Lancaster County to Dunedin, New Zealand

Olivia Gerstenbacher sits in the BSC which is located at the center of Elizabethtown College’s campus.

Elizabethtown, Pa. – Olivia Gerstenbacher has always dreamed of traveling outside of the country, but she has never had the opportunity to fulfill this goal. The idea of studying abroad has forever sparked Gerstenbacher’s interest, and the time for her to chase her dream has finally arrived.

Gerstenbacher, a Pittsgrove New Jersey native and an Elizabethtown College junior majoring in psychology and minoring in biology and cognitive science, is finally getting the chance to travel to a new country.

Elizabethtown Encourages Studying Abroad

Olivia Gerstenbacher is ready to embark on a new journey as she prepares to travel abroad to Dunedin, New Zealand next semester. She will study abroad at the University of Otago.

While abroad, Gerstenbacher will live in a flat, which is an apartment-style living space. She will live with other international students who are also studying abroad.

Gerstenbacher is very thankful for the abundant number of opportunities that Elizabethtown College has offered, and she appreciates the strong relationships she has formed at the college.

“I love how the small student body fosters really close and personal relationships with a lot of people,” Gerstenbacher stated. “Going along with that, I love the relationships that are formed with professors.”

Gerstenbacher noted that these close relationships with her fellow students and professors encouraged her to seize the opportunity of studying abroad.

The Elizabethtown junior is remarkably excited to travel to Dunedin, but the nervous jitters are also setting in as she begins to prepare for this tremendous trip.

“I have never been out of the country and have never been on a plane,” Gerstenbacher said. “But I am so excited to have the opportunity to become integrated in a culture outside of my own.”

Passion For Nature and Education

Gerstenbacher has started to investigate the unique locations she can visit while abroad, and she is eager to experience the bountiful hiking opportunities in New Zealand.

“I love hiking, any outdoors activities and trail seeking,” Gerstenbacher exclaimed. “I have hiked all over Pennsylvania, and I have been to places like the Whiterocks Trail, Pinnacle Point, and a lot of the Appalachian trail heads.”

Hiking is one of Gerstenbacher’s favorite hobbies, and she wants to explore Roy’s Peak while in Dunedin.

“I am so excited for all of the outdoor opportunities,” Gerstenbacher said. “I want to witness the landscapes that I have never seen before and go on multiple-day hiking excursions.”

Along with hiking, Gerstenbacher is enrolled in four classes at the University of Otago. She will be taking marine ecology, statistics, comparative cognition, and developmental psychology. She is most thrilled to be enrolled in marine ecology because this is a subject that has interested her since her childhood.

“I will have marine ecology class sessions outside on the beach,” Gerstenbacher stated. “They have an incredible outdoor lab on the shore so the students can get hands-on experience with the marine wildlife.” 

Besides the marine ecology course, Gerstenbacher is also eager to take comparative cognition. This class will compare different species and question if other animals possess consciousness.

The Elizabethtown junior leaves for the University of Otago on Feb. 4 and will reside there for the entire semester until June 18.

Olivia Gerstenbacher is extremely grateful and ready to fully embrace New Zealand as she ventures on this trip of a lifetime.  

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