Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - September 27, 2012

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J ulie Mikaelsen enjoys being on a first- name basis with everyone. Even if nearly everyone has trouble pronounc- ing hers. That includes her Wisconsin volleyball team- mates. "So we just go with Jules,'' she said. The correct pronunciation is YOU-lee-yah. But when she meets people for the first time, she will introduce herself as "Julie.'' As in JOOL-ee. That eliminates some of the awkwardness. "It's easier for Americans,'' she said, "instead of explaining everything over and over again.'' Julie Mikaelsen is from Askim, Norway, which is about 30 miles south of Oslo, the capi- tal city. Certainly, there was a language barrier when she arrived in the United States three years ago. But there's absolutely no sign of that today. It's like she has lived here forever. Her teammates will occasionally even tease her, "Oh, Jules, that's so American of you.'' And she will always counter with a good-na- tured, "No, I'm Norwegian.'' Improved communication has been at the core of her development on the court. Also fac- tor in the cultural adjustments that she had to make to the campus and the city. And that would help explain how challenging her tran- sition has been overall to such a new environ- ment. "That's a lot of it,'' said UW volleyball coach Pete Waite. "Her mind just purely thought Nor- wegian that first year. She could speak English, but on the court when she wanted to yell some- thing to a teammate, it wasn't English that was coming out. And then she'd get quiet, and that wasn't her.'' That was definitely not her. "On the court, I would never speak,'' she admitted."I didn't know what to say. Reacting to something, it's hard to speak English real fast. I'd rather say nothing than speak Norwe- gian. "That was really hard for me because in Nor- way I was a person who spoke out a lot. This 44 ยป VARSITY SEPTEMBER 27, 2012

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