For now …

Goodbyes are hard. 

When I was young, whenever I knew something was about to end, I would get scared. The fear would well up in me and cripple me. I can’t begin to count the number of times I hid from having to say goodbye. Whenever possible I was always the first out the door and down the street –  or when that wasn’t possible, I would try to sneak out a side door.

The few times I was unsuccessful at either strategy, I would find myself crestfallen and a wave of deep sadness washed over me.

One of the most difficult goodbyes in my life was when I headed to college. I was 17 and was going to be the first in my family to go to college and as a first generation college student, I felt a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed. 

A few days before I left, my grandmother sat me down and told me “When you leave, don’t look back.” Her conversation caught me off guard because I wasn’t expecting to say goodbye this early – but, grandmothers often know how to reach out to their grandkids – and she knew me better than anyone in the world. 

She would continue the conversation by telling me how proud she was of me and how much I meant to her. 

I cried when she told me this and I even suggested that maybe I should stay and take care of my grandfather who had had a stroke just a few months earlier. As soon as I started to bargain with her, she told me “this isn’t goodbye, it is just for now.” 

Now that I am older, I think of endings as just – for now

It is a wonderful way to look at things. 

For now implies there is a future – that our relationships will continue and that our paths will cross again even as we divide and separate.

For now is what I told our study abroad students tonight. 

These 24 students are amazing young people who I cannot wait to cross paths with again. 

For most, I will have the pleasure of seeing them around campus when Fall semester begins. 

We will plan times to meet and also bump into each other as we make our way to classes and meetings. I love to bump into my former students as I walk around Purdue. It is like seeing old friends. We catch up, when there is time, and I learn what they are up to now and I can hear how they have grown.

I’ve seen firsthand the growth in this short three week program and I’m eager to see how they grow even more when they return to campus.

I rarely get a chance to meet and interact with undergraduate students up close and personal. 

As professors, we rush to classes and then rush off to our next class or meeting. There seems to be a lot of rushing around. Rarely do we get a chance to know a student unless they find themselves needing to come to office hours, which honestly never happens.

From talking to students, it seems they rarely get a chance to know a professor beyond the classroom as well. Perhaps we are unapproachable or perhaps their schedules are too busy. Whatever the case, it seems that professor-student interactions are rare outside the classroom.

I think this is one of the reasons I do study abroad – to get to know our undergraduate students – our future doctors, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, and other budding health care workers.

I am honored to know each and every one of our students who were part of this study abroad. 

As you probably know, as the parents, grandparents, friends or boyfriends/girlfriends of these students, these are a special bunch of folks. They are smart, funny, passionate and compassionate. 

I’ve learned a lot from them and am proud to say that I know them and am proud that they are here at Purdue.

To each and everyone one of our students (Mary Kate, Ally, Tori, Lauren, Tiki, Lexi/Fern, Maggie, Alexa, Katy, Katie, Maria F., Maria S., Nicole, Leilah, Catherine, Taylor, Maxine, Danielle, Daniel, Chandaly, Erin, Celine, Brittany, and Emily) thank you for this amazing adventure. 

Also, thank you to Kristofer and Luke who helped pull off this tremendous program – without their help this program wouldn’t exist.

To all of you, for now!

– Dr. Stewart Chang Alexander

Adventures in Queenstown

As we come to a close in beautiful New Zealand, my group spent a few days in the adventurous town known as Queenstown. In the midst of all the beauty, we all tried to capture pictures to show our friends and family what we got to experience.

However, words nor pictures can show the true beauty of the land, but we can try.

Here are a few pictures captured by myself and my peers of our adventures:

Through trails, up to some high peaks, or down to the shore we traveled…

Through the Southern Light Project: Luma, leading us to neon gardens, bright pyramids and a giant disco ball amongst the trees…

Some spent time at the shores looking at quirky pieces of art made by locals, or going through a market. Others went luging and even bungee jumping.

There was something for all of us to explore. But what I think I’ll miss the most about this town is leaving all my friends. We have grown so much throughout the last three weeks. From sharing countless memories, mouth watering desserts, and even warmth that comes from each kind individual’s presence (or maybe because it was as cold as late November in Indiana). But I  can speak for all of us in saying that we appreciate all of you back home, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, family and even friends. Thank you for all the support on our trip, and allowing all of us to experience this together. And thank you to Stewart, Kristofer and Lukas for guiding us. And a huge thanks to all the friends I made on this trip, you guys made this experience so much more memorable.

