'I knew it would give me the kind of experience that I would talk about for the rest of my life...'
Study Abroad student
Certificate of Proficiency Science
Choosing a destination for studying abroad was an easy decision for Lauren.
'I chose New Zealand because I knew that it would give me the kind of experience that I would talk about for the rest of my life. I wanted to go somewhere where I could disconnect and simply learn to appreciate what's around me. With New Zealand's absolutely stunning scenery and constant opportunities to be outside exploring, this wasn't a challenge at all.'
Indeed, Lauren's favourite experiences while studying at UC was the opportunities that came with joining student clubs to travel the country.
'There's always a variety of things going on, from tramping expeditions to casual barbecues to upscale balls. All the clubs are also extremely inclusive in the sense that you can join anything that interests you, no matter who you are or what experience you have,' she says.
She recalls her most stand out experiences involving a volunteer tramping trip and white water rafting for the first time.
'At the very start of the semester, I was able to take part in the SVA's overnight trip up to the Marlborough Sounds. We made the journey up there in order to help build a walking track to help bring people in the area together. It was a great experience. Not only were over 100 of us able to work together so easily, we were able to have a significant impact on several communities.
'But the best decision I made this semester was getting involved with UCCC, the white water kayaking club here at UC. I went into the first kayaking trip not knowing what I was getting myself into, but I'm so glad that I did. UCCC allowed me to meet some of the funniest and most helpful people around, while learning a challenging and exciting new sport in the process. Everything about the trips, from kayaking down insane rapids to the banter around the campfire, was absolutely fantastic.'
Lauren does emphasise to 'explore Christchurch' as well, as 'it's easy to get swept up in the beauty of New Zealand and travel with other exchange students every weekend, but try not to,' as there are also opportunities in the immediate area to try out with the locals.
As for her studies, Lauren took a mixture of courses, including Chemistry, Sport Coaching and Philosophy, to contribute towards her Chemistry studies back at the University of Rochester in New York, USA.
With a specific interest in food chemistry, Lauren was also able to take the ARTS 295 internship course with the Food Resilience Network. 'It was the perfect opportunity for me to have a positive impact on the community while learning a lot about the culture here. I also learned a lot about what it means to work out in the real world compared to working in a university setting,' she says. 'I love the emphasis lecturers put on learning practical skills here. You learn not only the theory behind how things work, but what that means for you in the future.'
With all of her combined experiences, Lauren is ultimately taking more back home than just her course credits for her degree.
'I knew that I wanted to go somewhere that would allow me to learn outside of the classroom and UC gave me the perfect opportunity to do that,' she says. 'Studying here has given me a new perspective on how school fits into everything else in life. I've learned that you have to focus on what you find meaningful, whether that be dedicating yourself to an interesting class or diving into an opportunity outside of the classroom.'