While most of us here in Charlottesville are trying to get through the crazy cold, second year student Callie is having a blast exploring the warm and sunny New Zealand. This semester she is in a study abroad program called EcoQuest. I decided to ask her some questions so we could get an idea of what the experience has been like so far. You should also definitely check out her blog to stay up-to-date with her latest adventures!
- First some general questions: What is your major/minor, career interests, etc.
My major is Environmental Science, with an intended Urban and Environmental Planning minor. I don’t know what I’m interested in a career yet!
- What program are you in, and why did you choose that program?
My program is called EcoQuest, through the University of New Hampshire. I didn’t even think about studying abroad until last semester, and when I found the program I knew it was perfect! I met the admissions lady, Donna, at the study abroad fair and she said I was a perfect fit for the program. Here is a little bit more about that on my blog.
- What classes are you taking? What is your favorite class and why?
I am taking 4 classes, but we don’t have designated class times. As my program only has 26 people on a small campus on the rural east coast of NZ, we are very flexible. We are learning all the time about all subjects in the program, and are never in just one class – which makes it easier to make connections between material! Since we are never in just one class, I don’t remember exactly what classes I am in, but if you’re interested I believe they are listed on the website.
- Have you encountered any big culture shocks?
As for culture shocks – I haven’t had too many! But driving on the left side of the road, and going around the traffic circle in the other direction, is definitely weird! Also, pedestrians walk on the left side of the sidewalk/trail as well! The chocolate isn’t as good – so that’s sad. Also, having bare feet in cities or in restaurants is completely normal. In general, I find kiwis much nicer on average than Americans, and they are always willing to help when needed.
- How has your perspective changed on the environment, sustainability, culture, etc?
I never thought of NZ having the same environmental problems as the United States, but they do. In fact, they have caused similar damage to their environment in a much shorter span of time – Europeans have only been in NZ since 1840s. We’ve learned a lot about policy in NZ, and I find it interesting that the government and public cares a lot more about their environment than in America. In general, the public is educated and interested in environmental problems.
- What has been your greatest experience so far?
My greatest experience so far was probably hiking the Pinnacles – which is the highest peak on the Corromandel Peninsula. We saw the sunrise on the top and from there, you could see both bodies of water on either side of the peninsula. It was a super tough hike, but so worth it!