host family that spoke no English. In fact, a young son of the family drew pictures in an effort to help her with vocabulary.

Despite the challenges students may face abroad, the experience can be gratifying and rewarding.

As Julianne put it: “You become very independent when no one is there to hold your hand.”

Photo credit: Ray Carson — University Photography

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