Cecilia Santostefano, the SUNY Down Under marketing intern, writes:
Upon my acceptance into college, one piece of advice that everyone gave me was: study abroad. But I never took too much consideration to the idea and for three semesters those words of advice hid in the back of my mind. I did not think anything of it as I was walking through the study abroad fair at my university, SUNY Albany, for the fourth time. That was until I reached the SUNY Brockport table for SUNY Down Under programs.
The Brockport table intrigued me with its New Zealand service learning program so much that I went back to my dorm and applied that very day. I received notification of my acceptance that night and I had my heart set on going that summer, which at the time was only two months away! My mind was made up and, after all of the details were worked out, all I had to do was prepare for my first excursion out of the United States.
But I found as the days of preparation came to an end, I was getting increasingly nervous for my venture overseas. However, all of those nerves disappeared once I arrived in New Zealand. Over the course of ten days, my life changed in unimaginable ways and in ways that I could not predict.
During my first time outside of the U.S. and in under two weeks, I met amazing people, encountered to a new language, spent the night with the native people of New Zealand (the Māori), went swooping on a free day (which is similar to bungee jumping), participated in a research project on conservation, spent a ton of time admiring the incredible landscape, and toured rainforests and nature reserves. And those are merely my favorite memories – there are so many more!
It was the scariest, yet most exhilarating time of my life. Learning about a different way of life is completely different from being submerged into a new way of life and that is something not many people can say that have been able to do.
Now, as the SUNY Down Under Marketing Intern, I hope to encourage people like me, who have been scared to try something new, to go ahead and take the chance to do it. I look forward to sharing all of the stories that I have and all of the things that I was able to learn – about New Zealand and about myself.