The following was written by Makenzi Kopp, who is on the UGA Women’s Track & Field team. She is studying Marketing through the Terry College of Business and had the opportunity to study abroad during the summer of 2019.
I was lucky enough to take part in the UGA Discover Abroad Maymester Program in Australia and New Zealand where I studied International Business and Sustainability. Throughout this trip, I had many moments where I had to step back and ask myself, “is this real?” I got to do and see things I’ve only dreamed of! One dream fulfilled of mine was swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, which contrary to popular belief, is not entirely bleached and dying coral. It is full of color and life, including sea turtles who swim up to you and use you as a shell cleaner. National Geographic, including the distinguished David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, happened to be on the island at the same time and gave us an eye opening lecture one night and told exciting stories of their career. They also photographed us in snorkeling in the reef which will be on their social pages soon!
Time and time again this trip made my jaw drop. A few of my other favorite highlights include swimming with hundreds of wild dolphins in Kairkoura, bungee jumping off a bridge in Queenstown, and seeing the Opera House lit up at night in Sydney. The best part was I got to experience all these amazing things with 31 new best friends! Being an athlete, it’s most convenient to have friends in the same circle as you, but this trip provided me with 31 unique friends that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. We shared an unforgettable experience with each other that we will bond over for life.
All of the beauty I saw and fun I had was matched with an education on how we as business students can follow the triple bottom line and actually have the elements of planet and profit work together. Businesses are becoming more invested in their Corporate Social Responsibility and are striving to be as green as possible. Going into the business world, we have the power to make decisions that will make our environmental footprint as small as possible and not leave a detrimental effect on our earth. Both of our Professors on this trip were so knowledgeable and passionate about what they taught, making our courses enjoyable. Dr. Fortuna really challenged me in my business thinking, to not just think about the profit aspect, but to think about every element involved. She is an experienced business woman herself and will be such a great mentor going forward. We are even planning a reunion for the fall where we will all go see her son’s band play! Our other professor, Melissa, taught us the importance of a sustainable future and sparked a passion in me towards this. I’ve learned that it’s all about the small, daily choices, such as eliminating single use plastic, that will add up to make a big difference in our planet. Lastly, our TA, Rob, is an Australia native and provided amazing insight to the culture and was definitely a light to the group. His life story and career endeavors are captivating, including his time as a rock star guitar player which we got to see in full effect at LEI. Traveling across the world and seeing the beauty of our earth firsthand drives me to take better care of it and be mindful of my actions in my business career.
Here are some pictures that only captures a glimpse of what I experienced! Enjoy!