UMD: A Globally Connected University

Ilana Leonard

Program: The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): University of Otago
Term: Spring 2016

Study abroad has impacted me in more ways than I can say. I know everyone says that, but it’s true. The people I've met, the places I've seen, and the things I've gotten to experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. I feel like I've become a much more confident and outgoing person who is always up for any new experience that my come my way.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: To other Kinesiology students, I would say absolutely study abroad in New Zealand at the University of Otago. They have lots of classes that can fulfill requirements and I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to study abroad. To other Jewish students, I would say to carefully consider how important certain aspects of Judaism are to you before choosing New Zealand. The Jewish population of New Zealand is very small, and you have to accept that going in.

One of my most memorable experiences happened within the first week when some of my friends and I from my program decided to go on a sunrise hike on the Pineapple Track, one of the local trails in Dunedin.  After staying up and hanging out until about 12:30 am, we somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed at 3:30 am to start hiking by 4 am.  Although we all slightly complained on the way up about the early hour, the steep track, and the cold wind, we managed to make it to the top in plenty of time to see one of the most spectacular sunrises I've ever seen. Watching as the sun rose over our new home, and watching Dunedin come to life as people started going about their day is something I will never forget.  It was one of the first moments where I really felt a sense of home, and it made me even more excited to explore the rest of the country in the months to come.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: Absolutely study abroad!  You find out so much about yourself when you travel.  You are pushed out of your comfort zone and it forces you to find the self that you want to be.  It's one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I will never forget it.