Mi Primer Día en Granada

La Catedral de Granada

Submitted by Lana Negron on the 2024 Summer SPAN program in Granada

Today (June 2nd, 2024), was my first full day in Granada, Spain. We started the day with a walking tour of the city, which is filled with vibrancy, religion, and an extensive history. I took notice of all the important historical buildings with such beautiful and antique architecture. Most of the streets are lined with orange trees which is such a cool and rare sight to see. In the morning, the cool air helps swift the citrus smell of the fruit throughout the streets. My host parents, Agustin and Maria, and their daughter, Maria, have been extremely welcoming and have introduced my roommate and me to many of the different aspects of their culture like food and history. It has been fascinating to speak with all of them. I have learned so much about Spain so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the month has in store! (Submitted on June 2, 2024)

Lessons from New Zealand

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This is my final week in New Zealand. I am torn between wanting to go home and staying here. I had a wonderful time, but I do miss my puppies and my family.

During my stay in New Zealand, I learned a lot about the agricultural practices of the people here as well as their culture. Farmers in New Zealand simply love their jobs. Every farm we visited explained how much they enjoy being the person who feeds the whole world. One arboreal farmer in particular said he knows he has the best potatoes and he is proud to be recognized for having the best potatoes. Another farmer explained that one of his top priorities is the happiness of his employees. He wants them to want to come to work every day and enjoy themselves while working. I think that is something America could do better at. A job is not all about money and benefits, but most jobs in America are based on money and benefits. I believe if people want to come to work every day they will produce higher than a person who hates their job. Every job needs to be done effectively and efficiently. When you enjoy what you are doing effectiveness and efficiency come naturally.

I see the culture of New Zealand as very family-oriented. Businesses are passed down, everything is shut down for the holidays, and people are friendly. As I stated before almost all work in America is done for money and benefits. Therefore, children of small business owners lose their businesses because their children were given a better offer. Also for the holidays, at most a big business will close early and open later in America. Unless it is a small business stores are normally open for a few hours. I believe those hours should be spent with your family, enjoy the holidays because it’s a holiday. Lastly, people are just friendly and willing to help. Most of the time it seems like Americans are afraid to trust other Americans. I think that is kind of sad that at first we always have to think the worst of each other.

As my final week in New Zealand comes to a close, I can look back at the things I have learned about agriculture and the New Zealand people. I hope what I have learned will make me a better person now and in the future. (Submitted during Week Five).

Reaching New Heights

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This was my fourth week in New Zealand. This week we stayed in Queenstown, about a 7-hour drive from our usual home in Lincoln.

In Queenstown, we stayed in another hostel. This hostel was much smaller but I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the hostel in Lake Tekapo. This hostel had curtains on each bunk bed for privacy, which was nice for people who wanted to stay up late or go to bed early. Once you close the curtain the light on your phone doesn’t bother anyone. While in Queenstown I hiked, skydived, and relaxed. It was a more popular town than Lake Tekapo, with more people, more things to do, and more places to eat. The hike I went on was to the top of the mountain in Queenstown and once at the top, I could see the whole town below. It was a beautiful view! I skydived for the first time ever and it was a total adrenaline rush. I got to chat with my tandem on the flight down. A tandem is the person that is strapped to you when you first skydive, they work all the straps and release the parachute. I learned his mother and father both skydived, so he had been doing it since he was little, and he loved his job. Another experience I had in Queenstown was watching the buskers (street performers). I found that I enjoyed the musical ones more than the comical ones. There was one man who sang songs and his dog howled with him! It was nice to relax in Queenstown, but the area did finally make me homesick. There was a beach area and a dock for boats and water sports. Being on the dock and around the beach made me think about the beach at home and made me want to go back. It is also very soothing to me to sit on the dock and night and listen to the waves crash against the beach. I am still very much enjoying my trip, but I do wish I could share it with my family.

Hiking in Queenstown

Queenstown was a place I will never forget, and I am grateful for the opportunity to witness it. I met new people, saw new views, tried something new, and got a little homesick. I am ready to see what my last week has in store! (Submitted during Week Four).

Exploring Lake Tekapo

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This was my third week in New Zealand. This week we went to Lake Tekapo and I had my first experience in a hostel.

