This last spring semester of 2018, I left the classroom to set out on a new exciting adventure. I headed down south to spend the semester studying in Wellington, New Zealand. I arrived in the capital of New Zealand, a city bigger than I had ever experienced in my life. Living not only in a new country, but in a large busy city was all new to me coming from the quiet city of Missoula. Wellington is a unique city in the sense that it contains multiple different enviroments. For example, I could walk from city central, to the harbor, and then to the hills—home of their famous botanical gardens, within minutes. Everything I could possibly want to explore, was just a few steps outside my flat. While in New Zealand I was able to experience the real “kiwi” lifestyle. This lifestyle involved drinking lots of flat whites, site-seeing the breathtaking countrysides and crystal clear rivers with monstrous brown trout, and of course tramping through the land of the Lord of Rings. The exploration was endless. However, through all this exploration I gained something more than just experiences—I gained the skill of leadership. Traveling alone allowed me to gain confidence in my independence, which in return allowed me to be confident leading others when traveling in groups and while working with other students for my courses.
While in New Zealand I not only explored a beautiful country, I was also able to study in a country that taught differently than our home University at UM. Gaining more knowledge on my global challenge of mental health, I took different psychology course at Victoria University of Wellington. These courses allowed me and pushed me to think more critically about not just how the mind works, but also the issues that arise in the psyche as well. By studying psychology in a different country, I was able to experience cultures from all over the world and come to a conclusion that mental health is a leading problem worldwide. On top of my studies, I attended several mindfulness workshops on how important it is to be present and not get caught up in the material world. With the combination of experiences through the psychology courses and workshops, I’m excited to be able to apply what I learned into our GLI Senior Capstone project on different mental health issues at a local level in our very own town of Missoula.
Studying abroad was one of the most challenging, yet, rewarding experiences this far in my academic career. It allows you to open your mind and experience things you never thought you were missing out on. It’s an experience of a lifetime and one everybody should take advantage of.