CEM Study Abroad Spotlight: Leslie Bonthron

Leslie Bonthron is a CEM senior and Honors College student who studied abroad during the spring semester in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury.

Fox Glacier

Leslie Bonthron is a senior in CEM and an Honors College student who studied abroad during spring semester in New Zealand through CEM's University of Canterbury exchange program

Why did you want to study abroad? 

I knew coming into college that I wanted to study abroad because I wanted the chance to experience a culture and a community in a way that visiting for a few weeks doesn’t allow. I chose New Zealand because I wanted to go somewhere that would be hard to visit again (29 hours of traveling just to get there is really hard). 

Mt. John

Best experience:

The best experience was definitely the three-week break we had in April. My friend and I took an 18-day road trip around the South Island and saw so many incredible things (Lake Tekapo and Milford Sound were some of my favorites). I spent the last part of the break checking off #1 on my bucket list by scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.

What did you learn about yourself or the culture you were living in?

I learned that I am more resilient than I thought – many things did not go to plan, but I was able to adjust and make the most of every situation. 

Milford sound

What was the hardest part, and what advice would you give to future study abroad students? 

The most difficult part for me was being away from Purdue/home for a whole semester. There were a lot of things that I missed throughout the semester because I wasn’t on campus, but the experiences I had totally outweighed the things that I missed, so I haven’t really missed out on anything (in reality, everyone back at Purdue has missed out on studying abroad). What helped me was having friends back at Purdue remind me that this was my one chance to study abroad and that Purdue would be there when I got back. 

Would you suggest study abroad for other CEM students? Why?

Yes! Do it! You learn so much about yourself and the world – it’s crazy. Seriously, college is one of the only times that we can pack up and move to a different country for six months for the sole purpose of learning about the country and the culture without having to worry. 


top photo: Exploring Fox Glacier with friends

middle photo: Atop Mt. John overlooking Lake Tekapo

bottom photo: Milford Sound is often called the 8th Wonder of the World, and rightfully so. Even in the cold and the rain, the views were breathtakingly gorgeous.