Alumni Spotlight: Monica Prario


Monica is constantly searching for new challenges, adventures, places to explore, and people to meet.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it gave me the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend four months studying and interning all the way on the other side of the world. I was attracted to the diverse landscapes and culture of New Zealand and was excited to experience life in a place that is the epitome of adventure.

What did your university assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Boston University assisted with housing, course registration, visa applications, and flights. They also helped set up internships and arranged interviews for students participating in the internship program.

Once in Auckland, staff helped us find our way around and get to know others in the program through tours and numerous group activities. The program directors are always available and happy to help with any problems students may encounter.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Whenever someone invites you to do something or go somewhere, say yes. You only have a few months there, so it's important to make the most of each and every day and take advantage of all opportunities New Zealand has to offer.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I am enrolled in the required New Zealand culture class, as well as biochemistry and statistics. I also have an internship at a stroke research laboratory, where I work with my supervisor and Ph.D. students to find ways to improve post-stroke treatment.

When I'm not working, I explore the many places Auckland has to offer, whether it is new cafes, farmer's markets, or various pop-up events. There is a ferry right by our apartment that can be easily taken to Devonport, Rangitoto Island, and Waiheke Island, where I have gone to explore and hike. You can walk to places like the Auckland Domain, which houses gorgeous nature, museums, and trails.

The University of Auckland has many clubs to offer, and the students are extremely inviting. I joined the tramping club and kitesurfing club, despite my complete inexperience, and they each hold several events a month.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had only left the United States once before going abroad, and I was nervous about picking up and moving to the other side of the world on my own. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to find my way around or wouldn't make new friends.

Once I arrived, I found that it wasn't as scary or difficult as I had made myself believe. I am able to walk most places, and public transportation such as buses and trains are very easy to use. The other people in my program were incredibly friendly and open to meeting new people. I realized that everyone was in the same boat as me, and were just as eager to meet new friends. I met people of all different backgrounds and was interested to hear all of their stories and more about their lives.

I also found it easy to meet locals and other students outside of my program. Meeting new people to share my experiences with was a crucial part of the study abroad experience, where everything is new and exciting.

What is your favorite part about your experience?

New Zealand has so much to offer, and everyone else in the program was just as eager as me to take full advantage of our short time in Auckland.

I was able to explore some of the most beautiful places in the world with the greatest company I could have. There was always something going on, and I never felt like my time in Auckland was being wasted.

Our program had a Facebook group where people would constantly be posting and extending invitations to everyone for things such as day trips, concerts, rugby games, and art shows. People would go out of their comfort zones by taking on new hikes or even going skydiving or bungee jumping. I loved our spontaneous outings, such as going to see the glow worms at the Domain or to catch the sunset on top of Mount Eden.