Grayce has always had a passion for traveling and hopes to find a job that always her to travel the world.
Why did you choose this program?
My home university always has reps from different programs set up booths in our commons and I always knew I wanted to study abroad, so I always stopped at them. The rep from TEAN was so engaged in our conversation and wanted to help me make a choice of school and country best suited for my program of study right then and there. Most other programs just handed me a big book of what they offer and never really got personal with me, so I knew I had to go with TEAN.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
TEAN has a step by step pre-departure process on their website and my program advisor walked me through every step. I never had to hesitate to email her and ask questions because I knew she always had an answer for me.
My university study abroad advisor helped me get classes approved for my experience abroad and made sure the school was corresponding with TEAN for financial information. She didn't have much experience with TEAN, but always checked up to make sure they were helping me with everything I needed.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Don't worry about money. Worrying about money was what stopped me from doing many of the things I wanted to do. The months you're there will fly by and be gone before you know it. You have your whole life to worry about money, now is the time to live, have fun, and experience new things. You'll only regret it if you don't.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
For me, I was taking classes that were actually for my major so I spent most of the weekdays going to class and working on assignments. But, I was still able to have fun; most of my lectures were recorded and put up online so if I did want to take a long weekend to go somewhere it was easy to catch up on school work. Although I still had time, I advise if its possible to take gen-eds while abroad then do it!
Being in Auckland, there is always something to do because it is a big city. It takes less than 30 minutes to drive to either coast and enjoy some beach time, so that is exactly what we did at the beginning of the semester! TEAN also provides quite a few excursions throughout the semester. For example, we did a tour of the city, a culture session at the museum, coffee catch-ups, a hiking trip to Rangitoto Summit, and a Rugby game! There's just so much to do in a country like New Zealand, you are never bored.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
One of my biggest fears was independence. Living completely on my own in a culture different from mine, knowing no one at all scared the crap out of me. The week before I left I was freaking out, but as soon as I met some people from my program I felt at ease. New Zealand is such a diverse country that I felt like I fit right in and didn't feel scared anymore. The people are also so so kind, so I felt comfortable asking people questions. I met a group of 5 girls from America and I have met so many Kiwis in my classes that have all become good friends. I decided to put myself out there and I haven't felt alone here since.
Does studying abroad really change your life?
Yes, yes, yes! I have gained so many qualities I didn't have before I studied abroad. Before leaving, I was this 19-year-old girl who was so self-conscious and always worried about what other people thought about me. I had had the worst year of my life before leaving and I was in such a bad place. I had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and dealing with chronic migraines. After a month in New Zealand, the migraines were very very minimal and were usually just a result of stress. Traveling has always made me so happy, but this experience brought me out of my slump and I am now happier than ever.
I have had friend after friend comment about how genuinely happy I look. I didn't have to deal with drama or people from my past for a whole 6 months. I gained independence that I never thought I would have, and I just do me. I don't care if people are judging me, I do what I want and wear what I want now. I started learning how to love myself during my experience abroad, and I could not be any more grateful for that experience.