Degree combo sets course for global career

Wanderlust is real. Travel-related personal goals or “bucket list” items are common; some people want to visit all the U.S. states, or all the continents or all the oceans. Libby Friesen wants to do it all. On her bucket list is the desire to visit every continent, country, state, ocean, sea and bay in the world.

“I calculated it and if I visit four to five new places every year I will accomplish this… it’s within grasp, I just know it!” Friesen said.

Friesen, a senior majoring in global & international studies and minoring in Chinese language, was previously a flight attendant. She remembers frustrating times when no one on board was able to communicate with travelers.

“I just want to be a well-informed world citizen so I can bridge gaps and continue to appreciate other cultures throughout the world,” she said. “Hopefully my experiences and studies will pay off and I can obtain a career working and traveling abroad.”

Friesen chose her major and minor to achieve that goal. Chinese in particular appealed to her because of its relevance in U.S. political and business interests. But she’s  also taken a semester of Arabic and a year of Russian. Friesen decided to study languages that are traditionally harder for English speakers to learn such as those with different alphabets.Quote_Friesen

Originally, Friesen wanted to work as an interpreter after graduation, but has realized her passion lies in working in a global market.

“I want to be able to move all over the world as opposed to one region, which is why my regional specialty of my major is Latin America,” she said.

Extending her love for global affairs beyond the classroom, Friesen also participates in KU’s Model United Nations. She has attended the national conference and won awards for her work representing Russia one year and Morocco the next. Even with all these academic and personal demands on her time, Friesen has learned to navigate her busy schedule.

“It can be really hard finding a balance in my life. I work two jobs, am taking 15 hours, and have to find time for my husband and for myself. I have learned over the years that the best way to balance everything is to have confidence in yourself, and to take one thing at a time. It sounds cliché, but it makes all the difference in the world,” Friesen said.

When life gets stressful, Friesen takes advice from a popular saying in China.

“There’s this Chinese phrase I live by. It’s “加油!” which is pronounced jee-ya yo (Jia1you2) and it means ‘Add more oil!’ It’s a phrase that is constantly used in China. If you are pulling an all-nighter, your friend will tell you this, or if you go to a soccer match, you’ll hear the crowd yelling this instead of defense or offense. It just means, ‘keep at it – you can do it.’”

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