Zachary Jenkins in Sydney
"Pushing myself beyond what I ever thought I could do"
Above: In addition to taking four engineering courses, Zachary Jenkins enjoyed this face-to-face encounter with sharks and other marine life at the Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary when he studied abroad during the Fall 2014 semester in Sydney, Australia.
Zachary Jenkins ’16 of BME readily acknowledges he’s terrified of heights.
But he learned something very important about that during his study abroad experience at the University of Sydney in Australia during the Fall 2014 semester:
He can overcome that fear.
One of his most memorable experiences was climbing to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, 463 feet above the water – wearing a mandatory safety harness and navigating narrow walkways during a breathtaking ascent of about two hours duration. (Click here for more about BridgeClimb.)
“We got a magnificent view of the city, just as the sun was setting behind the Sydney Opera house,” he recalled. “It was a real bird’s eye view. You’re not in a plane; you’re really out there. It was an incredible experience -- pushing myself beyond what I ever thought I could do.”
Jenkins did more than climb bridges in Australia. He took four engineering courses, two of them satisfying requirements for his biomedical engineering degree, the other two satisfying requirements for his minor in chemical engineering.
So much for the argument that engineering students can’t study abroad without falling behind. “If anything I’m ahead because in addition to keeping up with my classes, I’ve gained this experience and awareness that you can only get from being abroad,” Jenkins said.
A big part of the study abroad experience is learning to live on your own – and to make your own decisions, he added. “Every choice you make you really feel like it is your own decision. It definitely helped me feel more confident. I was cooking my own meals; choosing what I wanted to do. Because these were my decisions, when I did something and enjoyed it, there was the added satisfaction of knowing you had succeeded. It wasn’t someone else’s success but almost entirely your own.”
Jenkins is grateful for the help he received in planning his trip from Rohan Palma, the Hajim School’s study abroad advisor, who assisted him with engineering-related preparations, and the University’s Study Abroad office, which assisted with living arrangements and advice on getting acclimated -- and kept in contact with him once he was overseas.
Once he identified the Sydney courses that could satisfy requirements here, the rest of the preparations “just became a piece of cake,” he said.
“I think the biggest thing I would want for Hajim students is to let them know they can study abroad,” Jenkins said. “If someone says you can’t, they’re wrong.”