UMD: A Globally Connected University

Chelsea Dinneny

Chelsea Dinneny

Program: UMD-Winter: New Zealand (PLSC/ENSP)
Term: Winterterm 2019
Major: Psychology and Government & Politics 

I learned to just go with the flow and to step out of my comfort zone! We were strongly encouraged to talk with locals wherever we went, and at first that seemed scary, but once we started, we couldn't stop! It gave me a new sense of confidence and a new spirit of curiosity. Everywhere we went, every day, we were learning! 

Coming back from the trip, I just looked at everything differently. I wondered how things around my everyday life could be improved, either things that would make me happier or even how sustainability is affecting my everyday life! I began to look at plants and animals differently wondering how they impact their ecosystems. Seeing so many new things while I was abroad led me to take a fresh look at my world at home! 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: The world is not the United States of America. Yes, our country is a mix of cultures but experiencing another countries culture, seeing their people, their customs and learning even pieces of how they live their lives really puts everything into perspective. Seeing maps on the walls where America wasn't the center, it was almost refreshing. In order to understand different cultures, we can't just look at them in textbooks, going out and speaking to others, listening, and understanding is more valuable than any reading you could do on another culture. ​

I did things I never thought I'd do! One day we did a twelve-mile hike, and after what I thought would be the worst part (the devil's staircase) we had to do a climb up a mountainside with extremely strong wind. Once we got to the top, we realized it was all loose gravel going down! my friends and I ended up laughing and pretending we were skiing to make it all seem less daunting, but if I had known we would be doing that I would've been so scared! I also went skydiving over Lake Taupo, which was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Several people from the group went and we all became closer after jumping out of a plane together. I learned to have fun and that I'm capable of more than I think I am!

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I'm a double major, and I could still study abroad! I thought that maybe being somewhere only for three weeks and traveling around we wouldn't be well adjusted or really experience the culture, but I was wrong! Seeing most of the country was well worth the traveling and being able to speak to locals about other places we'd been made me feel more connected to where we were. 

My luggage got lost! The first day and a half, I had to stay in my traveling clothes that I'd already spent over 24 hours in. I got to go on a fun little shopping spree and it really showed me I was traveling with good people when my friends offered me essentials I wasn't going to get for a day or two. It was a rough start to my trip but I learned to always pack an extra set of clothes in your carryon, and the first day of the trip doesn't have to set the vibe for the entire trip! I got my luggage and still ended up having a great time.