LU junior enjoys study abroad to Barcelona
Lakeland University junior Clare Kelnhofer has always prided herself on her independence. A study abroad trip overseas between Lakeland’s fall and spring semesters helped her push her boundaries and expand her world view.
Kelnhofer, who’s majoring in computer science and business administration, spent 20 days in Barcelona, Spain, completing an international marketing class and doing plenty of excursions through the Council on International Educational Exchange.
“It was really fun, a lot of traveling and seeing things along with school,” Kelnhofer said. “I got to see pretty much everything Barcelona has to offer.”
This trip over Lakeland’s holiday break included Barcelona’s major attractions and day trips to Tarragona, Girona, Sitges and the island of Ibiza, which she said was a favorite.
Kelnhofer selected Barcelona in large part because she wanted to see the work of Antoni Gaudí, one of the most famous architects of the first half of the 20th-century and a pioneer figure of Art Nouveau and Catalan Modernism. He is best known for his intricate structures throughout Barcelona, with the storied Basílica de la Sagrada Família having become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe in the last century.
“The La Sagrada Familia was my favorite thing of the whole trip,” Kelnhofer said. “You walked in and you were just speechless. I was so amazed. It was incredible to see.”
Kelnhofer lived with a woman in her home who hosted her. She got to know her cat quite well, and the host made her breakfast and dinner each day. She also got to know members of her family, and together they celebrated Three Kings Day on January 6, a holiday celebrated most in Europe, Spain and Latin America that marks the Three Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus.
“It was really cool to experience a different countries’ holiday tradition,” Kelnhofer said. “The celebration was huge. The parade was insane, probably the best I’ve ever been to.”
There were 19 students in her class and 30 students from the U.S. studying while she was there, and she’s stayed connected to new friends from California, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Maine.
The motivation to study abroad stemmed from a foreign exchange experience with a group of classmates when she was 13 and studied in Germany. “Ever since then, I knew I wanted to study abroad in college,” Kelnhofer said. “It was priority number one.”
A native of tiny Brandon, Wis., which has less than 1,000 residents, living in a European urban setting provided a growth opportunity, she said.
“It was great to see more of what the world has to offer,” Kelnhofer said. “Back home I live on the countryside, and the large experience was a very different way of living. I like the big city for traveling, but I wouldn’t want to live in a big city.”
Catalan and Spanish are two primary languages in Barcelona, and Kelnhofer said her Spanish didn’t always translate well. She also had to adjust to later starts as lunch was typically at 2 p.m. and dinner at 8 p.m., although she enjoyed sleeping in before class, which was three hours a day five days a week for three weeks.
“I was excited to go by myself and also scared, but I’m glad I did it,” Kelnhofer said. “It taught me a lot of independence. I’m a very independent person, but I’ve never had to being completely on my own. At Lakeland I have my friends and I’m only a couple of hours from family.”
Kelnhofer maintains a busy schedule at Lakeland. She serves as president of Elementastic, one of the businesses of Launch: Lakeland Student-Run Businesses. She is in Lakeland’s Honors program, is a member of the Lakeland tennis team and is a Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Scholar-Athlete Award winner.
She’s serving an internship at HUI in Kiel, Wis., doing data visualization work, making visual dashboards for their financials, working on IT ticketing systems and retention metrics
“I like the art part of it, designing numbers to make them easier to read and visually appealing,” said Kelnhofer, who plans to attend graduate school and study data analytics or business analytics on her way to a career in data analytics.
Fittingly, she is also a time management tutor for her peers.
Kelnhofer is thankful for the financial support from the Bhandari Family Travel Fund, which provides funding for Lakeland students to cover the cost of studying abroad.
“If it wasn’t for that scholarship, I would not have gone,” she said. “It really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to be able to study abroad, travel and make new connections. You realize there are more ways of living.”