'A life-changing experience'

erik rock climbing

 Erik Patak of biomedical engineering says he learned the value of doing spontaneous things during his study abroad semester in New Zealand, like spending a week rock climbing at Hangdog crag.

Erik Patak '19, a biomedical engineering major, wanted to study abroad to get out of his comfort zone and the closeness of campus. He worked with Taimi Marple (the BME undergraduate coordinator) and his IES advisor to take part in the IES Abroad Auckland program.

It was worth it to go abroad as an engineering student, he says, even if he had to work hard to make sure he was meeting degree requirements and getting credit transfers. While he did not receive the study abroad scholarships he applied for, he still decided to pursue the experience.

 At the University of Auckland, Erik was able to take 2 classes for his major, one class for a cluster, and one additional humanities course for his major requirements.

He says he gained “so, so, so much” from his study abroad experience, including a different perspective of university education and new friends. He went backpacking for two months after the semester, meeting new people and happening upon great experiences by chance. For example, he says, “I met someone on the summit of a mountain, and we ended up hitchhiking all the way across New Zealand together!”

Erik learned to value the importance of talking to random people and doing spontaneous things. During a backpacking trip, he ended up spending one week just rock climbing at a climbing crag called Hangdog. Another time, he ran into a close friend from Auckland unexpectedly in a small town and they got to spend a few days together.

 His advice for other students wanting to study abroad: “Do it! Get the administrative stuff out of the way and go. It is a life changing experience. Be spontaneous! Always say yes to any opportunity (within reason of course)!”

erik in the mountainsStudy abroad? "Do it!" says Erik Patak.