Nina Gierbolini

Hey guys! My name is Nina Gierbolini and I am a Senior in CALS majoring in Animal Science with a minor in Nutrition. I actually had the incredible opportunity of studying abroad twice! My first one was a two week, Intro to Animal Behavior and Veterinary Physiotherapy program in the UK. The second was a month long, Sustaining Human Culture & Natural Resources program in New Zealand. I completed both programs over separate Summer semesters; the first being in Summer 2018 and the second in Summer 2019. I was originally interested in completing a semester-long program, however, I was not able to fit it into my schedule due to time constraints in fulfilling the specific prerequisites for my major and pre-vet track. Nonetheless, this was the reason why I opted to complete two different programs instead, and I would not change my experiences for anything!

During my first program in the UK, I was able to take a special topic Animal Science elective (ANS 495) through a collaboration with NCSU professor Dr. Shweta Trivedi and Harper Adams University. This course focused on teaching the basics of physiotherapy and animal behavior and allowed me to gain hands-on experience through working with livestock, exotics, and small animals. I was also given the opportunity to participate in activities such as gait evaluations on horses, aquatherapy, electrotherapy, animal restraint, etc. In addition, we also had faculty led lectures about behavioral conditioning, livestock industries, and behavioral data. 

In a different setting, my second program in New Zealand was instead more field-based and required less lectures in the classroom. This was an amazing experience because we got to travel throughout the North and South Islands while going on treks, visiting national parks, completing service projects, and studying the natural and human resources around us. During this program I was able to visit different cities and regions in NZ including Dunedin, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Queenstown, Aoraki/Mt. Cook, Auckland, and a few others! This also provided me with the opportunity of participating in two home-stays which allowed me to further immerse myself in the local Maori culture.

I know that particularly with programs like these, a big question that usually comes up is how much should you be saving before/during the trip. Because of this, I’m here to provide tips and tricks that worked for me! Before my trip, I did not have a set amount that I was looking to save, however I decided on a budget of around $200 for extra spending money on the trip. In order to meet this goal, before leaving for the trip I tried to save money by eating at home to reduce my spending, skipping the daily trip to Starbucks, and by always saving a portion of my paycheck. Afterward, during the trip, I attempted to stay on track with my budget by considering the places I would visit and the extra meals that were not covered by the trip. In order to save some money throughout the month I was there my group would normally buy groceries ahead of time to make meals at home. This brought our food costs down to anywhere between $1-$5 each time! I also tried to make a smaller budget for each city/activity and left wiggle room for any extras or emergencies. These tips were the most effective for me and my friends on the trip considering how well it allowed us to manage our money!

My experience abroad truly made my time at NC State so much more worthwhile! It brought me new opportunities, new friends, and new knowledge, and new perspectives that I never knew were possible. It also brought me the opportunity of becoming a Pack Abroad Ambassador which I would not change for anything. This group has brought me so many new friendships and opportunities to meet people that share similar values and interests and most importantly a group of people who I can share and exchange experiences with, which I am so grateful for.