To finish off, here are a few more pics of me and my peers:

Thank you all,

Daniel Luna

(Photo Credit to: Alexa Poynter, Brittney Funk, Catherine Egley, Celine Jusuf, Daniel Luna and Pratik Iyer)

Ben Lomond Summit

Bright and early before the sunrise, four of us headed up to hike the Ben Lomond Summit. The trek is one of the longer hikes near Queenstown. Brittany, Emily, Maria S. and I started through the first hour climbing over large rocks in our steep path and began questioning what we were getting ourselves into. Then the trail changed into a new two hour hike farther through shrubs and clouds to reach the saddle of the mountain. We could not see much while in the clouds which contributed to the group’s low morale. Nearly the moment we reached the saddle, the clouds were completely below us and the summit peak was visible. The sky was bright blue above us and every direction we turned there were various mountain peaks. The clouds had hidden the peaks from the town below all week and it was our first glimpse at the extensive mountain ranges around Queenstown. The view was amazing above the clouds and we took the time to sit, eat our packed lunches and take it all in. Though our bodies were sore, we had a new motivation to continue the next hour and a half to the summit. This part of the climb was more vertical and required extra focus with frequent stops for water. The summit had snow patches everywhere a and a monument at the top showing the countries in each direction. The 360 view was breath taking and the joy of completing the climb was very rewarding. After our time and endless photos from the top, we began our trek down with aching knees. We met Chandaly, Maggie and Lexi at the saddle and they joined us in our hike down to meet the rest of our group in time for dinner. 

But was that enough hiking for us? Nope. We decided after dinner to re-hike the climb to the saddle at night to view the stars from above the clouds. Brittany, Chandaly, Taylor, Lexi and I began the second trip up the mountain with flashlights to guide the way. It was well worth it. The saddle gave us amazing views of the stars and we even found the Southern Cross constellation in the sky. Though some of us had spent 15 hours straight on the mountain that day, it was an absolutely wonderful experience to be in the nature for every stage of the day!
-Maria Frenzel


The start of the Ben Lomond Trail.


Walking through the clouds trying to convince my group to keep going …


Almost above the clouds!


Finally above the clouds and amazed at the views!



Took a left and continued the climb up to the summit!


The steep summit almost got the best of us. 

360 video view from the top ^


FINALLY MADE IT! 

—-

Then the journey continued for a night hike and stargaze.



Two thumbs up for 15 hours on a mountain!!!! (:

06/02/2017 Friday in Queenstown

Today we hiked up the Tiki Trail on mountain Ben Lomond, our destination is to the top to Bob’s Peak. The easiest way to get there is to take Skyline Gondola. Quick fact that Queenstown Gondola is the steepest in the southern hemisphere. You can imagine how hard it was to hike up there. This hiking track starts at the base of the Skyline Gondola winding its way up through the pine forests of Ben Lomond Reserve to the top of Bob’s Peak. The hike was said will take 1hr to complete, which turned out to two hours to hike up there. The trail was very steep, it was a big work out to our legs. But once we got to the top, we are rewarded with some spectacular views of Queenstown. From the Bob’s Peak, you can see Coronet Peak to the north and the iconic remarkable mountain range to the east, both of which are ski resorts in the winter. Across the deep blue waters of Lake Wakatipu to the southwest you see Cecil and Walter Peaks. It’s truly awe-inspiring! And not only the panoramic views of Queenstown, there are plenty of activities and attractions we can do. Bungy, paragliding, zip line, and luge…It’s a good place to work on your bucket lists. Before sunset, we got back down by walking the trail and on the way down was much faster, it only took us 45 mins. To end our fantastic day, we had the Fergbuger-the famous burger in Queenstown and it was delicious.

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By Maxine Bi

Milford Sound

Today was a day of unparalleled memories. Today was the day we witnessed Milford Sound and all the beauties that it held within. As we descended further and further into the mountains that were formed by glaciers, it felt almost as if I was in a scene depicted by a fiction Novel. The lurking fog of early morning cascaded over the engulfing mountain ranges surrounding us. From afar you could see remnants of the once enormous glacier from atop the mountains. As we diverged deeper into the heart of Milford Sound a glass like fiord could be seen. We soon embarked on a ferry to greater explore the natural wonders of this magical place. During this journey we encountered not only amazing wildlife but natural wonders as well. We witnessed multiple cascading waterfalls as well as Dolphins and fur seals. I had an interesting encounter with the dolphins; when I was capturing their amazing qualities I bent a little too far over the edge of the boat and unfortunately lost my water bottle to Milford Sound. I am actually completely okay with losing my water bottle though, because now Milford Sound with always have a piece of me, and I will always be with this life changing location.None of us will ever forget the memories we made here, we will keep them with us forever.

-Danielle Caravella  June 2017

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Meat and Potatoes: A Food Experience 

Since I was a kid, family dinner has always been an important aspect of the day. We spend hours talking, laughing and interrupting each other. To an outsider, it probably looks like absolute chaos, but to me it looks like love. I actually wrote my Purdue application essay about family dinner just to put into perspective how important that time is to me. Besides the amazing family dynamic built around that table, the family dinners also resulted in a little friendly competition. Whoever finished the meal first was deemed the winner. Naturally, I wanted to win, so I learned to eat quickly. Although I didn’t realize it then, my desire to win caused me to lose my appreciation for food which wasn’t sparked again until a few months ago. 

I was sitting in a classroom on campus with 35 other students who were exhausted and thinking about the million others things that needed to be accomplished before the school week started. It was then, that Luke challenged us to quiet our minds, put aside the worries and stresses of the week, and truly focus. This was a luxury I hadn’t granted myself in weeks as I had gotten caught up in exams and projects. To start off the exercise, Luke passed out a chocolate to each of us. On a normal day, I would have popped that bite sized chocolate in my mouth and barely tasted it, but instead, Luke created a chocolate experience. He began by explaining the importance of the chocolate to him and then encouraged us to taste the 400 different flavors in the chocolate, to feel the textures in our mouths, to let the melted chocolate coat our tongues, and focus as the chocolate traveled down our throats. It was one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had in a classroom and it gave me a new appreciation for the complexities of taste. 

