Beth Milan – New Zealand Education Abroad Interview Questions
What motivated you to want to study abroad?
Like most great experiences, I heard about the New Zealand Faculty-Led Study Tour through friends who had previously gone and had a blast. I also personally know a few of the faculty who have gone on this trip for several years, and they encouraged me to consider it as well. As part of my graduation requirements for my major, I also need ‘experiential learning’ credits, and overseas experiences are considered ‘career boosters’ because they show you are expanding your horizons. Considering all of these things, I decided to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
In what ways were you able to fund your study abroad experience? (i.e. scholarships, financial aid, etc.)
Most of my trip costs fit into my financial aid package, which was adjusted for the additional expenses by being overseas. I was also granted a scholarship through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, who govern this particular trip – this was an award given to all students who filled out the application, and was really simple to have. I appreciate that assistance in offsetting the cost. The rest of my trip was paid for on my own. I actually asked my parents to give me a little spending cash for the trip instead of buying me anything major for Christmas, and that helped me purchase extra snacks/souvenirs while I was overseas.
What international University/program did you attend/participate in?
I choose to do the New Zealand Faculty-Led program entitled ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ through UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand.
What were your housing arrangements?
While in New Zealand, I had an individual room in one of the dorms on campus at Lincoln University in Christchurch. All of the students from Nebraska lived in the same building, Hudson Hall. There were several days where we took a bus tour to other parts of the country, and on those evenings the group was housed in lodges, or ‘backpackers’ in rooms of 4-5 people.
What were some of the highlights of your time abroad?
When I first got to New Zealand, I found myself looking for things that were similar to home and comparing them. Though it is foreign, there are some mannerisms of people, some similar brands/stores, and some similar landscapes. After being in New Zealand for a week or so, I began taking note of more and more things that were entirely unique to New Zealand and unfamiliar to me. I thought it was neat how quickly I adjusted to life there and how alive I felt. Each day was a new adventure, saturated in gorgeous scenery and interesting agricultural and historical educational opportunities. One of my favorite experiences in New Zealand would be a hike I took in the hills around Rangitata, as well as the view of some of the incredible lakes and rivers with crystal blue water. I also really loved the farm visit in Te Anau, where we enjoyed some family time and a dinner after our tour of the farm. I also cannot forget the amazing view of Milford Sound, where waterfalls poured out of the landforms on all sides of us. I have been telling everyone who asks this question that I struggle to rate the top 5…and would be best suited to pick a top 5 things from EVERY DAY I was there – it was truly the trip of a lifetime, and there is no way I could ever have gotten to see and do as much as I did if I had gone with any other group. For more details about my experience, visit http://nzchroniclesbeth.blogspot.com
What was the application process like?
Applying to this trip was much simpler than I anticipated. I filled out a form with my information, some of my campus involvement, and then wrote a brief essay about why I wanted to participate on this trip. I then found one faculty member who could serve as a ‘reference’ for me, and before I knew it, I was accepted!
What advice would you give to students who are thinking about studying abroad?
First of all, my advice would be to just go for it! I hesitated to make a commitment to this at first, because I am somewhat shy and didn’t want to spent money…but I do not regret my decision to go at all. Be sure to try new things – especially food. I discovered that I like things there that I don’t necessarily like in the USA. Also, never be afraid to ask questions or have someone explain why things are the way they are in another culture. Many times, we do different things, but for the same reasons as those in other countries. Be sure to pack lightly because you will want to bring back souvenirs, and take LOTS of pictures because you cannot remember everything. Also, it is really helpful to talk to people who have gone before, so you can get an idea of what you will experience. Not only does this help you set a few goals (I will not leave until I do X, Y, and Z) but it also is beneficial when you are deciding what to pack.
What do you plan to do with your study abroad experience now or in the future?
I am not entirely sure what my future holds at this point, but I am noticing already this semester how my trip to New Zealand has increased my understanding of some things we discuss in my classes that I didn’t know there was any other perspectives on. I thought they were simple, basic truths about how things work, but now I know there is so much more out there. I also love to look for ‘New Zealand’ things here at home that I wouldn’t have taken note of prior to my journey abroad. If I ever find myself searching for a job opportunity that isn’t in the Midwest, I can easily see myself settling down in a little community in New Zealand and becoming one of them. I hope that no matter where I end up, I continue to have an open mind about unfamiliar things, and continue to have the boldness to try new things that I found while I was abroad. Going to New Zealand helped me realize how much I was failing to notice all the incredible scenery around me even here at home and I am delighted by how much my eyes have been opened upon my return. Also, I am prone to the typical American rushing-through-life style, but since the pace of life is more relaxed in New Zealand, I have found myself settling down and taking a break more easily than I used to.