UMD: A Globally Connected University

Kerri Simmons

Kerri Simmons

Program: UMD-Winter: Australia and New Zealand​ (CPSP/HONR)
Term: Winterterm 2019
Major: Marketing

My time abroad definitely helped me to grow as a person. I applied to the program on a whim without knowing anyone else who was applying. I ended up deciding to go even though I was terrified to go to a new country not knowing anyone. At our first pre-departure meeting, I met a girl who ended up being one of my closest friends on the trip and someone I still keep in touch with after returning. 

I was able to get out of my comfort zone often on the trip through a variety of experiences. I spent a day scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and another learning to surf. I climbed the Auckland Harbor Bridge as cars drove beneath us. Going abroad helped me learn to open to new experiences and push the limits of what I believe I am capable of. I have gotten much more confident in myself and my abilities. This will translate to everyday life as well as my professional career. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: My best advice is that if you are given the opportunity to study abroad, take it!! I was very hesitant at first about going abroad, but it ended up being an invaluable experience I will never forget. I loved everything about my experience- from learning about the culture to getting to know the other students in my program. Studying abroad really is a once in a lifetime experience, whether for a full semester or just for a few weeks. 

My most memorable experience while abroad would probably be bungee jumping at the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand. Queenstown, NZ is the adventure capital of the world, so I knew going into the trip that I had to do some sort of crazy activity while there. I went skydiving a few summers ago so I was hoping to try something I had never done before. A few students in my program were talking about bungee jumping, so I decided to sign up with them. I finally got to bungee jump on January 25th, the last day of the program, and the experience was incredible. Bungee jumping is something that has been on my bucket list but I've always been scared to do. I am happy I was able to face one of my fears, especially being in a new place I had only spent about a week in. I also got to watch many of the other students in my program face the same fear and jump off the bridge. Everyone cheered each other on; it was cool to see people who, for the most part had just met a few weeks ago at the start of the program, supporting each other. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: ​I would tell these students to meet with their advisor to discuss [study abroad]. Many people who think studying abroad isn't possible find out that it actually is. Sometimes, you may need to take an extra class in the winter or summer, but many times it is possible to work out a schedule that keeps you on track. I waited to study abroad until winter of my junior year, and definitely wish I had researched or met with my advisor to learn about the opportunities sooner. 

The hardest part for me was adjusting to the time difference. Australia is 16 hours ahead of the US, and New Zealand is 18. This meant there were only a few hours a day where everyone back home would be awake at the same time I was. It took some adjusting, but I found this to actually be sort of a blessing. Due to the time difference, I found myself spending less time on my phone and more time just being present and putting my full attention into my experiences abroad. I was able to talk to family and friends if I needed to, but I didn't spend too much time worrying about what was going on at home in the few weeks I was away.