"Always be open minded to trying new things and meeting new people. You never know what the future holds or what can happen when you put yourself out there."

In February 2020, I flew 18 hours across the world from Florida to New Zealand for my semester abroad. Since junior year of high school, I knew I wanted to go abroad in college after experiencing a small taste of the abroad experience when I went to Costa Rica for 6 days for a school trip. So, once my courses were approved and my abroad program application was accepted in Fall 2019, all there was left to do was pack my suitcase and catch my flight.

My first week in New Zealand was filled with adventure. I kayaked, went rock climbing and hiking, practiced archery, explored the city of Auckland, and took photos of a lot of sheep! Even when classes started during the second week, I always found time to do something in between or after classes such as shopping downtown or Student Nights on Wednesdays.

As someone who likes to plan ahead of time, having such a busy and adventurous schedule pushed me to live a more spontaneous and less structured lifestyle. I found myself taking more risks and stepping more and more out of my comfort zone.

Unfortunately, after a few weeks, abroad students were asked to return home because of the coronavirus outbreak. Despite the unexpected news that my abroad journey was cut short, I felt satisfied knowing that I made the most of my experience by putting myself out there, meeting new people, and trying new things. For my last adventure in New Zealand, I completed the Auckland sky jump – a 630-ft jump off the Auckland sky tower. This jump marked the end of my study abroad experience in New Zealand but the start of my new mindset of living in the moment and trying new things outside my comfort zone.