Why Choose Temple's Study Abroad Program?

Name: Maddie
Geography & Urban Studies, Environmental Studies
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

Where: New Zealand
When: Fall 2007

Favorite Course: Environmental Ethics

Best Excursion: Silent, sunrise hike to the pinnacle of Mt. Arthur.

Favorite Dish: Gado-Gado pasta

Next Destination: Montana




One day left in the backcountry.  4am wake-up. Heading out with a full pack and 9 of my closest friends to Mt.Arthur peak at 1759meters.  Walking in silence for 4 hours, hearing only a friendly bird soaring above, and feeling the loss of breath as Mr. Sun woke up for the day.  This is what it is all about; taking time to just feel the earth.

6. For a month and a half, I was part of a 10-person family living in the New Zealand bush.  Home was three tents and three tarps which we carried, along with food and ‘necessities’, on our backs.  Through this tight-knit community, I soon discovered how much I thrive off of others’ energy as well as how essential ‘solo’ time is.

7/8. NOLS opened the metaphorical box I was living in to let me leap into life.  Living out of a backpack, relying on yourself as much as others to provide for every aspect of your day, and reflecting on each experience as it happens allows me to treat every interaction whether with a friend, stranger, event, or myself as a learning opportunity.  I now am able to appreciate going home to an apartment full of friends and dirty dishes as much as biking on a beautiful spring day on the countryside of Pennsylvania.  The keystone aspect of this huge lesson is practicing it. 

12. Have the biggest FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).  While hiking to an ‘X’ on your map, make sure you look around and notice the moss in as much detail as you notice the aged trees along your travels.  Jump into the water hole on a warm day even if it means getting into camp a few minutes late.  End point; make sure that you are there; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

14. My initial goals for the past few months have been overshadowed by what I have been taught by Mother Nature, my friends, and by the I-team, my list of instructors/teachers.  ‘Thank yous’ are being sent for the lessons on embracing time; especially if you are aware of the amount that is ticking away.  Pages of tree fibers are now selfishly covered with written words to help me help others; as well as to tend to my own well-being.  One prime example of a tid-bit Mom let me in on is to “live the life that I’ve imagined” summed up well by Henry David Thoreau.  In Her house, I do not hesitate to pick up what was left on her carpet of green by others who plated there before me, I appreciate Her rooted steps that her children have left for me, and I feel safe under Her ceiling of Nalgene-bottle blue that lightens all of the hours of my day and the sooty-mold black that tucks me in at night…

              Check List


  • Shining, lavender sea shells
  • Fungus, rocks, and sticks  for bathroom purposes


  • Rock: shelter
  • Water: nourishment
  • Flax: sitting mat


  • Graffiti: name on a wooden door
  • Adding a stone to a cairn: signify my moment at the peak


  • Cliffed-out paths
  • Uncurling, baby fern
  • All things not previously stated

Notes: I definitely have some work to do yet

…Whichever road, poled route, or track we decide to tramp on, there will always be some part of ourselves that will be left behind.  Whether that environmental footprint is recorded by a few letters on a rock; one less shell upon the shore, or by the sole of a boot, nature/wilderness will always be affected be out presence. 

              Reading an article about the forest fires in Greece mid-August clearly put the truth into perspective.  When it comes to preserving important places and/or things within our lives, we will stop at nothing to protect them.  It should not take a historic site important only as an aesthetic mark of a prior human civilization to reveal our role within the ecosystem.


  • Do not treat everything as my own, personal playground.
  • Use what I have been taught to create stepping stones for others.
  • Enjoy the moss along the walked-track as much as the ferns in the un-tramped forest.