CEM Study Abroad Spotlight: Sarah Hedberg

Sarah Hedberg is a CEM junior who is studying abroad this semester in New Zealand at the University of Canterbury.

Hang gliding

Sarah Hedberg is a junior who is studying abroad this semester in New Zealand through CEM's University of Canterbury exchange program

Why did you want to study abroad? 

I think the real question is why wouldn’t someone want to study abroad?? There are so many benefits to studying abroad – personal growth, international experience (which I believe to be increasingly important in today’s globalized society), and a full 6 months to get out of the corn fields and adventure! I guess for me it was never a question of if I was going to study abroad, it was more of a question of where I planned to go. I’m super glad I chose NZ!

Mueller amongst the mountaintops

Best experience so far:

I could talk for hours about the incredible things I have experienced thus far… but if I had to sum it up into one short and sweet answer, I would say the best experience has been all of the spontaneous, mostly unplanned road trips I’ve done with friends. Almost every weekend we are going someplace new. From hiking for four hours at 3 AM under the Milky Way to see sunrise on top of a mountain, to abseiling through caves to see glow worms, to having “yarns” (good conversations) with locals around a campfire while camping on a beach, to swimming with dolphins in the ocean, this country never ceases to amaze me!

What have you learned about yourself or the culture you're living in?

I have learned to have more confidence in my abilities and to be more comfortable with myself, to be adaptable and work through changing situations. I have learned about working and communicating with others, recognizing and appreciating each other’s differences. There have been many times when I have pushed myself to and past my limits, and I think it has definitely made me a stronger, more confident person.

Hedburg in abseiling

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

Honestly, the hardest part for me is the “study” part of study abroad. It is hard to motivate myself to stay home and do school work when the mountains are an hour away in one direction and the beach is 20 minutes away in another! I think one way future study abroad students can handle this would be to set very specific goals for how they want to do academically and force themselves to stick to it. 

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

Yes. Yesssss. YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSS!!! Have I made myself clear??? I wish I could study abroad 5 more times! You meet so many amazing people from all over the world, you get out and experience a new culture and place, AND it’s not any more expensive than going to Purdue for a semester! Also, employers LOVE it! Seriously, my advice to all CEM students would be to start the conversation with Brandon (or your current advisor) early and DO IT!! 


top photo: Hang gliding in Queenstown - The thrill capital of NZ definitely lives up to its name!

middle photo: Mueller Hut - My friend and I woke up at 3am to hike up to Mueller Hut in Mt. Cook National Park for sunrise. The hike consisted of 2,200 stairs followed by 2 more hours of uphill climbing on rocks and loose gravel. I could barely feel my legs at the end and we got lost for about 30 minutes on the side of the mountain, but hiking under the Milky Way and the 360 degree view from the top of the mountain made the hike sooo worthwhile!

bottom photo: Abseiling into the glow worm caves in Waitomo, North Island