Lake Tekapo is a little beachy town south of Lincoln where we normally stay. It was about a 4-hour bus ride to get there. It was a rock beach and the sand was SUPER hot. The water was absolutely freezing, but it was the most beautiful water I have ever seen. While we were there we went kayaking and swimming. I took a nice little nap on my kayak while soaking up the sun and letting the soft sway of the water put me to sleep. We also went hiking on about a 5-mile trail. It only took us about an hour to get to the top (it was very steep). Whereas it took us about 2 hours to get back down (it was a long and slow decline). The view at the top of the hike was amazing. From the top, you could see the entire lake, the beach, and our hostel. There was also a little café at the top of the mountain where I got a rewarding smoothie. My experience at the hostel was not what I was expecting.

The hostel was very clean and had lots of new people to meet. In my room, there was a New Zealand native and someone from Boston. The man from Boston was traveling to New Zealand to study agriculture. This is exactly what I am doing here with my study abroad group! The bathroom was a community bathroom, kind of like you would see at a campground, but it was inside so it was clean. There was a community kitchen as well. There were about 2 microwaves, 2 ovens, 6 stove tops, and 4 sinks. It was so cool to watch multiple people at once cutting up ingredients and cooking up some tasty-looking food. In the kitchen, there was also a bin that you could put food in for other people to have, once you put something in you could then take something you wanted out of the bin. It reminded me of a Geocache, but with food.

My third week in New Zealand was a whole new experience at Lake Tekapo and my first stay at a hostel. We are going to stay at another hostel in Queenstown next week. Stay tuned! (Submitted during Week Three).

Embracing New Zealand’s Wildlife

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This week was my second week in New Zealand. During this week I have been able to see more of the town of Christchurch and experience more of what New Zealand has to offer. I was especially interested in their wildlife breeding efforts, to try and bring back endangered species. It was also nice to see the beauty of Christchurch itself.

         The kiwi is a bird that is incapable of flying and can only be found in New Zealand. They are endangered because they are easy prey and 90% of the fledglings do not reach adulthood. It is the national bird of New Zealand and there are multiple programs that are working on getting them off the endangered species list. Willowbank is a wildlife preserve doing everything they can to protect this species. They will go out into the wild and find kiwi eggs, bring them back to the preserve, and raise them to adulthood. They are working on breeding kiwi and releasing the ones they can. They are also advocating for the Kiwi, showing people what they are and that they need help. The kiwi is an odd-looking bird, but I believe any effort to save the kiwi population is worth supporting.

         The town of Christchurch has a mixture of beautiful views and a city center that includes a museum and botanical gardens. I hiked a 5-mile trail to the top of a mountain in Christchurch and could see for miles and look down on the city of Lyttleton. I am not a huge plant person but walking through the botanical gardens was very interesting. I will have to say my favorite part was the ducks. A New Zealand native saw a few of us admiring the ducks and explained a little about their species. The ducks we saw were paradise ducks, the females are the colorful ones (U.S. birds the male is the colorful one) and they mate for life. So, we saw a male and female pair with 4-5 ducklings.         My second week in New Zealand will be one to remember. This week, I have had more time to see the beauty of New Zealand. I have also been able to witness their work in protecting and supporting the kiwi population. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store! (Submitted during Week 2).

My First Week in New Zealand

Submitted by Riley Browning on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand…

This week was my first week in New Zealand. As I have been here I have been able to reflect on the differences in farm production and eco-friendly aspects of New Zealand compared to the United States. The biggest difference in farm production that I have seen so far is the open pasture farms that are here. All the livestock in New Zealand have full access to all the grass in their paddock. They are not given supplemental nutrients because they receive all the necessary nutrients from the grass in their paddock. Therefore, they are spending no money on feed. Whereas in the United States, all our cattle are fed a mixture of grass and supplemental roughages to equal the need requirements of our cattle. These dairy farms are just as efficient if not more than the United States in producing milk. The only food their cattle get is grass. We spend so much extra money on these nutrient supplements because we don’t have the space to allow our cattle full access to graze on all grass, all day, every day. Can we do better?

         Another difference I have thought a lot about is something so simple that I think it can be implemented in the United States quickly. The dining hall of Lincoln University has a separate bucket from the trash for organic material to be thrown out. I have never been to a buffet in a university dining hall or another restaurant where there is a special bin for organic material. It all just gets thrown away with the other trash. I think we could easily have a dedicated bucket for organic leftover food material that all gets thrown together and can be reused into our soil to make more food.

         The last thing I want to mention for this week is the blue water. I live in Delaware and go to the beach in Delaware. Our beach water is green or brown. You can see 1 inch into the water. In New Zealand, I can see multiple feet to the bottom of the water. The water is beautiful! What can we do to clean up our oceans? (Week 1).

