‘Explore whatever unknown is calling you’


Jason Natale, at right, appreciated the bonds and friendships he developed during his semester abroad in Auckland.

Jason Natale was tired of the Rochester routine and ready to see what a new environment could do for him.

A lot, it turns out.

The dual computer science and business major was awed by the natural beauty he witnessed during the semester he spent at Auckland, New Zealand in spring 2017.

“Seeing the Milky Way and night sky in perfect clarity was something that completely stunned me,” Natale says. “That really set the tone for the natural beauty I'd witness over the next four months. Another weekend a group of us were camping at the Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel region. The serenity I felt being so far from civilization, with just a bonfire and some good friends, was amazing.”

He also gained “a massive amount of perspective on what it means to live in the United States and the culture that has developed here. Even more important than that though, the experience of living on a Pacific Island and being immersed in the unique history from that part of the world gave me a new appreciation for the common fundamental traits we all share as members of the human race.”

And all four of the classes he took will help satisfy the requirements for his dual degrees.

Arranging his study abroad experience was “pretty streamlined,” Natale says. He worked with University of Rochester Center for Education Abroad counselors, his major advisers, and his exchange program adviser. “I was never more than a meeting or phone call away from getting the information I needed.”

Within a week of arriving in Auckland, Natale set out on a 5-day camping trip with a group of students he had just met. “We had no plan, no tent, and extremely limited experience ‘roughing it.’”

“There's no way we could've fathomed the natural beauty we would witness, the bonds and friendships we'd develop, and the little nuances we'd learn about ourselves along the way. My advice to anyone considering study abroad would be to do it. Dive in and explore whatever unknown is calling you.”


Within a week of arriving in Auckland, Natale was ‘roughing it’ with newfound friends, setting the stage for the outdoor adventures he would experience during the next four months.