Take it from me: Study abroad

kiara_study-abroadChoosing the University of North Florida was one of the smartest choices I have made in my short lifespan and I am proud to be an Osprey. One of many reasons why I chose to study at UNF was because of all the opportunities available. I knew going in I wanted to travel. It has always been a dream of mine to see the world and learn about different cultures, experience new adventures and immerse myself in new languages. When I heard about the study abroad programs for business majors I knew I was going to use this resource to my advantage. I went into my freshman year with three goals: start networking and building relationships, get straight A’s in all my classes, and study abroad. Starting college was a new chapter in my life; I had never traveled abroad by myself but now I’ve lived in New Zealand. I had always been shy and introverted but now I am a First-Year Mentor for incoming freshman and consider myself a leader.

Getting the ball rolling for New Zealand was a process. At first, I wanted to study abroad in Scotland because of the beautiful landscape and history. I started telling everyone I met including professors that I was going to study abroad in Scotland. One conversation stuck with me. I was asked, “Why Scotland? What does it offer you in terms of your major? New Zealand has a great accounting program.” I began to start thinking about long-term goals and where I see myself. I knew every step I took was to help me progress and be successful in my accounting major. I decided New Zealand would help guide me on the right path and I ended up going Spring 2016 during my sophomore year.

I remember the excitement I felt when I got my acceptance letter from Auckland University of Technology. It was finally happening, but it still felt surreal. I originally wanted to stay for two semesters but eventually only did one because it was new territory for me and I wanted to give myself some leeway in case I got homesick. Oddly enough I did not get homesick. I was able to Skype and FaceTime my parents and keeping a journal and writing down my thoughts of what happened each day in New Zealand was comforting. I made sure to stay active by joining the running club. I surrounded myself with new friends and explored the country as often as I could. Exploring New Zealand made me love it even more. Sharing those precious moments with friends made me feel as if I had a second home. I left New Zealand in a peaceful state of mind. I had seen and done things I would not have done here. I loved every moment and cherished every second. I still pinch myself and ask, “Did I really go to New Zealand?” I made friends that I will hold near and see again when I go back to New Zealand. It became my second home in the four months I was there. Going to New Zealand created a bigger fire for traveling. I plan on doing at least one more study abroad program while in college. Once I graduate I know I won’t stay stagnate. I want to backpack across Europe and do a road trip across America and see all 50 states. I want to keep growing; mentally, physically, and actively.

I will always be grateful to UNF for allowing me the opportunity to travel abroad and add more fuel to my traveling bug. Studying abroad was a memorable experience that will last a lifetime. I recommend that everyone does at least one study abroad program while in college. I’ll end with one of my go-to quotes, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

-Kiara PiJuan
UNF, Accounting Majorkiara_study-abroad_2

Q & A with Kiara PiJuan

  • Did you have to apply to the school you studied at in New Zealand?

Yes, I had to apply for the school I studied at while in New Zealand but since it was through a UNF semester abroad program my advisor helped send out the application. 

  • How many courses did you take during the semester?

I took four courses during the semester. 

  • How did you coordinate where to live?

I was given the choice to live on campus or find other living agreements through the semester abroad program. I choose to live on campus in one of their dormitory areas.

  • How often were you able to travel and sightsee?

I went sightseeing every day and I traveled at least every other weekend. 

  • Were you able to receive any financial aid or scholarships for study abroad?

I was able to receive financial aid through the University of North Florida. 

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