Written by Emily Miller ’19
This post is written in response to Emily’s fall 2017 3-week trip to New Zealand led by Professors Doug Brattebo and Acacia Parks.
Studying abroad in New Zealand was an experience that I never would have been able to experience without Hiram. When I first learned about the opportunity to study in New Zealand, I thought about how I would not be able to afford something so amazing. However, upon expressing my interest to my academic advisors and Brittany Jackson in the study abroad office, I quickly realized that studying abroad could become a reality. By learning about the many scholarships that I could apply for, and learning the different ways that could assist me in funding my trip, I began to grow more confident and excited. Even with a few bumps in the road, Cassandra Tyler with Hiram’s branch of the Cardinal Credit Union worked with me to figure out what the best option would be to receive further assistance in funding my trip. By independently being approved for a loan, I was able to create an affordable payment plan that still allowed me financial flexibility with my personal budget.
I worked three jobs (in a restaurant, a bakery, and in retail) in the summertime prior to my study abroad in the fall three-week term, then three jobs (in a restaurant, Hiram’s Welcome Center, and teaching assisting) once the fall twelve-week term had begun. It was hard work to save the money that was necessary to fund my trip to New Zealand (as well as sustain myself financially with money for bills, groceries, etc.), but it paid off. I experienced the trip of a lifetime in one of the most beautiful countries on this planet.
Working three jobs as well as prioritizing my career as a full-time student was not (and is not) an easy task. It took some late nights, canceled hangouts, and copious amounts of coffee and faith to endure. But with supportive family, friends, and mentors, I persisted through what I would easily consider one of my toughest semesters yet. If it was not for the support system that stayed beside me, telling me when to breathe and when to hit the ground running, I probably would have burned myself out within the first week of the twelve-week term.
Taking care of yourself is obviously important. That is why when I planned my weeks, I prioritized time for myself. Designated periods of time to do the things I enjoy and to recharge… otherwise known as nap time. To this college student, sleep is a main priority that allows me to keep functioning as a proper adult-ish being. Never ignore the signs your body gives you to slow down or speed up. Are you feeling sluggish and not with the program on a regular day? Relax for the afternoon. Are you studying for an exam and cannot seem to focus? Go for a walk around Hiram’s campus and get some fresh air. Hear the ways your body asks you to recharge and listen.
Another thing that is crucial to remember is that being a student holds priority over being a worker. I am blessed to have employers who understand that my education is my main focus, and that I am a student before I am their employee. While that was especially difficult for me this semester, I managed to devote the necessary time needed to prepare for my classes in a dedicated manner. When midterms week came around the corner, my employers were understanding in my need for time off to tackle the workload that was towering high. Maybe I’m lucky or maybe it is just Hiram, but there were even professors who were completely understanding of my situation, and willing to meet with me to discuss how I was doing academically and personally. Hiram granted me a support system that helped me make a dream into a reality. I will also have pride in how hard I worked to make every step happen. New Zealand was the trip of a lifetime, and I have Hiram to thank.