So, I’ve been back in the USA for about a month now and I’ve had quite a bit of time to reflect on my experience in New Zealand and how it’s shaped me as an individual. It has been a weird adjustment coming back to my “old” way of life—no more random weekend excursions, ocean views, or kiwi slang around me. Even though I’ve left New Zealand (although I plan to visit again someday!), there are so many things that I will carry with me forever because I chose to make that journey. I cannot express enough how amazing my experience was… so I’ve come up with 5 reasons why every Boilermaker should study abroad:
- Challenging your comfort zone makes you stronger.
While I was in New Zealand, I no longer even possessed a “comfort zone”. Every day I was meeting new people, thrown into unique situations, and constantly learning new things about the New Zealand culture and society. I hiked mountains I didn’t think I was capable of hiking, I BUNJY JUMPED, I lived in a van for 7 days while traveling, and I tried eating crocodile and kangaroo… Literally, no comfort zone existed. But, in doing all of those things, I learned so much about myself and truly realized what I am capable of accomplishing. Things I thought I would never enjoy turned out to be some of my favorite memories, and made me way more open-minded to new experiences in the long run.
- You will make friends from all over the globe.
In New Zealand, I lived with 5 other students (from all over the globe!) My flatmates (or roommates as we say here in the U.S.) were from Germany, New Zealand, China, and Scotland! While I was exposed to New Zealand culture, I also got to learn about their cultures, hear their stories, and better understand their experiences, too! Since I’ve been back home, I have already met up with 3 American friends whom I met abroad (from Michigan, Florida, and Indiana). My friend group has expanded in size (and in diversity!) I know if I ever visit Europe, I will have friends to visit AND a place to stay. Pretty cool, aye?
- Learn about the world… and YOURSELF
When I hopped on the plane to travel down under, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I would be learning in my classes, from new friends, but interestingly enough, I learned the most about myself. Studying abroad is a very personal journey and a pretty intense experience. At Purdue, I have such a close knit group of friends whom I have met through my major, campus organizations, etc. Yet, abroad, I knew nobody! In the process of basically ‘starting over’ (meeting new people, living in a new place, navigating a new campus), I learned more about my strengths and weaknesses as both a student and individual. Taking myself out of my familiar surroundings allowed me to really understand myself and grow throughout my semester abroad. Since studying abroad, I feel way more confident, have a fresh outlook on meeting new people, and have a much greater appreciation for cultural differences and diversity!
- The opportunity to evaluate how you live from a new perspective.
Studying abroad is a challenging experience. You are immersed in a completely and totally new life! Yet, living abroad allowed me to think more deeply about how I live my life back home. What do I do in my free time? How do I nurture my relationships? America is such a fast passed society. At Purdue, my life is a constant “GO GO GO”! Next class, next assignment, next meeting. In New Zealand, the pace of life is much slower and more relaxed. I took breaks between classes; I took time out of my day to visit with friends and build relationships; I TOOK NAPS! I realized how much time I devote at Purdue to studying and other commitments. While being involved and working hard towards my degree will always be a top priority in my life, I hope that I can bring back a more relaxed attitude and slower pace this semester. Time to breathe and build relationships with friends is so very important.
- The world is a beautiful place!
I traveled to New Zealand—one of the most beautiful countries on this planet! The scenery I saw, the mountains I climbed, the beaches I swam in…..were all absolutely breathtaking places. No matter where you go, you will find a refreshing and exotic beauty in our world! I thought that studying abroad would satisfy my hunger to see the world…but if anything, it only made me hungrier. I want to see more! There is so much beauty and wonder out there, and I want to explore it and learn from it!
In short, I would say without a doubt that studying abroad has been the best experience of my journey as a Boilermaker. I am fortunate to go to a University that provides such incredible support and programs to make studying abroad possible…and easy! DO IT! It will change your life!
Mallory Rotondo, Senior, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences