Studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Media and Communication, with a Minor in English, and a Bachelor of Laws
A strong interest in American culture has meant that a highlight of Rachael’s university experience so far is a year-long trip to the US as part of UC’s Study Abroad programme.
‘The prospect of travelling, where I could meet new people and experience new cultures excited me, and I knew the experience would supplement my studies which had focused a lot on American media and politics. Looking back, it was everything I had hoped for and more!’ she says.
Rachael was based at the University of California Berkeley, where she studied papers ranging from American Politics to Third World Modernisation and Queer Study of Film.
‘My courses at UC Berkeley were mind-blowing!’ she says. ‘I feel so lucky to have studied these things from an American point of view.’
Rachael believes there are many advantages to be gained from studying abroad for a full year. In between semesters she was able to go backpacking for three months, doing everything from climbing the Empire State Building in New York to bull riding on a Texas ranch.
She says another benefit is the way friends and contacts can be more firmly established. In her case this led to an exciting opportunity to work on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
‘With the help of people I met at UC Berkeley, I was selected to take part in a study programme which involved securing an internship and writing a substantial research paper on the topic of our choice. I was lucky enough to be accepted to work in the office of California Senator Barbara Boxer and I wrote a legislative proposal that focused on increasing the number of women in federal government.
‘Interning on the Hill was an amazing experience! We lived three blocks from the White House and took classes at night while we worked during the day. One day I would be photocopying receipts, the next I was drafting a letter to the interim prime minister of Libya! I worked alongside some of the most influential people in American politics, lived in a vibrant city and was constantly blessed with opportunities that, if it wasn’t for my exchange, I never would have been given.’
Now back at UC to complete her studies, Rachael says that Christchurch has a lot of opportunities for students outside study itself. She has landed another internship, this time at GlassTower, a media and communications company, and is involved in numerous activities in her spare time.
‘UC has an awesome student scene that revolves around societies, something very unique and special to Canterbury. I love the campus, but Christchurch city is also such a wonderful place to be a part of, especially now, when the sense of community is beautifully overwhelming and people’s interest in the future of our city is genuine and productive.’