PackAbroad Ambassador: Mackenzie Elmore

Hi! My name is Mackenzie Elmore and I am currently a senior at NC State majoring in Biology with a minor in Psychology. I have always wanted to travel the world and after hearing about all my opportunities to study abroad, I knew I had to take advantage of this once in a lifetime chance… 

However, doing so was not as easy as I expected. I had not only a ton of programs to choose from but also a variety of factors to consider. When I began looking into the process, I started by narrowing down the options that would best suit my major. Then, I looked to see if program costs would affect my ability to attend. To my surprise, many of them happened to be less expensive than a regular semester here in North Carolina. Finally, there were only two questions that would influence my decision: Where is a place that I would never get to explore unless I took this opportunity? And where will I be able to fully immerse myself into the culture? 

The first was important to me because I plan to travel to Europe at some point but I never expected to vacation anywhere in Africa. Then, question 2 made me realize that I wanted to be in a place where I could feel like I became a local and I knew that if I chose a program in Europe I would take the opportunity to see a variety of places whenever I had a chance. 

After taking these factors into consideration, I chose a program in Stellenbosch, South Africa. There I was able to volunteer at local schools, take amazing field trips, and fully become part of the community. I was one out of the two students that decided to go abroad there that semester, and while that was daunting it forced me to befriend individuals from South Africa as well as exchange students from all over the world. Instead of staying in a bubble, I branched out of my comfort zone and was able to make friends that will last a lifetime.

My advice to anyone thinking of taking the opportunity of a lifetime to study abroad is to figure out your personal goals for your education, experience, and personal growth. And just maybe you will fall in love with a place that you never would have considered before.