Name: Brett DeHekker
Program: UMSL exchange at Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand
Major: Business Administration - Management
Term Abroad: Spring semester during senior
I traveled abroad with the intention to just complete a semester outside my comfort zone. It was beyond what I could have imagined: The beauty of New Zealand, its landscape, beaches, and mountains made for great hiking experiences and amazing views. The proximity of nearby places such as the wonderful Islands of Fiji, where I spent a week lounging around and relaxing with the Fijians on “Island Time” (don’t worry, I did do some studying). The activities and adrenaline rushes such as bungee jumping and skydiving were available everywhere. And the nightlife in the cities of Auckland and Wellington provided plenty of good times with the most important part of my time abroad: New friends.
I met people from all over the world, from Southeast Asia, through Europe, around our neighboring countries from the Americas, all the way around the New Zealand again. What I quickly learned was that most of the international students were in the same position I was: In a foreign country, by myself. So it became very easy to make friends. Also, I stayed in the first-year dorms where all the Kiwis (New Zealanders) would quickly pickup m accent and ask me where in The States I came from. Just about every time I had to explain where St. Louis was, I just asked them if they knew who Nelly was. Worked like a charm.
AUT is located in the middle of Auckland, making it very easy to quickly explore and get to know the city. The staff at the university is wonderful and was very supportive throughout the semester. I stayed at WSA, which were basically the freshman dorms, where I was surrounded by Kiwis and my fellow international students, making it even easier to make friends and see them on a daily basis.
Overall my experience was wonderful and eye opening as I learned about the rest of the world’s residents and also all about my own country and myself. I would encourage any student to at least consider going abroad as it is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that will pass quickly.