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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Cover Story

Study abroad veteran helps fellow students plan foreign trips

Nicole Melius
Nicole Melius at work in the PLU International Programs Office. The clocks on the wall behind her show the time in several worldwide locations where PLU students are currently studying.

Nicole Melius '01 works part-time at PLU's Center for International Programs while continuing her studies for a degree in political science and German. Her job is to greet fellow students who come to the office to check on study abroad opportunities, as well as help plan and design these programs.

Melius is a veteran of study abroad, herself. In 1994, when she was a freshman at the South Salem High School in Salem, Ore., she carried her violin and went on a concert tour in Germany and Austria with the school's orchestra. There, she was bitten by the international bug.

When she came to PLU, she applied for a foreign exchange study grant and went back to Germany, where she spent a semester at the venerable Freiburg University, in the spring of 1999.

Melius had studied German at school, but "speaking idiomatic German with Germans in all their different accents was something else," she says. "It was a challenge-but worth it."

At Freiburg she took classes in the German language, German history, art, linguistics and politics. All her courses were taught in German. Despite that full load, she managed to travel in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, as well as to Prague and the French Riviera.

"It was a great opportunity," she says. "Students should take opportunities like that while they have them. Something like this opens a person's eyes to all the possibilities of life. You meet so many great people and learn about other cultures."

After graduation from PLU she wants to go back and study political science in Germany and, eventually, embark on a career combining these two loves-politics and German.

Without studying or living abroad, she says, "people can be too immersed in their own culture and end up with narrow views about the world." But she is in no danger of that.

The highlight of her study abroad term was the moment when she went into a special room at the library in Freiburg and was allowed to look at a book. "It was a religious manuscript that was made at a monastery in Germany in the 700s--and I touched it," she says with visible amazement.

Pacific Lutheran University Scene
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