Posted: May 23, 2019

“I have learned to simply say “Yes” to the opportunities that scare me the most, and I am continuously surprised by the gift of personal growth that I gain in return.”

The view outside of our hostel during a free day spent exploring Queenstown, NZ (adventure capital of the world).

The view outside of our hostel during a free day spent exploring Queenstown, NZ (adventure capital of the world).

To start, I would like to express that my trip to New Zealand far exceeded any expectations I thought I had prior to embarking on this short but sweet adventure. After learning about the country throughout the fall 2018 semester, I departed for New Zealand over winter break as an embedded course (ERM 499). Studying this country has shown me obstacles farmers are facing and their innovative solutions, restoration efforts in response to wildlife threats, and actions taken towards improved sustainability and environmental support.

What made this trip the most memorable for me was the people. Both those whom I traveled with and those I met along the way. To start, this trip was led by the most wonderful, positive, and adventurous professors, Rob and Tammy Shannon. Additionally, traveling with my fellow peers (and new friends) that I had not known prior to this course has taught me so much about being open to forming new relationships and simply being myself. Throughout the country, the South Island was filled with endless landscapes of beautiful nature and the Kiwis were extraordinarily knowledgeable about all of it. I was instantly inspired by their efforts to preserve the land and make continuous efforts to improve the environment.

The environmental support in the South Island is something I really took away from this trip and hope the U.S. can move more towards in the near future. For example, they take recycling very seriously and utilize a lot of signage throughout the island to raise awareness. In the hostels where we stayed there were stickers above the light switches, different buttons on the toilets to control the water usage, and special showerheads that utilized air bubbles to save water. The Kiwis we met that led us through tours, hikes, or excursions explained efforts they and their community were doing to be more green. From implementing paper straws to spending their free time planting native greenery, there were an endless amount of action taken in the right direction. I think Americans have taken similar baby steps in recent years but I hope one day we can be just as conscious, if not more, about helping to save our planet.

Beyond my academic coursework, I am also involved in research through the College of Ag. Sciences. I am assisting in the research of Agritourism among Pennsylvania farmers and their efforts to attract more customers to the farm as an additional form of revenue. Being in New Zealand was a really fun and exciting opportunity to learn what changes farmers across the world are making to increase business compared to local PA farmers back home. These were special encounters for me because I was able to see what I am studying in full force and in a completely unique place.

The entirety of this trip was new for me, as I had never been far outside of the U.S., nor traveled without family and with a group of strangers instead. When given the opportunity to speak with employers, I express any new skills and lessons learned from stepping out of my comfort zone. I have an improved ability to make quick and responsible decisions when under pressure as well as solve complex problems in an unfamiliar environment. I have learned to simply say "Yes" to the opportunities that scare me the most, and I am continuously surprised by the gift of personal growth that I gain in return. Most importantly, I have realized the beauty in connecting with people no matter what they look like or where they are from because we have so much to learn from each other's experiences. These memories are some I will truly never forget and I am forever grateful for the adventure of a lifetime. I will definitely be back New Zealand!

International Programs

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106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802

International Programs

Address

106 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802