Today’s blog post is a conversation with API Summer 2019 participant Stephanie Hernandez. She’s doing a very unique Summer National Expedition and Internship Program with Massey University. Today we’re chatting with her about how she’s preparing to trek across New Zealand!
API: Tell us a little about yourself and why you chose the summer program with Massey University.
Stephanie: I’m an Earth Science major and an Environmental Biology minor, which is where this program kind of came into play. It’s more focused around my minor, which is more focused around what I want to do in the future. I’d like to do environmental surveying or something in that realm; there’s too many options!
I chose this program because it’s in line with environmental. This one specifically is environmental and agriculture, which is really cool. It’ll be a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.
Originally I was a Bio major and I switched to this bc this was more along the path of environmental, because we don’t have an environmental major at Cal State Fullerton. But we do have a Masters, so I’m going to be applying to that… so that’s my focus when I get back.
API: What sparked your interest in this field?
Stephanie: I grew up learning things like to recycle, to save water; those little things you think about when you think about saving the world! Then I learned that there’s much more to it as I got older, but my mom started us on that path so it’s just been a passion I’ve continued with. I love being outdoors; everything with nature is awesome.
API: So this program sounds like it’s kind of a perfect fit for you! Compared to other programs, there’s a lot of “in the field” aspects.
Stephanie: Yeah! It’s a very busy and full itinerary. We’re going to be doing three different case studies in a matter of two weeks. We’ll be presenting the week after and during that week is when we’re also starting our internships. So it’ll be very busy, because even during the internship there will still be questions to answer so it’s not just having fun outdoors; you’re still doing a little bit of coursework.
Then you’re summing up everything that you learned from the case studies and the internship to kind of put together this idea of how the environmental and agricultural work together with policies, the people and their culture, everything!
We’ll be going from place to place; staying in different hostels. There are a few places that are set. When we’re starting our internship we’ll be in Napier, which is by Hawke’s Bay.
API: I imagine this all is affecting how you pack, as it sounds like you’ll have to be more mobile than usual?
Stephanie: I’m a light packer so that works in my favor. What doesn’t work in my favor is that it’s winter [in New Zealand]! It’s hard to pack all the layers into smaller packs. I have one main big suitcase that will stay at one of the main lodgings while we’re going on our day trips and overnight trips. Then I bought a pack for overnight trips which I haven’t packed before as I’ve never done it this way before. That’s new; that’s going to be a little bit of a challenge as I don’t really know what to put in there.
I know one of the nights we need a sleeping bag, so I’ve got that all set. I made sure to buy a small compact-able one so it will fit in my pack. I even packed protein powder in case I don’t have time to go get food; there’s a lot of little things I’m trying to think of and I’m hoping I don’t forget anything.
API: What are you most excited for?
Stephanie: The most fun for me will probably be the adventure part of it. We’re going to be exploring the North and South Islands, which is amazing because we get to see parts that tourists don’t normally get to see as well. I’m going to be taking lots of pictures.
It will be interesting meeting new people. I’m always initially shy but once I get to know someone, I’m pretty good! It’ll be interesting; I’ve gone on a few trips by myself before. I don’t have any fear meeting new people and for those who like meeting new people, this is perfect. There’s at least 23 other people in this program so that’s a lot of new faces from all over.