Embracing Every Moment

Submitted by Stephanie Stapf on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

We are now at our final location, which is a town in Australia called Brisbane. We started off by attending a cultural tour where we learned about the Aboriginal people of the country. The tour guide provided us with extremely detailed and insightful information about indigenous practices, including those of her own tribe. I learned that the Aboriginal people were historically able to make use of the environment using knowledge equivalent to the present discoveries of scientists. Additionally, in Australia, the indigenous land is recognized in most public places, which is uncommon in the United States. I have realized how important and necessary this acknowledgment is, and am determined to educate myself on the historical and present indigenous cultures of my town.

Surfing in Gold Coast, Australia

The next day, we hopped onto a train and headed to the beaches of Gold Coast. When we arrived, the surfboards were out and ready for us. I was pretty nervous and did not think I would be able to come close to standing up on one. I ended up doing much better than I had anticipated, and rode a wave nearly all the way to shore! Surfing has never been an item on my bucket list, but I am so glad that this program pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Activities like this have made me so appreciative of this opportunity and all of the adventures I have been able to pursue. I do not think I would have signed up for a surfing lesson on my own before this, and now I can say that I am eager to surf again. 

As our final week approaches, I am trying my best to embrace every moment. I am looking forward to learning more about Brisbane, as well as more about myself. Every day has been a new adventure, and I am not quite done exploring Australia yet. 

Working through my Bucket List

Submitted by Stephanie Stapf on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

My final week in Australia was much more relaxed, but still allowed me to cross off numerous items on my bucket list. One of these items was snorkeling, which we did along a coral reef site on Moreton Island. I had no idea what to expect and was nervous about the logistics of being able to breathe. The experience ended up being less intense than I expected, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I found it so amazing how clearly I could witness all of the sea life, including the vivid colors of the fish and the immaculate details of the coral reef. These sights felt like they could have come from a movie, and it is hard to believe that I was seeing such a beautiful display with my own eyes, in real-time. The experience was followed up with a presentation, during which we learned about the effects of global warming and what we could do to help protect these ecosystems. The instructor exhibited so much knowledge and passion, emphasizing how important and urgent these environmental concerns are.

Snorkeling along the coast of Moreton Island

Encompassing everything I have learned on this trip into a paragraph would be impossible. I have discovered so much about the world and myself. This was my first time traveling outside of the United States, so I did not have any clear expectations. These thirty days have been the most eventful in my life. The sights of my first foreign country during the 6 a.m. bus ride from Auckland Airport will be ingrained in my mind forever. I embarked on countless educational opportunities while also experiencing bucket-list sights and activities. I floated on a raft through a cave in New Zealand, climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, pet a Kangaroo, and embarked on so many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences. New Zealand and Australia have a special place in my heart, and I am already planning my next trip back.

My Final Week Abroad

Submitted by Taylor Lynch on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

I can’t believe that my time on my study abroad trip is coming to an end. This has been an amazing trip, and I will definitely be leaving with lifelong memories as well as amazing friends. Going on a trip like this has been a truly unique experience, and I am very happy that I decided to go through with it and try something that was out of my comfort zone. The amazing people that I have met, as well as the new places and cultures that I was able to learn about and experience, made the long trip to Australia and New Zealand worth it. 

During the last week in Brisbane we went to Moreton Island to snorkel along the ship ruins there. When we got off the ferry and walked onto the island, I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The water was so clear and blue, and the actual island itself was covered in trees, and lots of white sand. There is a line of about 15 ships that were purposefully sunk in the water that surrounds the island. We were able to snorkel around them to see the wrecks as well as the wildlife around them. When we got into the water, it was so crazy to see how many fish as well as coral were around the wreck. Looking around at all of the different types of fish around me was such a cool experience. It was also astonishing to see all of the different types of fish there and how they all got along and were able to co-exist. On the shipwrecks, there were also many different types of corals that were growing on them, and the wrecks also acted as shelter for the fish. It was amazing to see the huge ecosystem that was able to be created from these wrecks, and how a new community of sea life is able to flourish there. 

Walking off the ferry at Moreton Island

After snorkeling we were able to learn more about the history of the wrecks that we just saw. I was surprised to find out that the ships were purposefully sunk in that area. The Queensland Government purposefully sank fifteen ships over the course of a few years in order to create a place for boats to safely stop and anchor on the island. This was really interesting to learn about and something that I have never heard of or knew was an option. I always thought prior to this experience that shipwrecks would be harmful to the ocean and its ecosystems. However, seeing how all of the animals living at the wrecks were able to flourish, and that these ships were purposely sunk, it is apparent that it was a beneficial decision for both the people as well as the ocean wildlife. 

