(Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences)
Study Abroad student
Two years ago, University of North Carolina student Hannah Croxton would never have imagined herself flying alone to a small country on the other side of the world. Now, after a six month study abroad experience in New Zealand, Hannah considers herself an honorary Kiwi. She even surprised herself with her abilities, and returned to The States with new skills, perspectives and memories to treasure.
Hannah, a biology and environmental sciences student, is passionate about sustainability, a major influence on her decision to study in New Zealand.
“I did a lot of research about potential study abroad destinations and liked that New Zealand had a good reputation for being beautiful and environmentally conscious. I knew the University of Waikato had a really strong environmental science programme, so it was perfect,” she says.
She took advantage of the University’s Study Abroad Network (SAN) to explore the country, attending trips to Taranaki, Rotorua and The Coromandel. The highlight of her exchange was her solo trip to Nelson, a challenge that pushed her outside her comfort zone.
“All of the trips were incredible and I loved going meeting new people through SAN. But my most memorable experiences were hiking the Abel Tasman Coast Track and kayaking next to baby seals in Nelson. I felt like I grew up a lot because I was able to experience everything by myself.”
Hannah quickly grew accustomed to New Zealand culture, citing the laid-back Kiwi nature as one of her favourite things about the country.
“In New Zealand, everyone I met was so genuine and interested in getting to know other people. It was so different to anywhere I have ever been, but I really liked it,” says Hannah.
Looking back on her trip, Hannah is grateful for the experiences she gained and the personal growth she achieved.
“I learnt a lot about myself on this trip, mostly increasing my confidence in my own abilities. I was really proud of myself for adapting to a different culture, making friends, and succeeding in my classes. I am now the president of my university’s rock-climbing club and I feel like I couldn’t have done it without the leadership skills I developed in New Zealand.”
Bitten by the travel bug, Hannah recently travelled to Montana to visit two close friends she made while in New Zealand. She is excited to plan her return, once she can save the money.
“I loved every minute of the experience and I wasn’t ready to come back home! I can’t wait to go back to New Zealand with my friends and family one day!”