Kenzie Woltemath - 2015 Program Participant
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I've always wanted to travel the world and love the people in it. I so often find myself stuck in my little college "bubble,” and I really wanted to see what else was out there. What new cultures can I experience? What adventures are waiting in other parts of the world? What other worldviews can I open my mind to?
Still can't believe I met a real live kangaroo at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary!
What were the highlights of your CISabroad program?
The support I received from CISabroad was fantastic. The U.S. support team answered my endless questions and calmed my nerves before I left, and the in-country support system I received in Australia was second to none. The staff took an interest in each and every one of us, and that was so comforting. CISabroad also offered some awesome group excursions and affordable housing and meal options; scholarships and grants were a plus as well.
What did you enjoy most about Australia and life in Gold Coast?
I really liked the laid-back Australian culture. It was so cool to see these people living how I've always wanted to: carefree and easy. If I was five minutes late to an event, it was usually okay because everyone else was running late as well! Plus, beaches were within 15 minutes from campus. The Aussie lingo is so unique as well. It was fun to immerse myself in this new and adventurous culture to see what I could learn.
The views hiking Fox Glacier in New Zealand were life-changing.
What do you think makes your program different from other study abroad programs?
CISabroad really does feel like a family. During the semester, each and every one of us became friends and supported one another in our adventures. During group excursions, we would all get to catch up and spend time with our "Aussie family." I noticed some programs with dozens of students who didn't always talk to each other.
I really found comfort in the fact that, no matter what, I knew I had the CISabroad family to give me a taste of home or a taste of adventure when I needed it.
What did you most appreciate about the staff at CISabroad?
Jackie and Keith were absolutely phenomenal! Any time we had a question, we could call or text one of them and they'd be quick to help us. Especially when I was feeling culture shock or a bit homesick, I could always count on Jackie or Keith to talk with me and give me that friendly smile to help me get through the situation. The two of them went above and beyond their jobs and made every one of us feel loved and cared for.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have spent less money on shopping and souvenirs, and more money on traveling and activities. So many places I wish I could have seen!
Venaka vaka levu for the adventures, Fiji - "Thank you very much!"
How was your day-to-day schedule organized?
With CISabroad, I was able to create a schedule that allowed me to take the required number of credits and still have five-day weekends to explore. So, typically I would wake up in my shared dorm, my roommate and I would go to the gym or for a run around Robina, and then we'd go to the brasserie on campus for brekkie.
We would get together with some other friends and plan our weekend's activities. Sometimes it included frolicking around Fiji or New Zealand, but most of the time we would find local adventures on the Gold Coast. We would grab our GoCards and climb in the bus on our way to Burleigh Heads beach. Spending the day in the sun was the norm, playing in the ocean or hiking the endless trails.
Then we'd grab a meal and head back to campus, where we would clean up for the night's events. We would head to the bars nearby or take the tram to Surfer's Paradise and dance the night away!
What was one of your favorite activities from your time abroad?
My favorite activity would have to be skydiving in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand. I've never seen such a beautiful view, especially from 12,000 feet in the sky! I loved that my friends and I were able to find the time to adventure around Australia, but also that we got to see New Zealand and Fiji. I had so many life-altering experiences in three new countries that really helped shape my worldview.
What were your living arrangements like in Australia? What did you like best about your accommodation?
I was in a shared dorm room on campus at Bond. We had two beds, closets, dressers, desks, and a shared bathroom. My favorite part was the on-campus environment. My roommate was another CISabroad student who became my best friend. We could easily find other people in the accommodation center to hang out with or talk to!
Skydiving in Lake Wanaka, NZ...the time of my life!
How has studying abroad impacted your life?
By studying abroad, I opened my mind to new and exciting worldviews. Whether I agree with all of them or not, I was able to put myself in the shoes of all these beautiful strangers I was meeting abroad. That alone is so precious to me.
I was in Fiji when the terror attacks in Paris took place, and was able to sit around the dinner table with people from Fiji, Australia, England, Scotland, and Sweden talking about how our world works. We came to the conclusion that if everyone on the planet had the mindset of a traveler, exploring God’s creation, opening themselves to new experiences, worldviews, thoughts, opinions, and ways of doing life, and brought those new views home with them, this world would be a much friendlier place.
Love is an international language, and the whole world needs more of it.