International Connections

Carlie DeBack

Major: Kinesiology and Health

Minor/option/emphasis: French

Year: Junior
Hometown, State: Hartford, Wi

Type of experience: Semester Abroad
Experience: ISUAbroad - Dunedin, NewZeland (Otago University)
Experience website:
Destination: New Zealand

Overall experience..
Simply put my experience was amazing. I got to meet new people from all over the world. I lived and learned in a new culture, that changed the way I think about some things. I got to take a class that is not offered at Iowa State. I had unforgettable experiences and I have taken so much away from time abroad.

I learned...
I first learned through word of mouth, I had friend and relatives that have gone abroad and highly recommend it. So I began going the study abroad fairs, and looking online. I eventually found that I like the ones offered through ISUAbroad the best and selected where I wanted to go, which for me happened to be New Zealand.

An impact to my life...
I would have the biggest impact for me was an increase in my environmental and general health awareness. New Zealand culture is a lot more aware of the environmental impact that their actions have. While living in Dunedin I got to participate in several environmentally conscious acts, such as: no plastic bags, encouraging the use of reusable coffee cups, a climate change march, and a massive clean up effort. All these acts big and small I have incorporated into my life, and I am excited to learn more about how to save the earth which has created my desire to look more into the environmental science classes offered at Iowa State. While I have yet to take an active step towards taking such classes, I have been looking into that for my future.

My most valuable learning experience...
My most valuable experience has be joining OUTC or the Otago University Tramping Club. The decision to join was a bit rash as I have never gone backpacking before, and is was the main focus of the group. I am glad I pushed my comfort zone and tried something new. I learned so much about New Zealand and it's culture, as well as making my best friends, and meeting people from all over the world. I also learned how to be more independent and seek out experiences rather than just go with the happenings of work, school, or my friends.

I will never forget...
I will never forget the Copland Track trip with OUTC. It was 7 hour hike up the mountain ridge to some natural hot pools. There were 40 or so hikers all taking the track at their own pace. Some parts were very dangerous due to water movements and I actually fell a bit. But the real rewarding part was to watch the sun set in the valley relaxing in the hot pools after a long day. Then to back after dinner and enjoy the stars and the company (again in the hot pools) and cold mountain air. It was stunning, and I don't think it is really an experience that I could have gotten anywhere else.

A surprising discovery...
I am not really sure, I did not have much expectation going into New Zealand, because I did not really have much of preconceived idea about what the experience was going to be like, or even what New Zealand would be like. So in that sense I was and was not surprised by everything, I just kind of accepted it and adapted. The biggest change I mentioned before, is that I became more aware of what my actions do to the world. Big or small what I do can still change the world.

Advice for others...
By best advice is to push ahead and don't look back. Going abroad is not the easiest thing to do, you are alone in different country and it can be scary, frustrating, and financially hard. However, it is worth it there are life experiences and personal growth that you cannot find, by staying at home. I think of it like getting your first tattoo, you get real excited planning out and picking out the design. Then nervous going to the shop, maybe second guessing yourself. Once there so parts are painful, some are no problem. You down and get excited again because it looks cool and you are really in the process of getting a tattoo. Then it's all done, faster than you thought and you love it. It's now there on your skin forever like the experiences are in your memories forever. You leave the shop smiling and happy, and starting to think of and plan out your next one. If you can get a tattoo, you can go abroad.

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