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Northwest Missouri State University

Photo-Essay Contest 2016

1st Place: Kelsey Lacy 

Photo Essay Contest


Your wings already exist, all you have to do is fly.” This quote could not have been truer in relation to my 6 week study abroad experience in New Zealand.  Alone, traveling to a completely different country, I could not have been more scared as I boarded my plane to go on June 1st, 2016.  I quickly started to learn so much more about myself than I ever thought I would in just six short weeks.  I spent my days interning at Kiwi Tennis Company, where I helped them with some of their marketing promotions. Although they didn’t have much for me to do, I enjoyed hanging out at the tennis club and meeting all of the people who came by to play and the other workers. I was able to intern with another guy name Sam who is from England. Without Sam, I don’t think I would have enjoyed NZ as much as I did. He always encouraged me to get out and see all of the cool places that he was able to experience around NZ. He even invited me on a trip with him and his other friends. The people I met, from all over the world, is what made this trip truly special. New Zealanders (Kiwi’s) are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. I was blown away by all of their genuine kindness and generosity—they would do anything to make sure you enjoyed your New Zealand trip the absolute fullest. Never in a million years did I think I would step out of my comfort zone, travel alone to a country that’s over a 24 hour trip away, realize how much I loved learning about different cultures and gain the confidence that I can do anything I set my mind to.  I spent my last week in New Zealand traveling around to some of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, or in my opinion the world. These places included (check them out, they are absolutely amazing) Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook (the highest mountain peak in NZ), Queenstown and Lake Wanaka. I am so thankful that I was able to see so many different places in New Zealand.  My experience couldn’t have ended on a better note—jumping 43 meters off the first ever bungy bridge in the world. Terrifying? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely, just exactly like my whole trip. Sometimes you just have to take the jump, even if you’re scared. You can “fly” to so many amazing places, all you have to do is allow yourself to. 

2nd Place - Courney Kern

Photo Essay Contest

Studying abroad is the opportunity of a lifetime, everyone says it and I agree. I wanted to see the world and experience a culture-shock. I needed to expand my field experience. By attending this study abroad experience I would become closer with my classmates, and find my inner-independence. Over the summer of 2016 I traveled with a class of geology students to Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, hiking easily more than 100 miles in less than two weeks. This was my first time leaving the United States and would also be the start to a constant case of wanderlust. I was only out of the United States for a short time, but over that period I grew closer to the person I strive to be in the future. I had expected a jam packed trip full of nothing but geology; I got that and so much more. Getting to know my classmates and Professor will help me make connections that will last a lifetime. The critical field work and vast amount of geology I practiced in Scotland and Ireland is something that will prepare me and set me apart for a successful career. Not only have I gained more experience as a geologist, but this trip provided me with a way to connect with the culture and better understand the homeland of my ancestors. This photo at Céide Fields archaeological site encompasses my experience studying abroad because the northern coast was, in the past, an area of growth, change, and education, and continues to be that today. On this day during our trip, we learned that Céide Fields is covered in plots of once arable land separated by stone walls and megalithic tombs, where farmers once raised cattle and built a community. As time passed, the area became a bog-land that kept these megalithic tombs and stone walls a secret just a few feet underground. After the excavation of the first few stone walls, archaeologists realized that digging up the entire area would be out of question. A better method to find the location of these walls would help keep the bog-land in the present day intact. Today, the bog is preserved as much as possible. The stone walls are mapped by staff and researching students by sticking poles into the ground to find where raised piles of toppled Neolithic-age stones once kept cattle in place. Our class took a tour along a paved boardwalk, so we did not disturb the fragile bog. This land no longer hosts a community of cattle-raising farmers, but continues to educate visitors of this fossilized Neolithic site in County Mayo. 

3rd Place - Lizzy Jurries

Photo Essay Contest 

“You American’s are all a bunch of pigs.”

“How do you expect to graduate with the work you’re giving me?”

“Are you an idiot?”

 “This isn’t going to be an enjoyable experience.”

“You will fail my class.”

On Saturday, May 18 2016, I boarded a plane heading to Rome, Italy with the intention to see the world, experience culture in a new light and meet incredible people.  I was alone and anxiously ready to embark on an adventure that so much time and money had gone in to.  Arriving in Rome was exhilarating and frightening all at once.  Right away I was able to meet the other students in my program, tour the city and indulge in the copious amounts of carbohydrates Italy is greatly known for.  I was growing fond of the foreign place I was in, and all I wanted was more.

On Thursday May 23, 2016, I attended my first day of classes.  Since I was in a summer session abroad, I took only two classes- International Business and Macroeconomics.  These two classes happened to be taught by the same professor who introduced himself as “our worst nightmare”.  “Our worst nightmare” is exactly what he turned out to be.  With only four weeks to learn two classes worth of material our time was limited and intensive.  The material was rushed, little to no help was given from the professor, we were embarrassed in ways we never thought possible, yelled at and taunted by our professor if we didn’t know the answer to his questions. In order to keep up with my school work, I studied from the time I got out of class to the time I went to bed.  I battled with myself everyday for the first week, thinking I was not good enough, in no way cut out for the experience, scared I would fail.  I remember crying with my classmates in the bathroom after class one day, devastated that this was what our experience, with what little time we had abroad, was like.

After the first week, I told myself that I could either run away from the problem or face the challenge head on.  It was a struggle to get through the classes and face my professor every day but I ended up passing both International Business and Macroeconomics.  Although hard, the classes I took gave me such great opportunity.  I was given valuable insight on how the international market plays a role in countries other than my own.  Through my intensive classes I was given the opportunity to tour the Italian Parliament and Chamber of Deputies.  I was also allowed the opportunity to visit two Italian companies in order to learn about their history, operation and the impact they have among the international market.

Through life, I have learned that you will meet great challenges every day.  It’s how you carry out those challenges that define the type of person you are.  The people and opportunities I had the chance of coming across made studying abroad so valuable and memorable.  It forced me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to prove to myself, and others, that I can overcome challenges.  Studying abroad has given me the confidence to push myself in all aspects in life and also indulge in activities I wouldn’t otherwise do.  I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given this summer.  It has changed my way of thinking critically, taught me how to accept others and pushed me in ways I never thought possible.    

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