Discovering New Zealand by Francesca Ramacciotti, Environmental Resource Management major


Posted: May 25, 2016

My experience in New Zealand is the first step in showing my aspiration to make a positive impact on the environment around the world.
At the face of the Franz Josef Glacier

At the face of the Franz Josef Glacier

Traveling to New Zealand was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had while at Penn State. Not only did this two week study abroad opportunity allow me to immerse myself in another culture, but it has provided me with valuable experience in the environmental field. The diverse lectures combined with active field visits helped to reinforce ideas and concepts directly related to my studies. I know that I will continually utilize the information I have learned in New Zealand to help me progress in my future career.

Numerous locations around the South Island of New Zealand directly relate to my previous and future coursework as an Environmental Resource Management major. One location, the Franz Josef Glacier, specifically resonated with me. Because of increasing global temperatures, the glacier is significantly retreating. In a few years, people may not be able to walk on the glacier or even have the same experience that I had hiking up to the glacier’s face. This opportunity to see the Franz Josef Glacier was important as it demonstrated how we are negatively impacting the environment around us. It is my hope that in my future at Penn State and in my career, I will be able to learn how to positively improve the environment and make changes that will benefit those in the future.

Many other experiences I had in New Zealand had similar effects on me, just as the Franz Josef Glacier did. While at Lincoln University near Christchurch, New Zealand, our group hiked both Hinewai Reserve and Quail Island. Both areas are actively managed in order to protect wildlife and plant species that thrive there. We also visited a wildlife refuge where we were able to see the official bird of New Zealand, the kiwi. Throughout the country, we also took notice of their sustainability efforts; one major contribution was the Container Mall in Christchurch, an outdoor shopping area constructed of shipping containers that were used to bring in supplies following their devastating earthquakes a few years ago. White water rafting, horseback riding, paddle boarding, and a winery tour were just a few of the other amazing adventures we were able to participate in while in the beautiful country of New Zealand.

From my travel abroad program to New Zealand, I gained a wealth of information regarding environmental studies. In addition to this knowledge, I have also learned a lot about interacting with individuals from other cultures. Many of the great memories I have from my trip deal specifically with learning about the people of the country and being able to interact with them. One of the nights we were in New Zealand, we watched a traditional Maori experience, a performance done by the indigenous people of New Zealand. This trip and this experience in particular has provided me with great skills in communication and understanding, especially with those who come from a different background than I do.

In the future, I know that my experience of traveling to New Zealand will demonstrate my passion for the environment. To a potential employer, I believe this experience shows my desire to constantly learn more about the environment around the world, not just in our own backyard. It is my hope that in my future career, I will be able to make changes that have an effect on a wide variety of people and places on this Earth. My experience in New Zealand is the first step in showing my aspiration to make a positive impact on the environment around the world.