Germany made a big impression on a young freshman from the UO named Grant Barba, so much so he went back for his entire junior year. Now a graduate, Barba is on the move again.
The 2011 UO grad recently received a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service ― DAAD in German ― to continue his studies as a graduate student at the University of Hamburg this fall. He’ll enroll in an interdisciplinary program that combines economics, political science and philosophy.
He’s anxious to renew his ties to Germany, where his experience as a freshman and then as a junior changed the course of his life.
“I just got opened up to another culture in a way I never had before,” Barba, now 24, said of his time abroad as an undergrad. “It was a real eye-opening experience.”
After getting his bachelor’s degree from the UO in political science and German, Barba spent a year teaching English to children at a small village school in rural Spain. The San Diego native then took some time off to travel before moving to Portland, where he works at the Portland Montessori School.
But his thoughts were never far from Germany. His undergraduate study abroad experiences were at the University of Tübingen, where he said he discovered a people and culture not so different from his adopted home in the Pacific Northwest.
When he heard about the DAAD scholarship, he saw an opportunity for a natural continuation of his studies at the UO and Tübingen.
“It combines most of my academic interests and just seemed like a good fit for me,” he said.
Barba is the 11th UO student to receive a DAAD scholarship since 2008, and just the third UO graduate student.
Barba said he hasn’t quite decided “what I want to do when I grow up,” but he’s leaning toward a career in public service, business or possibly education. He noted that the program he’ll be taking is one that has graduated many members of the British Parliament.
“I’d like to feel good about the work that I’m doing,” Barba said. “I’d like to feel that I’m contributing to the world in some positive way.”
As an undergraduate, Barba worked in the study abroad office and encourages all students to spending some time studying in another country. He said his experience helped him grow in ways he never expected.
Barba said he’s grateful for the chance to return to Germany to continue his studies, and to see where his international experience will take him.
“I feel very fortunate,” he said. “It’s a great honor for the German government to enstrust me with this scholarship.”