Friday, June 13, 2014

Taking the Plunge with Sarah Barchus

In the Midwest, April is far from spring. The ice has thawed and the snow has melted, but the temperatures are still low. So why would anyone plunge into a bone-chilling Wisconsin lake to get scuba certified?

Sarah Barchus is always up for an adventure.

The 21-year-old from Delafield, Wisconsin has a scuba Divemaster certification, but she’s equally interested in exploring the world above sea level. Last fall, Barchus left the University of Minnesota Twin Cities for a semester abroad in Rome.

As a double major in Journalism and Global Studies, it makes perfect sense that Barchus aspires to be a travel writer.

“I’ve always admired the big names like National Geographic because they give a very interesting and broad perspective of the world and bring things to people that they don’t get to experience for themselves,” Barchus said.

Barchus had always appreciated magazines as a creative medium above other publications, so applying for the ASME Magazine Internship Program as a junior was a no-brainer.

When Barchus received her internship assignment from ASME, she was slightly taken aback. She was matched with AARP The Magazine, a publication (albeit highly esteemed) designed for readers at least 30 years her senior.

Despite her apprehensions, Barchus approached the opportunity with a sense of humor.

“I just kind of joked, you know, ‘Old people have the best stories.’”

Another difference from her summer expectations: an internship at AARP meant 10 weeks in the nation’s capital. Barchus had set her sights on spending a summer in New York City, but that hasn’t kept her from exploring Washington with the same enthusiasm.

“I spent the entire first weekend pounding the pavement and getting a feel for the place,” Barchus said.

Rachel McGuigan, 21, can vouch for her friend's penchant for exploring. She met Barchus freshman year at the University of Minnesota and lived together abroad in Italy.

“She’s really observant. No matter where she is,” McGuigan said. “She would go up to Italians and just talk to them. She’s very comfortable approaching people she doesn’t know, whether they speak English or not.”

Barchus embraces changes to her environment, so where will that adventurous spirit take her post-graduation?

“That’s kind of the looming question. I want to go everywhere, so the problem is narrowing that down,” Barchus said.

The plan is to take things step-by-step. Barchus hopes that when the time comes, she’ll know exactly what she wants to do and where she wants to go. At the moment, she’s drawn towards South America.

“I met someone from Peru when I was in Rome, which led me to think about her life at home and her culture.”

However, there’s still time for that to change and for Barchus to meet any number of interesting people, whether they hail from below the equator or within the States.

Fortunately, Barchus is open to the unknown.

“I would go almost anywhere in an instant .”

With that kind of boundlessness, Barchus will more than likely end up with a few good stories of her own.

-- Helen Zook, Northwestern University, Travel + Leisure
Edited by Christina Jedra, Emerson College, Parents Magazine 

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