Emma Faucher, a senior at Castleton University, spent her junior year studying in New Zealand with a three-week period in Australia.
“I still miss it every day and wish I could bring back time,” she said.
Before going abroad, Faucher had spent her first two years studying psychology and communication at Castleton.
Although nervous about the trip, the decision to go was easy because she knew she couldn't pass up on such an amazing and beneficial opportunity.
“I definitely adjusted easier than most who studied abroad, but I think it's because I mentally prepared myself before leaving and I knew it'd be weird being so far away, but I wanted to take advantage of the short time I had doing so,” she said.
Completely alone, Faucher made the journey to a country full of Kiwis, what the natives call New Zealanders.
Making friends and adjusting to the culture was easy, she said. The hardest part was when her cousin passed away back in the States, and she couldn't attend the service.
“I feel that experience helped me grow, though, because I truly learned that life goes on with or without you unfortunately,” she said.
The process of studying abroad is a blind one, she said. She didn't know whom she was going to be living with until she physically arrived at her apartment.
“I didn't even know their names,” she said. “I found it easy to make friends with international students, but difficult to make friends with New Zealanders.”
She said they are much more reserved than Americans are.
There were very few options for classes for international students at the university where she was studying.
“I kind of just went through Castleton courses and their courses and decided based on what sounded interesting,” she said.
As it turns out, two of the classes that she progressed her majors.
She took a psychology course, intro to anthropology, a religion course and a Maori culture and society course.
“The application process wasn't too bad. I think it was mainly stressful because I had a lot on my plate,” she said, explaining how she was taking a difficult course a Castleton that didn't leave her a lot of free time.
“I had to pay $200 dollars for the application fee so that freaked me out because I kept thinking, 'what if I don't go and I lose $200!'” she said.
When she returned to the United States, she experienced what she called reverse culture shock.
“I was really glad to see people that I hadn't seen in a while, but I was mainly sad to not be living in New Zealand anymore,” she said.
After spending so much time abroad, she had to learn how to live the American way again.
“Things so simple such as tax prices added on after, walking to the right side instead of the left, driving on the right side, getting used to hearing the American accent everywhere, and even tipping!” she said.
Although there were feelings of homesickness, and pre-departure nervousness, Faucher regrets nothing about her year abroad.
“Honestly, I'd tell anyone it doesn't matter where you go to study abroad, just go! It's such an amazing experience and you learn so much, regardless of where you are,” she said. “I learned a lot about the world, but I also learned a lot about myself and who I aspire to be.”