Constellations, Vineyards and Fjords: Jan Term in New Zealand
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Constellations, Vineyards and Fjords: Jan Term in New Zealand

Scenic view of New Zealand lake and mountains

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Converse students had a unique opportunity during Jan term this year – a study-travel trip to New Zealand.

Known for its spectacular glaciers, weathered mountains, miles of coastline and unique cuisine, New Zealand provided 19 students, two faculty members and three alumnae with two weeks of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Group photo of students in New ZealandThis is the first time Converse has traveled to New Zealand. The trip was led by Professors Will Case and Doug Jensen. Participating students earned Chemistry, Biology or Physics credit.

This trip offered two class options for students: wine chemistry or Southern Hemisphere Astronomy.

Students studying wine chemistry visited vineyards and wineries to learn about the wine-making process and sampled popular varieties of wine, specific to the region.

Students in the Southern Hemisphere Astronomy class had very early wake-up calls – some as early as 3 a.m.! Certain planets are only visible before the sun rises, warranting the early mornings.

Dr. Jensen said there was plenty of time for sightseeing, in addition to the academic requirements for the trip. The group toured many of the famed natural sights of New Zealand including glaciers, fjords, and an active sheep farm.

Read Paige Robinson’s firsthand experience:

“Before January 2019, I had never stepped foot in an airport. Thanks to Converse Across Boundaries: Learning Through Diverse Experiences program, I was able to not only have my first of many airport experiences, but I was able to travel across the world on a 28-hour plane ride to New Zealand!

With the company of two professors and 19 classmates, I spent 15 days traveling by bus and boat from the North Island of New Zealand, starting in Wellington, to the very bottom of the South Island, ending our tour in Queenstown, the outdoor adventure capital of the country.

A student photographs a waterfall in New ZealandAlong the way, I immersed myself in the civilization of New Zealand, trying new foods, absorbing the quirks, and learning the history that made each city unique and rich in culture.

Tours of the cities, caving, eating at the local’s favorite restaurants, wine tasting at famous vineyards, stargazing, glacier hiking, bungy jumping, and nature walks were just the tip of the iceberg.

As much fun as we had exploring the breathtaking land of the long white cloud (Aotearoa – the original name for New Zealand), we learned just as much about astrology, wine chemistry, and the Maori culture. I am so grateful to Converse, our professors, and everyone who made this experience possible. Or as they would say in New Zealand, Kia Ora!”