Pacific Challenge: The Best Time and People of My Life Past Review

By (Geography and Cartography., University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse) for

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse: Australia & New Zealand - Pacific Challenge

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was the best two months of my life. I gained more confidence and a more outgoing and open-mindedness than i thought i would get. Prior to going on the trip I was a recreation management major, however during it i realized that i was much more keen to the geography of it so i changed my major to geography and it has been more interesting to me than i realized it was going to be.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload is quite light, it is really just reading a couple chapters and then writing a review about it to discuss with the rest of the students. However I learned a lot more about myself and adventure sports by actually participating in them which was amazing.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

We didn't really get a lot of time with our professors and we didn't really do anything together when they weren't there when we were scheduled to. It's very well organized, I think we just slacked off the work as a whole so that when the exams came we were thrown off. One has a lot of time to get things done. By traveling through the host countries I learned more than I would have if it were just reading it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We did about 1/3 of the nights camping, but I didn't need to buy any items to settle-in with. Our group all lived together in various hostels or in our tents.

* Food:

They were very accommodating to those with dietary restrictions, and the quality of the food was great because we would make our dinners as a group together and breakfast was cereal.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were a bunch, like sky diving, SCUBA diving, caving, backpacking, we watched a wood chopping competition, kayaking, rafting and surfing to name a few.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Both New Zealand and Australia were very safe. I never felt uncomfortable or out of place it either place. There were no vaccines needed for the program. None of us needed any healthcare assistance.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I probably averaged about $600 a week, however this was due to very expensive extra curricular things like skydiving (which was $600 alone) so it bumped up my price. We also had a tendency to go out to bars every night. If I would've cut back on my drinking expenses it would have been less per week. I also did almost every extra thing they offered, where I could've chosen to do less. But it was definitely worth the $3500 I spent there for 2 months.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? They tell you to plan for $1000 to $3000 extra, everyone on our trip spent at least that. Most of the extra stuff was around $200 (New Zealand dollars so about $150 US) I would actually write down what you spend. One member of our group did this and he was much more organized than everyone else. I didn't look at my bank statements I had my mom pay my credit card for me so I had no idea how much I was spending until I got back and was surprised.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Hostel
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people
  • The traveling throughout the country
  • The adventure
* What could be improved?
  • Getting more time with our main trip leader/head professor.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? You have to be very open minded and be willing to challenge yourself. I was stressing out about doing the mountain biking portion until we did it and it was really easy. It's not hard enough to the point where you just want to give up, but its challenging enough that when you're done you can't believe you just did that.