Alumni Spotlight: Carolina Auerbach


Carolina is a high school senior in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is interested in possibly studying Environmental Science or Marine Biology in college, and in her free time, she enjoys surfing and hiking with friends.

Why did you choose this program?

Over the past year or so I have been challenging myself to push my limits and face my fears and had so many friends recommend Rustic Pathways to me, so I decided to try it out. Ultimately I knew I wanted to do an adrenaline packed trip that would allow me to disconnect from the internet and really connect with the people around me, so I decided to pick a trip diving on the Great Barrier Reef for two weeks.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Rustic Pathways was incredibly helpful with providing extensive packing lists and checklists including all of the necessary components for my travels. This helped me get all of my documents and packing in order without any hassle. They also provided leaders at all of the airports we traveled to, who helped us navigate our way around and not get lost. I had to book my connecting flight to get to LAX where our group was meeting, but other than that, Rustic Pathways provided assistance with almost every other aspect of our travels.

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

Live in the moment. It's cliché, but it is true; there will be some opportunities during the trip to use your phone, but make an effort to disconnect and engage with the beautiful world around you. Two weeks seems like a long time, but it will fly by and you should make sure to take advantage of the amazing opportunities being presented to you.

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

Our schedule during this trip tended to switch day today, but for the majority of the trip, we were on a liveaboard diving up to five times a day!

We would wake up super early to catch our first sunrise dive which would have us going under before the sun had risen, and resurfacing during sunrise. We had three more dives throughout the day and then finished off with a night dive using torches to see.

In between our dives, we would whale-watch, play cards, have impromptu dance parties on the deck, and most importantly, eat delicious meals to help fuel us.

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 went into this trip with a few main fears: sharks, heights, the dark, and being deep underwater. Obviously, these seem like a terrible combination for a diving trip but I was surrounded by the most supportive and amazing leaders and friends on this trip. They all helped me to overcome my fears and come home with a newfound appreciation for the ocean and all of its amazing creatures.

If you could do this trip again, what would you change?

If I were to have done anything differently during my trip, I definitely would have packed less.

I wore basically the same two bathing suits every day and opted for comfy clothing most of the time. Since we moved around locations quite a bit, it was definitely hard to relocate with a massive duffle especially coming home with all of my new goodies.