, I discovered that when deciding whether or not to try something new, I should just go for it because there is no telling what could come from the experience.
I walked around Sydney looking at Architecture of tall buildings, the Anzac War Memorial, old town hall, and the fancy hotels… I enjoyed the park where exotic birds would feed off old bread, I had a haircut at a Chinese salon, and I enjoyed the harbors water, as the wind would blow me away. I did this almost every day.
Our group abroad was incredibly fortunate to have professors that were extremely well connected in the countries we found ourselves in. We were able to tour all of the major government buildings in both countries, pet wild kangaroos, and even go to dinner with the Australian Secretary of Defense.
The twenty-one of us started our day by getting our parkas gloves and boots and then took a helicopter to the base of the glacier. It was incredible to see such a mass of ice during the summer months there.
In summary, what you take out of a study abroad program depends upon what you put in to it. I exposed myself to countless experiences that have had an influence on the rest of my life.
We would hold lectures while directly inserted in the environment we were learning about, making it visually applicable and easy to see. I found myself interested in each lecture we had and ready to hear more about the beautiful surroundings we had dove into.
This helped me become more conscious of how my habits have a great environmental impact. This isn’t something that should be forced down people’s throats, but I do believe that it something that people should be educated on.
Having a program that provides a comparative look at different systems is an excellent way of educating. This was the most beneficial aspect to my studies. My eyes were opened to how our own system works in a way that never would have been possible before the trip.
Study Abroad New Zealand is a great program for anyone interested in adventure, and learning a bit more about natural science, especially environmental practices.
I spent the night on a boat in the middle of the Doubtful Sounds and listened to the low hum of mating calls from the endangered kiwi on neighboring islands. My face became tanned from the intense sun and dusted with water vapor from the blowhole of a breeching orca in the wild.
Over the course of the three-week adventure around both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, I saw, heard, felt, and tasted the products of a land and culture that was unbelievably different from anything I had ever experienced.
Sitting in the front seat, I felt the helicopter slowly lifted off the ground, smoothly, lightly, and effortlessly. It was at that moment that I looked out the window and realized…I am in a helicopter 2,000 feet above the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand.
Before this trip, the extent of my nature watching occurred through Planet Earth. I learned what a scale insect was and I licked the honeydew droplets off several (it tasted excellent). Perhaps most surprising to myself, I walked down a rocky forest path barefoot, as a girl who had never hiked before this was quite an accomplishment.
While in New Zealand we had activities planned for us everyday. This is an aspect of the course that makes this program unique. There is never a dull moment!
The whole time we where hiking all I could think about was how breathtaking this experience this was climbing a glacier in New Zealand. When we reached the highest point of the hike we saw the Kea, which is the worlds only alpine parrot that lives only in New Zealand.
A few things that I found myself thinking about frequently were the excursions through caves where bioluminescence naturally occurs in worms, a glacier hike, swimming with dolphins, seeing live kiwi, hikes through Abel-Tasman, spending New Years Eve on a cruise ship in the Doubtful Sounds, and much more.
You look up to see a simulation of the night sky. In reality, the “stars” on the roof of the ancient cave and on the surrounding walls are light cast by unusual carnivorous glowworms.
This is one of the greatest experiences I could have had as an incoming freshman. This program allowed me to get my first look at what college work is like. It also allowed me to meet other students and establish a friendship with them that will continue back on campus.
During this two-week trip I was more deeply exposed to a different culture than I was during my whole four years of high school.