Alumni Spotlight: Isabella Shapiro

Isabella (Izzi) is from Baltimore, Maryland and is an early childhood education major at a small school here in Baltimore.


Why did you pick this program?

I picked Pacific Discovery for many reasons. First it allowed me many opportunities to volunteer in unique ways. Second and one of the main reasons I chose Pacific Discovery was the awesome adventures they packed into each day.

Hiking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, surfing, rock climbing and of course the option to sky dive and bungee jump! This program really shows you both Australia and New Zealand in depth which I wouldn't have gotten to experience on any normal trip.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

YES! DO IT! No questions asked just do it. You won't regret it.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

The piece of advice I would pass on would be to really take advantage of every opportunity offered. Even when you are exhausted or maybe something doesn't seem like its so fun, looking back on the trip you will be so glad you did it.

For example my group decided to go for a morning swim every morning that we were able to and no one ever regretted a morning swim! Also take advantage of your program leaders and ask them any question you may have. You learn a lot about the country you are traveling in and they can help you.

Also the van rides do get long but that doesn't mean they have to be boring! We had many sing-a-longs, conversations and pulled over for many mid drive swims!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

While in New Zealand one of the excursions we did was a four day canoe trip down the Whanganui river. At first I didn't know what to think of paddling all day for four days but it actually turned out to be an amazing time and one of my favorite parts.

On our final day of paddling our trip leader, Holly, told us we would have to go over four rapids. We successfully conquered the first two rapids and everyone was still dry. As my partner and I paddled up to the third rapid we saw two boats go ahead us and made it out ok so we were pretty sure we were going to also. But boy were we wrong.

Our boat immediately took on water and eventually flipped. The rapid pulled me down stream where another boat picked me up and my partner ended up dragging the boat down the river until we reached a bank.

After we emptied the water out of our boat we opened our barrels to find dry clothes to wear. However all of our stuff ended up being wet. Thankfully, everyone chipped in articles of clothing and we paddled the rest of the way down the river.

That day was one of my favorite memories of the trip even though the day didn't go as planned. Often times the best parts of a trip come out of the moments you aren't expecting.

Was it hard to bond with other in your group members and the group leaders on the trip?

Before coming on this trip I was a little nervous about how I would get along with everyone. But being welcomed with big hugs and smiles from our program leaders and then being thrown right into an adventure walk there was no time not to be friends. I really liked that "first date" stage where you ask 20 questions to everyone to try and get to know them. Another big thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat and just as nervous as you are. Just being your self and its awesome how everything else comes together.