Student Stories: An Exchange to Remember

Carson Wall

From the Pacific Northwest to the Land of the Long White Cloud, an OSU student experienced a stunning landscape and made memories to last a lifetime.

​Carson Wall, a Washington native, studied abroad in New Zealand for five months in 2017. As a senior in Forest Engineering and Civil Engineering, he spent a full semester studying at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch on the South Island while also exploring the country whenever he could.
Carson decided on New Zealand much in the same way he decided on Oregon. After visiting OSU, he knew the environment here was just perfect for him, and luckily, New Zealand shares many of those similar Pacific Northwest characteristics.  And, since international travel was his goal, he picked New Zealand for its smaller size, making the country more accessible.

Personally, he explains his intense course of study through its roots in his own childhood fascinations: Legos and the outdoors. What better way to combine them than studying how to build things and how to regulate natural resources? University of Canterbury offered classes in both of his degrees, making it easy for him to find coursework that fit well for his term abroad but also applied to his degrees back at OSU.

While enrolled, Carson not only took part in three different upper division courses, but also tried out a plethora of different clubs and activities. He said that student activities were widely promoted, welcoming, and exciting. He tried out Ski Club, Skate Club, Ultimate Frisbee, Fencing, and yoga to get a feel for student life in Christchurch. Carson even joined a soccer club which turned into a team. They took it all the way and won the championship in their division that semester!

Another main part of student exchanges is learning about a new culture. Carson describes the most difficult part as trying to understand the differences in New Zealand slang! He also got the chance to practice driving on the other side of the road, something he says took some getting used to. Finally, Carson says that the gas stations in New Zealand actually have really high quality food and are one of the best places to get a classic New Zealand meat pie.

Even though Carson spent plenty of time at the university, he also found the time to get out and explore New Zealand. His favorite trips, of the many he took, were, a visit to a hot water beach near the town of Onemana, watching the sunrise atop Mt. Fyffe near the town of Kaikoura exploring the tropical west coast of the South Island (something he likened to visiting Jurassic Park, just without the dinosaurs) and going to the village of Hobbiton.

The hot water beach itself sits above an area of thermal activity, heating the water below and allowing for visitors to create their own hot tubs on the beach. Carson and his friends hopped into a few one night to watch the stars. He was greeted by an ultra-vibrant Milky Way, the likes of which he had never seen, against a background of ocean waves.

When climbing Mt. Fyffe, he and a few friends originally intended to watch the sunset but found their visibility gone from cloud cover. However, after a grueling hike to the 5000-foot high summit at 4 am the next morning, they found “a single instance of perfection” at the top: a clear sunrise, mountain peaks emerging above an ocean of clouds, and possibly Carson’s number one favorite moment of his exchange. 

Learn more about study abroad programs around the world!

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