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Hello all! Even though I’m not in New Zealand yet (a little under 2 months to go!), I figured I would share the sort of things I’ve had to consider while preparing for the exchange, both as a general student abroad and specific to my plans. As my first time traveling alone and first time being in another country, there have been a lot of things to consider, and I’m still figuring out all the little details I need to keep track of to make sure everything goes smoothly. From a general traveling perspective, the main objectives I have are to complete my student visa application and to book my plane tickets to New Zealand. This has involved gathering a lot of paperwork, from information showing details of my exchange program to financial backing for the exchange. I’m very glad that the OSU and Lincoln exchange liasons, Paul Dorres and Diane De Haan respectively, have been able to answer all my little questions about this process. For my flight, the biggest thing for me was finding a flight at a decent price that went directly from the US to New Zealand since some countries require a tourist visa to have a layover there (mostly if you plan to leave the airport, but still). Fortunately, I am happy to say that I will be flying out of Portland on July 7th and will arrive in Christchurch on July 9th (July 8th in the PNW, converting between timezones) with layovers in Honolulu (first time in Hawaii!) and Auckland. It’s a long journey, but I’m sure it will give me lots of time to think, take pictures and catch up on leisure reading. Beyond that, I’ve also worked on getting my accommodations sorted on the Lincoln campus, so I look forward to finding out which flat I get placed in and who my roommates are.

In addition to being a student, another major plan of mine is to extend my thesis research into New Zealand. As an honors student and Bioresource Research major, a thesis project is a big part of my degree, and I’ve been very fortunate to be working on my project with Dr. Posy Busby in Botany and Plant Pathology. My work involves Douglas-fir seeds, and Douglas-fir is an invasive species in New Zealand due to introduction for timber production. As such, I’m planning the collect Douglas-fir seeds from several locations on the South Island of New Zealand and ship them back to Dr. Busby’s lab for DNA analysis when I get back from the exchange. While Douglas-fir isn’t regulated for export in New Zealand (due to it being an invasive), the US is very particular about use of biological material from other countries. As such, one of the major preparation steps I’ve had to take is applying for a permit from the USDA-APHIS to ship the seeds back. The permit that’s been recommended to me is free and lasts for one year before expiration, so the only tricky thing is getting the correct level of clearance with APHIS to submit an application. In addition to conducting some of my thesis work in country, I’ve also been in contact with a professor from the BioProtection Research Centre on the Lincoln campus, and he’s agreed to mentor me in some research placement credits while I’m there. Since research placement credits aren’t like a traditional course at Lincoln and requires a faculty mentor, I’ve been preparing the paperwork to sign up for these credits, and will get them signed when I arrive for welcome week in July. Here’s hoping all this goes well!

Another big thing about me is that I’m a cyclist. I’ve been racing bikes since I was a kid, and I’m currently an officer for the OSU Cycling Club. Cycling is a major stress relief for me, my main form of exercise, and I love being able to go out into the countryside on a bike. Given how magnificent and outdoors-focused New Zealand is, having a bike to ride around the country through workouts and touring is going to be a big part of my experience there. As such, the first major decision I had has been to figure out if I want to bring my bike from home or buy/sell one in-country. Shipping a bike overseas can be expensive (depending on which service you use), and the bike could get lost or broken in transit. For a while, these concerns lead me to focus on buying a bike in-country and selling it back when I return to the US (or bringing the bike back, because cyclists always need more bikes). However, when talking to another cyclist about bringing her bike to Oregon from Texas, she recommended just carefully boxing up my current bike and taking it in my checked baggage. My plane ticket came with a free two checked bags plan, so bringing my bike seems to be the most cost-effective option. Now, the logistical challenge of bringing my bike is making sure it’s clean enough to go through New Zealand customs without concerns of introduced microbes, and finding a bike shop in Christchurch that could re-assemble my bike for me. Again, I’m very grateful my program liasons are able to give me their advice in dealing with the tricky details of this process. Once I’m in country, I’ll be sure to get lots of photos of the landscapes I see on my bike rides and research escapades.

While it is less than two months out, I still haven’t fully come to terms with the fact that I’m actually going to another country, and all that that entails. While I’ve done a lot of road trips with the cycling club and friends, most of my life has stayed in the PNW. On the one hand, I’m really excited because New Zealand is a beautiful and fascinating country, and I’m fortunate to be studying at such a great land based university. On the other, there’s the worry of the unknown and how I will handle a slew of new situations on my own. I think it will only get more real and more exciting when I finally board the plane and say goodbye to the northern hemisphere for a while. I’ll keep y’all posted as preparations unfold, and what my other plans pan out to be. Happy Monday!

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Intro and welcome

Posted by: | April 20, 2018 | 1 Comment |

Hello all!

My name is Gillian and I am a junior in the OSU Honors College studying Bioresource Research. I will be studying at Lincoln University in Lincoln, New Zealand for the fall of my senior year to take some classes, do some research for my thesis and enjoy the sights and cultures of this beautiful country. As an amateur photographer, I’m hoping to use this blog to share my photos from this experience, as well as documenting all the cool places and experiences I’m hoping to explore. Thank you for visiting!

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