At the age of 17, Jennie Lloyd left her home in Auckland, New Zealand to pursue higher education.
Three years later, at 20 years old, she found herself at CSU, working toward a masters Degree in agricultural economics.
“I just thought Colorado sounded cool from the stories from people I met,” she said.
After completing her undergraduate degree at Lincoln University in New Zealand, Lloyd decided to come to CSU because the two universities have an exchange program, which has introduced her to many Americans, including CSU students and professors.
Lloyd had never been to the United States before, although her parents had lived in Detroit in 1982.
“It was definitely a big risk I guess,” she said. “But I didn’t let it phase me.”
Lloyd said she did not experience much cultural difference when she arrived, though her American friends had told her that she was in for a big shock due to media portrayals of American life.
She said there is a similar culture in Colorado to that in New Zealand, but things here are much more fast-paced and things in New Zealand are much more casual.
She also said that people here are not as straightforward as people in New Zealand, noting that she thinks she has surprised some people with her blunt personality.
“Yeah, some people, if they don’t know you might be like ‘Whoa’,” said Jennie’s friend Emily Cowing, a sophomore business major, to Lloyd. “Yeah, I put myself out there,” Lloyd said.
Biting her lip, Lloyd thought hard about cultural differences she has encountered since arriving here in January 2007.
She concluded that people are more easy-going than she had thought they would be and that people had more knowledge about New Zealand than she thought they would, something her parents said has changed since they lived in the U.S. in 1982.
“Few people had heard of or knew where New Zealand was. And we even got asked, in a small town in Texas, how long it had taken us to drive there,” said Gael Lloyd, Jennie’s mother, in an e-mail interview.
“Last year when we were over, we noticed a change in that people showed recognition when we said we were from New Zealand.”
Jennie said the youth culture is slightly different in New Zealand because people become financially independent at a much younger age, noting that she left home at 17 and has not asked her parents for financial help since that time.
“We are more financially independent, but the average 18-year-old here could hold a better conversation,” she said.
Spending time abroad
Both Gael and Jennie said most people spend time abroad when they are young, working and travelling, before they begin their careers.
“We are used to working hard and living on small amounts of money,” Jennie said. She said her parents were supportive of her decision to come to America, and Gael said they only had reservations about the time she chose to start, noting that it may have been easier for her if she had waited to come in August instead of in January.
“Going to Colorado was another big step, and we are sure it will have taught her things about herself and life that she would not have found out without the experience,” Gael said.
“The connections made with people will hopefully benefit her in future employment and job prospects.”
Plans after Colorado
After graduating, Jennie hopes to go back to New Zealand, “get an easy job and not worry about a career.”
She said she has thought about moving back to Colorado permanently but has not yet made up her mind.
“I know what you feel and what you expect to feel is different,” she said. “So I want to go back [to New Zealand] and re-absorb the culture.”
Entertainment Editor Cece Wildeman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.