UMD: A Globally Connected University

Ivy Li

Ivy Li

Program: UMD-Summer: New Zealand: Global Summer Internship Program (BMGT) 
Term: Summerterm 2018
Major: Operations Management & Business Analytics, Economics, and Finance 

Given the opportunity to not only go abroad but to also work at an internship abroad, I was able to receive twice the benefits. In Smith, the ideas of "soft skills" and "hard skills" are often emphasized and during my time abroad, I was able to hone both. By being on my own in a new country, my communication skills, adaptability, and time management grew exponentially. Similarly, by being able to work at a comprehensive internship, I honed my hard skills in various computer programs. All in all, I believe I now know my strengths/weaknesses better and have become a significantly more competitive applicant for future job opportunities.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a person of color, a woman, and a first-generation college student who is triple majoring, I had a lot of reservations about going abroad. Worries about safety, worries about loneliness, worries about wasting my time, worries about the financial burden, etc. My advice is to prepare and just DO IT. Going to New Zealand is actually my second time abroad and both times, I was able to find enough scholarships that there was little to no financial burden, found that my safety was never in question, and on top of it I was able to fit in plenty of practical experience while having fun in a beautiful new country!

Imagine going to a remote city 3 and a half hours away, arriving at 12am, and being welcomed by the darkness of night in an eerie, entirely empty city. Then, walking 20 minutes in the creepy emptiness to check in to a backpackers hostel, only to be woken at 4am to the fire alarm. That is how this story starts. Despite this initial impression, the next day was amazing- we traveled across Rotorua's multitudes of hot springs, ate at a local's market, and relaxed in a hot spring spa for hours on end. During all of that, I was chatting with locals about the food, was given suggestions on where to visit, and just talked about life. It was the most welcomed I had felt and somehow I felt like both a visitor AND a local at the same time.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: Like I said above, I am very familiar with the anxiety and worried thoughts you have prior to studying abroad. The biggest myth is that studying abroad is always extremely expensive and wouldn't be worth it. I found that there are many opportunities and scholarships that you can seek out which knocked out most of my costs. Moreover, your applications get a heavy boost with all the help that you can find on campus (National Scholarships office, writing center, resume review sessions, etc).

 The hardest part was the loneliness. Being an only child and a person who doesn't mind being alone in the U.S., I thought I'd be okay being alone in Auckland. I was wrong. But even though I was lonely, I took it as a challenge to meet new people and to chat up as many people as I could.