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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Rapheal in Auckland, New Zealand

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Rapheal Mathis ’17, a Communication and African American Studies major currently studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand.

College is a time to find out what you want to do with your life, studying abroad is a time where you figure out the person that you are. During my time here in New Zealand I have done just that. The University of Auckland has an extremely diverse community that has broadened my world view even more. While being abroad I have had the opportunity to travel, learn about a different culture, and continue to cultivate my spoken word poetry. These months in a different country have been life changing, my outlook on life is different, I am more secure in my identity, and I see the world around me through a new lens. Living in Auckland has shown me what I can do better back home. Being in Auckland has taught me to cherish every opportunity presented to me. The learning style is different, but it has taught me to be a more proactive student and I will return to Lake Forest with an improved way to tackle my studies.

I have always lived by the philosophy that we are shaped by our experiences. This experience has shaped me in way I can not quite articulate with words. I am a different person because of my time abroad. I would encourage anyone to do it. Don’t allow the fear of being away from family, or the cost of such a venture to detour you. Yes there are times you miss home, but family and friends will be there when you return. There are also scholarships given through some of the programs to help offset the cost. I am personally thankful for the scholarship I received from the New Zealand Program because without it I would not be here. The moments of self reflection, and the times of realization I have had will never be forgotten. The great thing about going abroad is that you get to make your own experience. What you get out is what you put in. Put in the time to go abroad, and I promise you what you get out of it will be priceless.