Study Abroad: Study New Zealand

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Study Abroad: Study New Zealand

Skylar Britt, Editor

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It is true classrooms provide an abundance of knowledge. However, some things cannot be taught within the confines of the school walls. Many lessons are best learned with hands on experiences, much like that of what a study abroad trip can provide. 

For senior Lyndsey Fowks, an extended trip to New Zealand was the most beneficial route in her journey to earn her interdisciplinary studies major in global sustainability and natural science. Leaving in February and not returning until June, the trip provided not only breathtaking views and experiences, but also educational courses unique to the country. 

“Educationally, I learned a lot more than I could have learned here if I took similar classes,” said Fowks. “I learned about Antartica which Park does not have any courses on currently. I took classes that were specific to New Zealand which taught me about their geology, geography, native plants and animals first hand, and really just learned what it is like to be an international student in general.” 

Having already traveled to Australia, Iceland, Egypt, Amsterdam, Ireland, England, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, and Hawaii, Fowks wanted to explore a new destination to add to her already impressive list of toured destinations. 

“New Zealand is the most beautiful country I have ever been to,” said Fowks. “I loved being in that community and meeting people from around the world while bonding with them. It’s perfect because I love the outdoors and being with friends.” 

The four roommates Fowks shared her time with were from Boston, Connecticut, Norway, and New Zealand. Living with a local allowed for a more in-depth view of the country as he was able to show the main points of interest.

“I hate being a tourist,” said Fowks. “It was amazing living with them. We were inseparable. We wanted to create a community where we lived. After our classes, we would drive to see as much as we could. On the weekends, we would travel around the south island which is known for adventure.”

Surrounded by the Alps Mountains, the island provides views that are unmatched by many. Fiordland National Park, Mt. Cook, Sumner, Sumner National Park, and Kaikoura were only a few of the places Fowks and her roommates explored.

“We hiked eight miles to go to the hot spring in Sumner National Park and we were in an earthquake in Kaikoura,” said Fowks. “I was excited to be able to experience an earthquake here because they have them all the time so I wanted to encounter it for myself. I was laying in bed asleep when my bed started to shake and when I ran into the hallway, everyone was acting normal because it was a 4.2 on the scale which is very common for the area.”  

While earthquakes are quite common in areas of the United States such as San Fransisco, they are not as usual of an occurrence in the Midwest, making it somewhat of an exciting experience. This was only one of the few noticeable differences Fowks noticed during her stay in the country. 

“It’s a very quiet culture, not in a meek way but in a very respectable way,” said Fowks. “New Zealanders have an interesting sense of humor. It’s dry and blunt. They have a very chill demeanor but are also hard workers with high standards. The school was hard, maybe harder than here. Universities are very prestigious—not everyone goes. They value trade schools more and the health care is amazing. Politics aren’t discussed as much and I found they were more understanding and open to opinions.”

Fowks didn’t allow herself to prepare for the trip too much before taking off on the plane. Limiting her research on the country, allowed many of the experiences to come more as a surprise.

“I tried to not have a lot of expectations going in,” said Fowks. “I wanted to go in with a open mind and not have a list of things I wanted to do upon arrival, because then I would’t feel like I was missing anything if I didn’t get to see it.”

However, she was familiar with aspects such as the beauty, geography, and level of crime, which also aided in her decision to study there. 

“The crime rate is low,” said Fowks. “Upon arrival, there is a meeting that informs everyone about the New Zealand laws. The drinking age is 18 and the cops don’t carry lethal weapons. A cop I spoke with said he didn’t want to take the job if the decision of whether or not a person lived or died was in their hands.”

Because of the low crime rate, actions found to be worrisome or taboo in The States are rather typical in NZ. 

“I had to hitch hike twice out of necessity,” said Fowks. “Hitch hiking is huge there so if something happens, you’re never stranded. I didn’t have a car there but traveling was never an issue.”

For those considering taking the opportunity to travel to a different county to continue their studies, Fowks provides insight based on her own experiences. 

“Do it, study abroad,” said Fowks. “You need to be okay with change but you should do it. It gave me life long friends that I video chat all the time. We are all going to take a trip together this winter to either Salt Lake City or Spain.”

Park University is a member of the CCIS study abroad program, allowing students to choose from locations nearly anywhere in the world to study. With many financing options and scholarship opportunities, the study abroad trip can be about the same price as a semester here on campus, depending on the chosen country. 

“I would love to go back and see more of the north island,” said Fowks. “I don’t have any regrets about what I didn’t get to see because I really utilized my time well. It was a very empowering experience. I feel like I can travel most places now on my own.”