Richard Podpirka

'As an entrepreneurship student, I love seeing the potential that Christchurch has...'

  • Richard Podpirka

Study Abroad student

Certificate of Proficiency Arts

Richard has thrown himself into New Zealand life during his Study Abroad semester at UC, from playing rugby union to becoming a foodie, as well as studying courses that will count towards his degree back in the USA. 'This country is truly an amazing place. The standard of living and quality of life surpasses that in the States,' he says.

Back in New York at Fordham University, Richard is majoring in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Marketing. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs and says he is inspired by the work-life balance his parents have achieved, and wants to be in business himself.

'They have been there for me when I needed them most and never missed a soccer game or ice hockey match because of work. I want to be there for my children the way my parents are for me. I wanted to study business management and entrepreneurship because I'm a "people person" through and through, and as an entrepreneur I need to know all aspects of business.'

Richard's semester at UC has blended neatly with his commerce studies in the States, while adding a new perspective which ties in with his interest in sustainability and the great outdoors.

'As an entrepreneurship student, I love seeing the potential that Christchurch has — after being hit by the earthquakes there is a strong need for business growth. Furthermore, I like the sustainable, social and innovative nature of Kiwi entrepreneurs. New Zealanders truly have a strong passion for the sustainability of the Earth.'

'I love the laid back nature of the teaching at UC, which is a pleasant surprise. All the teachers are down to earth and love interacting with international students. I love the idea of tutorials, where teachers get a more personal interaction with students.'

Richard says he chose New Zealand for his overseas experience because he wanted to see the landscapes and play rugby.

'I wanted to travel to a place I knew I would not be back for a while — which turned out to be a lie, as I will be back!

'There was also the opportunity to learn rugby at a higher level. New Zealand is a country where rugby is a religion. The kiwi style has beauty and elegance, with continuous ball and quick rucks. As a newcomer to the sport, playing for UC has been an amazing opportunity and learning experience. The athletes are extremely disciplined and in-shape. The hard-fought matches, the countless hours of training, and the laughs are the real reasons everyone here lives and breathes the sport.'

A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Richard has bungee jumped the Auckland Bridge, sky dived over Wanaka and dived in a shark cage off Stewart Island during his five months here.

'I have done four Great Walks, ice climbed Fox Glacier, and mountain biked around the South Island, plus I've done my share of kayaking, surfing and white water rafting.'

He jokes: 'Nothing in New Zealand can kill you but you! This has totally been true of my tramping. I've made so many mistakes - forgetting gas, not bringing enough clothes, forgetting dry sacks, you name it. But it was during these idiotic times that I made some of the fondest memories.'

'Travelling lets you experience new things and new thoughts, so you should keep moving and seeing and doing — and feeling. I think it is crucial to join clubs and integrate with New Zealanders. It is a little bit of a culture shock, but step outside your comfort zone and forge some strong relationships. It is great to have friends from all over the world. I have had a blast.'

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