Uprooting yourself from your culture, from everything you know and love, from the comfort of home, and navigating life in a completely new place would be daunting for anyone. But for Katie Byers, it was exciting and enlightening.

“I am capable of so much more than I ever gave myself credit before,” said the Manchester senior who spent spring semester at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. 

“It was the best experience of my life and I wish I could do it all over again,” said Byers, a biology-chemistry major from Fort Wayne. “Being in another country completely removed from everything you know really lets you know your limits and what you are capable of. ... I had to go outside my comfort zone and it honestly changed me for the better.”

In New Zealand, Katie enjoyed breathtaking scenery, friendly people, and a culture much more relaxed than that of the U.S. She also planned side trips, cooked for herself, drove a car, and was responsible for everything she did. 

At the university, Katie studied anatomy, Hinduism and Buddhism, the Māori society (New Zealand’s native people), and improvisation – her favorite class because it helped her make friends.

Living on the nation’s South Island, Katie discovered that “no one seems to be in a big rush and everyone you meet goes out of their way to be nice or helpful. Everywhere you go is in pristine condition and safe as could be.” 

Back in North Manchester, Katie is active in campus life. She’s played on the women’s basketball team, blogged as a social media ambassador, and was a Student Orientation Leader. She also has been active in TriBeta, an honor society for students in the biological sciences; Fellowship of Christian Athletes; Manchester Catholics; Student Athletic Advisory Committee; Students Today Alumni Tomorrow; and Manchester Activities Council.

After Manchester, Katie plans to become a physician’s assistant.

“I love working in the hospital setting and getting to help people,” she said. “I have worked as a patient care tech since high school at a hospital in my hometown. I love to be a part of someone’s healing process and helping them on their way to recovery.” 

New Zealand isn’t the only place that has changed Katie’s life.

“When I came to Manchester I was very straight-laced, rigid and close-minded,” she said. “Through the years, I think Manchester has allowed me to come out of my shell and become much more social and open to new ideas.”

By Karen Kanyike ’18