This process of experiencing food was not something I had done before, but after getting back from class that day, I knew I wanted to continue to truly appreciate food. While here in New Zealand, I decided to try different foods and take more time to enjoy them. I have realized that raw fish and mussels are better than I thought, pumpkin is delicious, and the texture of bananas is enjoyable. While I am grateful for the experiences that have resulted in those conclusions, they pale in comparison to the dinner at the Tamaki Village. This village might sound familiar to those who read Maria Steins’ blog. (Fun fact about Maria, her and I have had a fair amount of food experiences at McDonald’s because even though we are across the world, we are still broke college students:)). Anyway, let’s get back to the food. The first glimpse of our dinner at Tamaki Village came when we watched two muscular men take off several heavy cloths covered in dirt and pull out three huge metal baskets full of food from the underground cooking pit. Steam billowed out of the pit and off the food as the intense smell wafted around the guests, enveloping each one in an inviting embrace. But just as soon as we saw the food, the group was quickly ushered away and for the next twenty minutes we sat listening to some of the most beautiful songs and watching dance performances.

When we finally got to dinner, my stomach was growling. I put a little bit of everything on my plate to ensure that I got the full experience and went to go sit back at my seat. I put my napkin in my lap ( I hope you’re proud Mom:)), picked up my fork and knife and dove into my meal. I quickly noticed myself falling into the habit of eating without tasting. I could tell you that the food was delicious, but that would have been my only descriptor. After realizing that speed had become my priority, I slowed down and immersed myself in the experience.

As I cut a piece of chicken, I began to think about the Māori people asking permission from their guardians to obtain all the food on the table. They take nothing without permission and take both small and large harvests as a sign. Once I put the bite in my mouth, I envisioned the hard work, time, and thought that went into preparing the meal. I acknowledged how grateful I was to be surrounded by a group of incredibly selfless people who had so graciously opened up and shared their culture to a bunch of strangers, and I began to taste the earthy flavor that resulted from the dirt covered cloths. Since the chocolate experience, I have come to appreciate that food isn’t just one flavor. It’s the combination of many different flavors, so I took the time to see if I could taste the different flavor notes. The texture revealed the perfect timing of the meal (the meat was tender and moist) and it became clear that every detail was carefully planned to make our stay perfect. The Māori did not take any shortcuts which was apparent by the hours it took to cook our meal. 

Between bites, I also drank the wai (water) that they had placed at the table. To me, water had always been water. There was no meaning or history. It was just plain water. But to the Māori people, there is a meaning and story to everything. They described the rain as the tears shed from the sky because it misses the earth. In simpler terms, I was drinking the tears of the sky. Tears of intense longing, pain and love. The tears of love give us the water necessary for life and we must take that love and reinvest it into a ensuring healthy land. 

Now I’m going to challenge you to partake in a similar food experience. Next time you eat, take the time to think critically about your food. Consider the history, come up with descriptive terms besides delicious and yummy, and appreciate the preparation. Next, look at your food. Determine if there are different textures and colors. Begin to smell the aroma of the food as you bring it to your mouth and take the first bite. Taste the variety of flavors and notice them radiate through your mouth. Take it one step further. Can you taste the sun? What about the hard work that it took to prepare the food? When you’re ready, swallow your food. Feel it move down your throat. Picture the energy from your first bite navigate its way through your body to power your movement and your thought. 

Slow down your body and mind. Forget for a second that we live in a world where speed is celebrated and enjoy the moment. By appreciating the different notes of life, you will be able to develop a more sensitive palate to the world around you. 

Milford Sound

Today was a day of unparalleled memories. Today was the day we witnessed Milford Sound and all the beauties that it held within. As we descended further and further into the mountains that were formed by glaciers, it felt almost as if I was in a scene depicted by a fiction Novel. The lurking fog of early morning cascaded over the engulfing mountain ranges surrounding us. From afar you could see remnants of the once enormous glacier from atop the mountains. As we diverged deeper into the heart of Milford Sound a glass like fiord could be seen. We soon embarked on a ferry to greater explore the natural wonders of this magical place. During this journey we encountered not only amazing wildlife but natural wonders as well. We witnessed multiple cascading waterfalls as well as Dolphins and fur seals. I had an interesting encounter with the dolphins; when I was capturing their amazing qualities I bent a little too far over the edge of the boat and unfortunately lost my water bottle to Milford Sound. I am actually completely okay with losing my water bottle though, because now Milford Sound with always have a piece of me, and I will always be with this life changing location.None of us will ever forget the memories we made here, we will keep them with us forever. IMG_2340.JPGIMG_2573IMG_2377.JPGIMG_2403.JPGIMG_2413.JPGIMG_2517.JPG 2IMG_2453.JPGIMG_2488.JPG