Julia Vetter is a German-American who was born in Dusseldorf and moved to Arizona at the age of 7. After graduating high school, she flew on a one-way ticket to Bali, where she started eight and a half months of solo travel. She is currently studying business management in London while also launching a business centered around mental and emotional development for kids in schools. We talked in London about her travels, her work and what led her to launch the new business.
Tell me a bit about your travels.
After high school, I graduated and decided I wanted to explore and kind of relive a trip my parents had done 25 years earlier. I bought a one-way ticket to Bali and created the trip from there. I was ready to create stories.
…It turned out to be an amazing eight and a half months. It taught me a lot about life. When you’re traveling alone, you get to know yourself. You follow truly the essence of what you want. You stay with people for the time you want to. Sometimes you end up traveling with someone for three months, but you end up meeting people that will guide you for an hour…a day…forever… It teaches you to count on yourself, trust yourself and accept yourself.
And had you chosen your school before you left?
No. I was rejected [from medical studies]. My whole life I had wanted to be a doctor. Then there was a change in plans. In February, I looked into business. I found the school I’m at now and loved the curriculum, the intention and the whole program. Three cultures, three languages, each year you go to a different country. It satisfied my need for uncertainty and traveling. One of the fears I had was of getting stuck. This school really allows for diversity, change and growth on many levels.
Tell me about the business you started recently.
Life Uni is bringing enrichment development into schools—self-love, self-confidence, anti-bullying. I think people can make each other stronger. A lot of the values that societies have given to us are not the ones that are necessarily true. We conform to the beliefs surrounding us. We want people to follow their hearts and be true to the essence of who they are. That can start at a very young age.
Younger generations are suffering from mental illness. It is the number one topic not approached in schools. There is no mental and emotional support—learning how to cope with feelings and experiencing them in a healthy way, processing what you’re going through in a positive way and realizing it’s a part of life. We all have our own crap, and you’re not alone. You’re allowed to reach out. What we’re trying to teach the kids is not to suppress the feelings.
I’m starting the European part of the business and my partner is in Australia and doing the same thing. We’re just barely getting into it, but it’s a lot about content, legal issues, etc.
Life’s too short to not do it. I have nothing to lose, and I genuinely have the naive belief of wanting to make the world a better place. My passion lies there. I feel the best when I’m helping someone else. If it’s something I can start doing now and not have to wait, I can make mistakes now. I can learn from whatever happens. This could fail. Then there’s another lesson out of it. Right now, the doors are opening.
What made you interested in this?
I have my own story. …I was fortunate enough to have mentors and guidance to learn how to cope with [the feelings] positively. I don’t let others define who I am without my permission. That is a gift and a strength that I want others to have. The connection you have with others when you’re connected to yourself is so much stronger. You see this world of love. That’s a view everyone deserves to have—to look into the mirror and like who you are, to wake up and be happy to be alive. That’s a feeling I have from going through [what I did]. I know a lot of kids don’t have access to go about it in a good way.
Do you mind sharing what you went through?
[There was] bullying about being German in America… I was beating myself up with it as well. It was things from growing up being called a Nazi or Hitler’s granddaughter to not thinking I was good enough and starving myself. At my all-time low I wanted to kill myself and reached out to a suicide hotline where someone listened. I vowed to myself that when I got myself out of the rut I was in I would help others. I ended up working at that hotline a few years later.
I had a terrible relationship with my mom. Now she’s my best friend. School pressure, sports, the whole thing. The beautiful thing is we all know what it’s like to be sad, to be depressed. It’s something we can all connect on. It’s released from different causes, but we’re all the same.
…I went from being my own biggest bully to a hard, hard road of learning to love myself and to just accept the fact that there is no one like me in this world. The beauty is you’re also one of seven billion. It’s finding a balance of how truly insignificant you are and my problems don’t interest the person walking by, and yet I know that you care and I am important to people and I am significant. I spent a long time beating myself up. I don’t want to do it anymore.