My name is Keriana Ruru. In Semester 1, 2014 I went on an exchange to the University of North Carolina (UNC) in the USA. I was lucky enough to receive one of the Alumni in America Scholarships. I was extremely grateful for this help in funding my exchange and so I want to say thank you to the Alumni for their generosity. I thoroughly enjoyed my exchange and the opportunities it presented to me to study in different environments and to see another part of the world. Academically, I found classes quite different in the USA compared to NZ with much smaller class sizes and different assessment styles. I took classes in Economics and Physical Geography whilst at UNC. As part of my Geography class in Hydrology I got the opportunity to go away on a field camp to the Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
I think I have benefited greatly from my experience on exchange and going overseas. It has helped to enhance my understanding of the world through getting to interact with a slightly different culture from our own in NZ and also through meeting other fellow exchange students who were at UNC and hearing stories from their home countries across the world. Travelling around the USA, my eyes were opened to extreme ends of the social scale as I saw a lot more poverty then I expected in parts of the country.
Academically, my exchange has helped me to look at the way I study and what I am studying from a different perspective. Personally, I was benefitted by my exchange as it has helped me become a more confident person. From having to make new friends to talking to people who could not understand what I was saying simply because of my accent to the experiences I had and lessons I learnt through travelling, it all helped me to grow as a person in some way or another.