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“Global Perspectives through Student Eyes": Golden Memories from Gold Coast

Mackenzie Gemelli '18 Describes Incredible Study Abroad Experience

Exhibit GlobalPerspectives

For the Spring 2018 exhibit, “Global Perspectives through Student Eyes,” the UMass Amherst Libraries are displaying images from the International Programs Office annual photo contest, to which students submit images they photograph while studying abroad.

One of the students whose work is part of the exhibit, Mackenzie Gemelli ’18, described her Spring 2017 semester abroad in Gold Coast, Australia, as one of the best experiences of her life.

Why did you choose Gold Coast as your study abroad destination?

I chose this destination because I have always wanted to spend a semester by the beach. I went to visit my friend in 2016 who studied in Sunshine Coast, Australia, and it confirmed my choice. I chose Griffith University on the Gold Coast because it was in the middle of the east coast, which was a perfect distance to be able to travel to different cities in and around Australia. It also had courses I was able to take that transferred back to count toward UMass. 

What were the most memorable parts of studying abroad?

By far, the most memorable part of my semester abroad was meeting my amazing group of friends. Traveling to the many cities within Australia, and going on study breaks to Bali, Indonesia, and Queenstown, New Zealand would never have been the same if I didn't meet these people. Tim Cahill says, "A journey is best measured in friends, not miles," and it could not have described my time abroad better. They made leaving to return back to the States extremely tough, but that just means that the time we shared together was completely worth every second.

Another great experience was our day in Lovina, Bali. We were taken out to swim with wild dolphins before we were brought to a local homestay where they fed us an amazing meal with all naturally grown foods from their backyard. The joy the kids had in their eyes when we arrived made your heart melt. It made each one of us realize that we take a lot of things for granted and overthink the simplicities we are given. This was a very rewarding experience for me!

Another great memory was hiking with my friends in the mountains in New Zealand with no one else around. If you stopped, all you could hear was the wind, and in that moment I felt extremely empowered, and that nothing could break my peacefulness.

What was the photograph you took for the exhibit?

The picture I took was on the island of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, off the coast of Bali. Before this picture we took a bike ride around the entire island, since the island does not have any motorized vehicles. There are a few wooden swings placed along the water, which is a perfect backdrop for pictures. People lined up to go sit in the swing for the sunset to be in the background. As one person got up to let the next person have a chance for a picture, I quickly snapped a shot of the swings by themselves because the look of them made me feel very calm. I later on realized how much I fell in love with this picture and the fact that it was a very spontaneous shot made me love it that much more. It perfectly captures how I was feeling in that moment.