TA and World Traveler Andrew Repp

The University of Denver is lucky to be Andrew Repp's current location in his long past of travelling. Currently a graduate student studying international and intercultural communications, Repp has done more with his life than most 25-year-olds can say they have. Through a long line of living in different countries, Andrew is still searching for his next destination.

Originally growing up in Chicago while his father got his PhD, his parents moved Andrew and his two siblings to St. Petersburg, Russia. This move was hardly random and has some background. Both of his parents studied Russian in college, and found love while studying abroad in Moscow. Always a romantic story, and Andrew himself has had the hopes of falling in love internationally. The Repp family lived in St. Petersburg for four years while his parents worked at a Lutheran Seminary. Since the Soviet Union banned religion, all of the countries of this Union completely lacked religious infastructure. Andrew and his siblings were the only American students at the International School they attended. 

At the end of the four years of work, his family relocated to Carbondale, Illinios. At only 13 years old, Andrew entered his freshman year of high school. Unaware the social aspcets of an American high school, Andrew walked in on the first day with short shorts, and had "the social intelligence of a 3rd grader." "I got it pretty bad," Andrew reflects on his time; and getting through high school was challenging. Sadly, his college years did not feel much better at DePauw University in Indiana. Never reaching the legal drinking age due to skipping grades and attending an international school made his college experience different than most. Despite this situation, Andrew was able to spend time abroad that he cherishes. From Egypt to Australia and a hiking trip up Mt. Kilimanjaro, his travel bug was satisfied. 

Finally, Andrew was able to find his place when he applied to the Peace Corps. He was nominated for the program in Azerbaijan, a former part of the Soviet Union. "At that time we had a choice, and I actually requested to be sent to Africa, since Tanzania had been the last place I had been, so it was on my mind." But with Andrew's familiarity with and background in Russia, they figured, why not send him there? Plus, Andrew is fluent in Russian, Azerbaijani, and some Turkish by knowing the combination of both. While in Azerbaijan, Andrew was an english education volunteer for two years, where he then extended his stay after a leadership position at the capitol was reccomended for him. 

Andrew returned from the Peace Corps in July of 2014 and worked for a little while. "I tried to get a government job, but that was not going to happen. You really need strong experience and a masters degree. So, I moved to St. Louis and started applying to grad school." To no surprise, this is where Andrew's path led to the University of Denver. But before he started the big move to Denver, he stayed at home in St. Louis and worked at REI. While working one day, Andrew had a customer come in who was getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail, and he sought out Andrew's help. "I thought, 'man, i could do that', cause' I'm not going to grad school till' the fall, (and it's Christmas time at this point), and I also had money saved up from the Peace Corps."

"So, I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail."

Andrew bought all of his gear through discounts he had working at REI, had a friend drive him to Georgia on March 10th, and started walking. "I walked from North Georgia to Northern Maine from March to September, and I finished September 8th." Andrew's father introduced him to photography while they were living in Russia, which is how Andrew documented his experiences through the trails. "My parents started doing this thing called 'picture of the day' and had all of these albums with one picture from every day. It's really cool... I mean, that's our whole life". Andrew used this influence to find a passion for photography, telling his vast stories through pictures. "When I walked the trail I bought a small but nice compact camera and took a lot of pictures. I started getting featured on websites, and I've sold a few prints." But Andrew owes his involvment back into photography to Instagram. "I actually got more in to photography because of Instagram. I would get 3G at the top of peaks, and just transfer the photo from my camera to my phone and put it up on Instagram. I started tagging my photos with Appalachian Trail hashtags, and that got me over a thousand followers. We asked Andrew if he ran into any weird or creepy people who were doing interesting things. "We did run into some weird shit. Like there's this gravestone somewhere, and it had this story about a little boy who had never been found, so we were like 'uh, let's not camp here'. And you do run into  really off-the-beaten-path people, which is the coolest thing - some of these people are living really rough lives, but they were all so nice." Hitchhiking is how Andrew, and anyone on the trail, gets into town for food and supplies. "You have to put yourself out there and interact with people. You can't get an Uber, and you're forced to interact in ways you haven't before." Andrew considers himself a priveleged, middle-class white male, and finds these experiences overwhelmingly humbling. He is aware how lucky he is to live the life that was given to him, and he leads his life with this greatefulness every day. "The thing is, you can be anybody out there. To the people out on the trails, they don't know who you are. There are homeless people out there, and there are bankers who just quit their job. To them, we're just dirty humans who need rides into town to shower. You hear these old creepy stories about travelers, but it's never really like that." On the trail, because of this anonymity, everyone hiking went by hit names instead of their real ones. Andrew was known as "Mile Marker", due to a related tattoo he has on his ankle, where he marked each "mile to go" as he continued hiking. 

Andrew explained that he never went out of his way to try to network, as we are told is very important for future career paths. But with these experiences, Andrew has gathered a network of individuals with so many various passions and paths. "It's weird, because when you're an undergrad it seems like these huge internships are so out of reach, but the access we have being apart of DU or any organization, gives you insane access. There are millions of people in the world who want those connections and we have them, but half the time we don't use them. People always tell you to network, and it sound like you have to meet all of these people you haven't met before, but what you need to do is maintain the connections you do have. 

Now, amidst grading some of our papers and finding a new place in Denver, Andrew is looking forward to an internship opprotunity in Jordan, which he found through the University of Denver. "I haven't specified what the internship going to be. I could be interviewing, I could be doing social media, it could be audio or visual recording." But while this is not yet specified, Andrew is hoping to be doing lots of writing, interviewing and photography for his two-month stay in Jordan. Until then, Andrew will be around campus, settling into this new chapter of his life, and getting ready to ski for the first time in seven years!