A transformative semester in Mexico
26 September 2019
Lauren Wilks made the life-changing decision to study abroad for a semester, leaving the University of Auckland for Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico, one of our Universitas 21 partners. Learn how Lauren's experience helped her feel ready to take on the future.
"In January of 2018, I embarked on an adventure, one where I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but full of anticipation for the months ahead. As part of my Bachelor of Commerce degree through the University of Auckland, I chose to participate in a semester exchange programme where I got to study at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico. I chose to study in Mexico because I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that is so different from New Zealand to maximise the learning opportunity of studying abroad, both inside and out of the classroom.
A few of my highlights included the twice-weekly salsa classes at Tec, learning Spanish and being able to converse with locals, and exploring Mexico and beyond which taught me even more about Latin American culture. Studying abroad allows you to meet people from all over the world and really develops your global networks, both academically and socially.
Studying abroad shows independence, adaptability and culture awareness, all of which are characteristics sought by employers but are best learnt beyond the traditional classroom setting.
"In applying for graduate roles upon my return to New Zealand, my experience studying abroad demonstrated to potential employers the diverse range of skills I had developed. Studying abroad shows independence, adaptability and culture awareness, all of which are characteristics sought by employers but are best learnt beyond the traditional classroom setting. Furthermore, living in a country such as Mexico reflected my eagerness to step out of my comfort zone in order to learn about other people and places, to refine my own skills but also gain an understanding of how I can contribute to a better world.
I was fortunate enough to be supported by the Prime Minister's Scholarship for Latin America (PMSLA), a New Zealand government funded scholarship to recognise individuals who will best represent the New Zealand education system, demonstrate the potential to succeed in strengthening New Zealand’s relationships with Latin American partners and improve the international skills of the New Zealand workforce.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had throughout my university studies, and strongly believe that my exchange and the opportunity to study at two Universitas 21 universities enhanced both my employability and personal development. My exchange has inspired me to continue learning about new cultures, to study or work abroad again in the future, and it proved that I am certainly capable of doing so."
Universitas 21 (U21) is the leading global network of research-intensive universities, working together to foster global citizenship and institutional innovation through research-inspired teaching and learning, student mobility, connecting our students and staff, and wider advocacy for internationalisation.
This article originally appeared on the U21 website and is reproduced with permission.