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Exchange to Alaska

The mountains, glaciers and ocean overtook my senses and I was just happy to be a part of the untouched wilderness that is Alaska. Within days of being in Alaska, I had seen whales, snowcapped mountains and ice blue glaciers.

By: Katie Smith, Exchange Student

  In comparing the landscape of South Dakota to that of Alaska, it becomes utterly apparent that my experience was more than I could ever have expected.
  The mountains, glaciers and ocean overtook my senses and I was just happy to be a part of the untouched wilderness that is Alaska. Within days of being in Alaska, I had seen whales, snowcapped mountains and ice blue glaciers. Most of which, I thought I would only ever see in pictures.
  Needless to say, I also had experiences in my classes that I would never have had before.
  I had the pleasure of taking fly-fishing from an expert of the art, Ron Hulstein himself. Not only was it fun to see and catch salmon, a fish I had only seen on my plate before, Hulstein really made me feel at home.
  Hulstein is from northwestern Iowa; I tried not to hold against him too much. Hulstein is one of the kindest teachers I have ever had and definitely he has the biggest heart. I had a great time learning to cast and tie flies.
  I also had the opportunity to take Ichthyology, which is the study of fish and as a class, we got to go out on a NOAA research boat and go to the DIPAC hatchery. This is something that would not have been possible to do back in South Dakota. 
   I loved the small college feel of UAS. The teachers were accommodating and because of small class sizes, every teacher knew me by first name and vice versa.
  The Academic Exchange Coordinator, Marsha Squires, invited us over to her house for dinner and Hulstein had us over for breakfast. I doubt this would have happened back home.  
  I really appreciated the vested interest every teacher had for each of their students, and it was instantly apparent that they were teaching for all of the right reasons.
  I can’t end this spiel without talking about my favorite part of the exchange, the hiking.
  I looked forward to every weekend, knowing that I would be going out into the wilderness and seeing glaciers and mountains. Not only were the sights magnificent, but the quality time spent with friends made it even more special.
  I know that I have made memories that will last a lifetime and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity to experience a new place.
  Every student ought to take advantage of the exchange program. The unknown opportunities and rewards are amazing! 

Katie Smith is one of 16 incoming students who participated in the National Student Exchange (NSE) program this academic year.  She was here this past Fall 2008. She is currently studying Environmental Management at South Dakota State University.  
 
 

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