Nic Chupp, a sophomore psychology major, chose to fulfill her cross-cultural requirement by spending her spring semester in New Zealand where she is learning about being independent, furthering her study and communication skills and pushing herself out of her comfort zone.
New Zealand consists of two main islands and many smaller surrounding islands in the south Pacific Ocean. It’s home to many mountains, trenches, coastlines and kiwis. A Kiwi is the national flightless bird of New Zealand, and is also another name for a native New Zealander.
Although Chupp isn’t staying with a host family, she is still experiencing life with people from other cultures.
“There are five of us in total, two Americans, one Canadian, one Norwegian and one Kiwi,” says Chupp. “They are all so super sweet and already in these first few weeks they have become like family to me, I am so thankful.”
Moving into an apartment with strangers was a hurdle that Chupp was unsure how to cross. By pushing herself out of her comfort zone and expanding her horizons, she has made huge leaps in areas she thought would be a struggle.
Chupp is studying in one of New Zealand’s smaller cities, Dunedin. This city is built into the side of hills, and is near one of the coastlines of New Zealand. Most of her travel time was spent alone, however, she is there with other BCA students. Chupp is the only student from Ohio.
Chupp had many different choices of where to travel and chose New Zealand because of the environment there.
“I picked New Zealand because it was the country I knew the least about and I had heard rumors that New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries in the world,” says Chupp. “I heard that there was a long of opportunities for recreational sport/ activity because of its climate/landscape, and that interested me because I like the outdoors.”
Not only is New Zealand almost 8,000 miles away, it is also 18 hours ahead of the United States.
Chupp flew from Cleveland to Chicago. Then from Chicago to Los Angeles alone. From Los Angeles, she boarded a flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Her final flight was from Auckland to Dunedin.
“It was about 20 hours of flight time and about 24 to 26 total travel time with layover and whatnot,” says Chupp.
Chupp’s daily activities consist of class, hanging out with her roommates, relaxing in their apartment or exploring parts of Dunedin.
By having free time to explore, Chupp has come across one experience she said she’ll never forget. The group of students she is traveling with took a hike to the base of Mount Cook, which is the highest mountain in the South Island.
The hike was around three miles long, however, Chupp said the view was well worth the distance.
“That entire valley was just so beautiful; it was just awe inspiring,” says Chupp. “I felt privileged to be one of the few humans who got to witness that beautiful mountain with their own eyes.”
Other scenery made the distance well worthwhile. Chupp and her group members saw an avalanche down the side of the mountain.
“In the valley there was also a lake called Lake Tekapo, which is a lake made from melted glacier water that runs off of the mountains,” says Chupp. “I kid you not, it looks like cool blue gatorade, the color is unbelievably comparable to the glacier water we saw.”
Although she has spent most of her time traveling, Chupp has not yet had the opportunity to visit the famous Hobbit House from Peter Jackson’s film franchise based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Not only is New Zealand home to the famous Hobbit House, it is also home to a collection of street artists. Dunedin, the town in which Chupp is staying, is home to a colorful street art trail. Local volunteers raise money through crowd sourcing, fundraisers and other means to pay local artists, Chupp said.
Traveling from Dalton, Ohio, a small village with a population of around 1,800 people, to an island with a population of around 4.4 million people has given Chupp a new perspective regarding community.
Chupp speaks with her family at least once a week, but says for the most part she is busy exploring and they are happy that she is enjoying her time in New Zealand.
“I have had an amazing [time] in New Zealand and am already thinking about seeing if I can do another semester because five months just doesn’t seem like enough time to experience it,” says Chupp.