For our last excursion as a group, we went kayaking on the Brisbane River.  I have never been kayaking before so I was really excited to try it out. I was also looking forward to being able to see the city of Brisbane from a different angle. It was really cool to be able to kayak in the river and the views of the city from where we were was really pretty. The current of the river was going towards us, so it was a little hard to paddle down the river. On the way back, however, it was really easy since we had the help of the current. This was a fun last activity to do as a group, and I really am going to miss being able to experience new things in these amazing cities. 

Overall, I had a wonderful time in both New Zealand and Australia, and have learned so much during my time on this study abroad trip. Learning about the culture and native people of both New Zealand and Australia was definitely a highlight. I think it is very interesting to learn about the history of other countries and see how it differs from the US. It was also amazing to be able to experience a new culture and a way of living. This was a good reminder of how different people chose to live their lives, yet are still able to be connected to the world around them. This was definitely a great experience, and I would recommend it to anyone to study abroad if they are considering it. 

The Past Few Days in Brisbane

Submitted by Taylor Lynch on the 2023 summer program in New Zealand and Australia…

After spending the last 10 days in Sydney, Australia, we traveled to Brisbane, Australia for the last 10 days of the trip. It is crazy to think that my study abroad journey is coming to an end, but I have greatly enjoyed my time so far. Once we got to Brisbane, one thing that I noticed right away was the difference in the weather. It is very warm here and the sun feels a lot stronger. It is a nice change from the start of the trip when we were in New Zealand, and having warmer weather allows us to take more advantage of the beautiful beaches here. The city of Brisbane is also very beautiful but isn’t as built up as Sydney is. One thing that I have found really nice about living in a city is the public transportation system. We have been able to take the train or the tram to any place that we wish, and it has been really easy to hop on one and get to our destination. I have never lived in a city setting like this before, so it was a nice surprise to be able to see what having public transportation options is like. 

View from my seat at the Australia and France World Cup match

Since we are here partially for the World Cup, we were able to go to the Australia and France quarter-final game. I was really excited to be able to go to this game specifically because I would be able to see the host country’s team play. As expected, the majority of the stadium was filled with Australian fans, and the excitement and pride that they had for their team was definitely able to be felt. Whenever their team got the ball and was close to scoring, the stadium would erupt and it was so crazy to be in an environment like that. It was truly an amazing experience and just added to the love that I have for this sport. The game was also very close and ended in a tie even after extra time. As a result, the game was forced to go into penalties, which caused a tense feeling among all fans watching. The penalty kick round was back and forth for 10 rounds until the Australian team was finally able to pull out the win. The whole stadium went crazy, and their fans were even cheering for their team and the victory as we were walking back after the game. Being in that electric atmosphere is a truly crazy feeling, and being able to be there in person at these high-risk games is a lot different than watching it from home. 

Another fun activity that I have done when in Brisbane was going to the Australia Zoo. The Australia Zoo is run by the Irwin’s in memory of Steve Irwin. I have been a fan of the Irwins for a while, so I was really excited to be able to visit their zoo. They are really big advocates for animals and wildlife conservation efforts. They also ensure that each of the animals in the zoo have the proper enclosure, and are fully taken care of. I am at times weary of going to zoos because the animals sometimes may not live in not ideal living conditions. However, this was not the case at the Australia Zoo, and each of the animals there had a very large enclosure and seemed to be content. It was really amazing to see the native Australian animals like Dingos, Kangaroos, Koalas, and so many more amazing animals. A highlight from my time there was being able to feed and pet the kangaroos. They had this area there called Roo Heaven, where you are able to go into a large open field with kangaroos and go up to them to pet and feed them. The kangaroos were surprisingly calm and were fine with people going up to them. Everyone in there was very respectful of the kangaroos and was mindful of how they were going to interact with the kangaroos. This wasn’t something that I was expecting the zoo to have and I am really happy that I was able to have this experience with a type of animal that I have not seen or been near before. 

Visiting the kangaroos in “Roo Heaven”

Overall, I have had an amazing time in Brisbane so far and on this study abroad trip as a whole. It is sad to think that I have less than a week left in Australia but I am thankful for the amount of time that I had to be able to explore Sydney as well as Brisbane. I really enjoy being able to immerse myself in new cities and a new culture and being able to learn about a different way of life. Being on this trip has helped me find a love of traveling, and finding comfort in pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I have done a lot of new activities while on this trip, so being able to let go of some of the control and put trust in others has been really important, and a skill that has grown in me.