The Study Abroad Newsletter

In the end

Shawna Smith

Business Management major
Victoria University, New Zealand

Shawna on Bridge over pond My time studying abroad in New Zealand is actually very difficult to articulate. This has been an extremely transformative experience and I have learned so much about myself along the way. During the trimester, we are given a two week study break. At first, I was planning to go on a group trip to the South Island but as I began planning I realized that I wanted to take this time to travel alone around the North Island. In the past, I have always had a travel companion and it felt appropriate to take this opportunity to travel alone. For the first few days I had a rental car and used that advantage to experience a lot of “off the beaten path” locations. I stumbled upon so many amazing places and really enjoyed being alone to move at my own pace. I dropped my rental car in Auckland, then proceeded to slowly take buses back down to Wellington. I stopped in four more beautiful towns along the way down and took my time to explore each location. This experience helped me learn to slow down and really enjoy each moment. My favorite part of this trip was sitting in a thermal pool by myself listening to the wildlife around me. I found so much peace in those moments.

Once classes were over, my partner came to visit me and we wanted to take the time to explore the South Island together. We decided to rent a camper van and spend four weeks camping and driving around. Then we took the ferry back up to the North Island and drive up to Auckland. For me, this was another experience to learn about myself, my limits, and my ability to communicate. We took our time commuting to each location. We really enjoyed waking up in valleys, surrounded by mountains, and listen to the birds singing above us. Each day brought new challenges and new adventures. The best part about this trip was being able to stop whenever and wherever we wanted. We did minimal planning and let the island decide where we would stop. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. My experiences in New Zealand have reshaped the way I way I view the would and the limitless possibilities my future has to offer.