Thursday, November 7, 2013

Adventure is Out There

"Needless to say I was on my own; starting from scratch in an unknown world."

We recently received a letter in our office from a student who had studied abroad in New Zealand, entitled "Adventure is Out There." The letter is featured in our November Newsletter, but I'd like to post it here as well, so that it can be read in all of its glory. It is particularly wonderful because it touches on both the challenges and rewards of study abroad.

Adventure is Out There
A Letter from Kim Laufenberg

                 How to start……..well it’s not every day you find yourself flying at 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. Talk about nerves--that was one of my first commercial flights ever! I was leaving everything I’d ever known in search of a new adventure. Little did I know that after 5 short months, New Zealand would impact my life in ways I never would have expected.
                  We all remember first moving to college, the excitement, the worry. But there was also comfort there. Comfort that we could go home during the holidays or just make a quick call if we wanted to hear how the family was doing. I did not have that luxury. I knew no one and flying home was not an option. There’s a 17 hour time difference between the U.S. and New Zealand. Therefore unless my friends or family made plans ahead of time, they were never on online when I was.
                 Needless to say I was on my own; starting from scratch in an unknown world. I still remember my first week, missing home, worrying about how I was going to fit in. Then I met Allie, my best friend while I was abroad. The fear washed away. Everyone has a best friend or two. But this was different. We both had no one else, stuck in this new place. It honestly was friendship at first sight as crazy as it sounds. We both were engineering majors who just wanted to get out of the classroom and explore.
                And that’s what we did. I went to classes too, no worries, but nearly every weekend I traveled. Castle Hill, Queenstown, Picton, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Mount Cook, talk about adventures! Though New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous, it’s not just the place that made it amazing, but the people I met along the way that made it unforgettable. The friends I made and traveled with got closer to me in a few months than people I’ve been friends with for years! It was our experiences, our adventures together that took our friendship to another level and sealed it for good. I’ve only been home for three months and already one friend has visited me! I certainly plan to stay in contact with everyone I met there and possibly visit them too.
               It is so very hard to describe an experience such as this. I still struggle with it. Everyone comes up and asks me, “How was your trip?” and all I manage to get out is, “epic” when really, it was so much more. It changed my life in many ways, some I likely don’t even know about yet. I felt nearly every emotion in the book and journeyed through some of the most beautiful and hospitable terrain (from Hobbiton to Mordor). I simply am no longer afraid to take that risk because if you never take the next step forward, you’ll always be in the same spot. So take that leap because adventure is certainly out there!

Kim Laufenberg studied abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand through UW-Platteville's affiliate, CCIS. 


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