Gretchen Burkey '19 studied abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand—a place with a unique environmental history and endless hiking. As an environmental science major and outdoor adventurer, New Zealand was the perfect choice for her study abroad destination.
What was your favorite/most memorable experience?
I went on a hike with three of my friends to Mt. Cook National Park and there was a little hut you can hike to, Mueller Hut. The first part of the hike was 2,000 really steep steps and then it led us up the mountain and around a ridge in knee deep snow. We stayed at the hut for two days. The first guy to climb Mt. Everest founded the hut. It was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done and the most beautiful place I have ever been.
Do you have any examples of ‘culture shock’?
There are a lot of little things—like you don’t have to tip there. Also the music, I really got into their music scene. There is a lot of reggae, a lot of local bands who perform at bars and on campus. New Zealand has a very diverse range of landscapes—for someone who loves to be outside, there's so much to do. New Zealand has one of the most diverse range of landscapes. You can be on a mountain skiing in the morning and at the beach surfing later that same day.
In what ways has this experience changed you?
The world feels bigger. Being in another place makes you a lot more aware and open-minded. I was actually on my own and became more confident in my communication skills and it gave me motivation to continue traveling and learning about other places and cultures.
Gretchen Burkey '19
Major: Environmental Science
Hometown: Wooster, Ohio