Name: Jacob Gray
Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Varsity Sport Participated in: Cross Country, Indoor & Outdoor Track & Field
Study Abroad Semester and Location: Spring 2015 in Christchurch, New Zealand
What is a common food there? Best meal you’ve had abroad?
I’d say it’s the fish and chips. You can’t walk for more than a block in New Zealand without running into one or two places that will make a cheap batch for you for takeout. It’ll definitely be hard going back to Wisconsin after being exposed to the quality of seafood here. As great as the seafood is, we could definitely learn a thing or two from the way Kiwis make their honey. It’s definitely not a meal, but I’ve always found myself going through a jar every week or two.
What are the three most important things you packed in your suitcase? Why?
Osprey backpack, XC spikes, and my rain jacket. A camera definitely comes in a close 4th, but I think all these things are more important with the things I do here. My Osprey backpack was not only used heavily to backpack across the country, but it was also used a lot to do my grocery shopping. I never cooked for myself or had to buy my own groceries before, but after coming here, I love waking up early on the weekend to pick up fresh veggies and honey at the market and loading them into my backpack. My XC spikes are to stay in shape and continue competing with a local club I’m a part of, and my rain jacket is to keep my dry through New Zealand’s heavy and never-ending rainy seasons.
How were you able to stay in shape or stay prepared for your sport while you were off-campus?
It has been super easy--by staying in touch with my teammates and my coach, as well as joining a local cross country club, I’m not only able to stay in shape but even improve my performance as a runner. I’m currently training for the NZ Half Marathon Championships coming up at the end of May and I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.
Do you have any words of advice for other athletes who want to study abroad?
Athletics shouldn’t hinder or prevent any curiosity to studying abroad, especially at a place like Beloit. Studying abroad can give athletes the chance to train with people in other countries, providing rare opportunities to develop as athletes. For example, before coming to New Zealand I finished Beloit’s cross country season in first on our team. Coming here and joining this club, I’m dead last but I’m learning more and more about running as I train with New Zealand’s current national cross country champion. My advice for our athletes is to find a country with the sport they play, and then just go for it. It can be a wonderful and eye-opening experience that can help you not only acclimate, but can also develop you into a stronger athlete, student, and person.