Kalie Staples is a psychology major with a minor in sociology. She studied abroad in Wellington, New Zealand, working at Clyde Quay Primary School as a student teacher. She worked for six weeks before traveling through New Zealand and Australia for one month.
I was fortunate and lived only a block away from Clyde Quay in a three bedroom, two bathroom flat with four other girls from America.
What effect did studying abroad have on your life?
Studying abroad gave me a whole new perspective on myself. I’ve always been independent, but when you are living in a new country suddenly you understand that you need to rely totally on yourself. Looking back its incredibly rewarding to realize that everything happened because I had the courage to push forward. I feel incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. Many people think that they will have time to travel later in life but before you know, life will have passed you by. Not only did this help me grow personally, but as I am applying to graduate school I know that it will stand out that I have had over 200 hours of student teaching and experience working with recovery programs for at-risk students.
In what ways did you connect with a new culture?
Since I was working in a school, I was able to work in an environment with students from over eight countries. Each morning the teacher would play her guitar as the students danced and sung in Maori – it was captivating and very beautiful. It was touching because there was an autistic boy in our class but each student would take turns keeping him company or assisting him with homework. I’ve never seen such a community, especially among such young chlidren.
Describe your best memory from this experience.
My best memory was when I was backpacking up the northern island of New Zealand. One brisk morning I went bungy jumping into the Waikato River. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous – I was so excited. Suddenly, when I was standing at the edge I had a moment where I realized how crazy I was for doing this. I was trusting that everything would turn out in the end and had to just jump. I screamed the entire way down until I plunged into the cold and refreshing river. The fear was gone and all that was left was pure adrenaline leaving me lost in the moment. Bungy jumping was like studying abroad. I didn’t realize what I was getting into, but I conquered my fears and afterwards found myself renewed.
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