Alumni Spotlight: Emily Manasian

Emily is currently a Junior at Miami University of Ohio studying Psychology and Neuroscience. She studied abroad in Auckland, New Zealand and hopes to keep exploring by doing graduate school abroad!

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Why did you choose this program?

I chose Auckland mainly because of the excitement of the unknown. Before this, I had never been so far away for such a long period of time. The farthest time zone I had been was three hours ahead, and so I decided to jump into an 18 hour change.

I have lived in a small town my entire life and New Zealand was the perfect way to open up and jump (quite possibly fall) out of my comfort zone. If beautiful nature isn't enough, I was lucky to find a program that fits my needs. The University of Auckland gave me so many course options that fit requirements for my home university. This was really important in deciding where to go and, fortunately, it worked out well.

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

Both my university and IES Abroad were very helpful throughout the application process. I had started looking for programs close to the deadlines, so my university was very useful in giving me the best options for the classes I needed, as well as programs that fit my skills and needs.

Once I was accepted to the program, I had many, many questions for my IES Abroad advisor. Mainly about the process. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right to keep all of my forms and deadlines in check. The websites were very helpful in showing these deadlines as well. I did much of the application process myself because it was pretty step-by-step.

There was not much I had to do outside of filling out forms and sending in my deposit. Much of the trip was planned for me.

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

It is definitely a good idea to start early! I started very late, and there were times where the process felt very rushed. Don't be afraid to start searching way ahead of when you actually plan to go abroad. You'll feel a lot better knowing you have more time to sort things out.

I definitely do not regret my choice to go to Auckland. It was an amazing experience. But applying and paying for the deposit was more rushed than I would have liked it to be.

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

New Zealand universities are very similar to U.S. universities. I went to class during the week and did homework and studied as I would back home. After classes, I would often do things with my friends from the program as well as the friends I made while there. We would do simple things like go to the local grocery store and cook together, and we would study in the common area of the flat they lived in. But we would also spend a lot of time planning weekend trips.

I went on trips almost every weekend. We explored a lot of the country!

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

A lot of the time, when I tell people I went abroad alone, the first thing they ask is, "Were you terrified?" The more I think about it, the more I realized that I really wasn't that scared. I was too excited about the idea of going somewhere brand new with brand new people; going to a school that wasn't surrounded by cornfields. I was a little worried about meeting everyone in my program because the first weekend we all go to an island and stay together. I've never been much of an outgoing person, but I was welcomed so quickly by everyone.

Before I got there, I told myself I just gotta go for it. Now or never. And I would say it worked out pretty well. I have a lovely group of friends with all different kinds of stories. I learnt there's so much out there if I just go for it.

Is there any other advice for prospective travelers?

At my home university, there is not much to do. It's much too small for a crazy amount of adventure. Because of that, I don't often get to try new things or go to new places. Going abroad was the first jump in the right direction. I did so much that I had never done before: backpacking, sand surfing, Kapa Haka (pretty cool, check it out if you can), husking a coconut, zorbing (also really cool, highly recommend), and so many more activities that I didn't even know existed.

It is very cheesy to say but try as much as you can. If you even consider it for even a second, do it. You'll find things you love and have some pretty great stories.