Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

All about me

Hello everyone,

I am Aaron Rowbotham; I am from Victorville California (the desert). I am a Geology and Anthropology student at the University of Alaska Anchorage, UAA.

So, why to go to college in Alaska of all places? To be honest it started out as a joke to scare my mother and grandparents (it worked). I applied and was accepted to multiple universities in California, Utah, Ohio, and Alaska. I wasn’t originally going to apply to Alaska, nor was I even thinking about it, then I asked a friend what his favorite place in the world was, and he said Alaska. You can guess what happened after that. Being accepted to UAA, I originally wasn’t looking at it until I Financial aid reports were coming out and UAA had the best report and I looked into it more. When I switched my major over from Sociology to Geology I realized that of all the Universities that I applied to, there was no school better for geology then UAA, especially since it is in Alaska, a place that can be argued as the most complex geological system in the world. So in the end I chose to go to school in Alaska.

Getting ready to leave for New Zealand vs. leaving for Alaska has started to seem the same, except the miles of extra paperwork, and people more accepting of New Zealand. When I was preparing to leave for Alaska, people were telling me how crazy I was and I started hearing all of those Alaska stereotype jokes. Now, getting ready to leave for New Zealand people are telling me how amazing New Zealand will be and wanting me to go the Lord of the Rings sites.

However, when I left for Alaska my situation was different. I was ready to leave. But, this summer my grandfather who basically raised me as his son died and it’s still hard on my family. My mother’s memory problems have gotten worse, plus other health problems. But there are also the financial problems with only a few scholarships and lots of large loans to fund this study abroad trip to New Zealand.

I guess these problems are what come with being a first generation college student. Being a first generation college student I’ve had to learn the college system myself through trial and error. I’ve had to find ways to lessen the amount of debt I will have when I graduate. My family couldn’t help me much with understanding the complex college applications, financial aid, grading, and resources available. I had to find those who know how to navigate these systems.

But through all the hard times and trying to figure everything out I can’t believe I’m finally going to New Zealand. I’ve been dreaming about going on this study abroad trip to New Zealand since I learned about study abroad at orientation and have been bugging Leslie Touvinen, my study abroad advisor at UAA, for 3 years. It’s not only her that helped me if it wasn’t for the advisors at IFSA-Butler Chris Dixon, David Watkins, and Anne Frey; I wouldn’t be going to New Zealand on February 10th.


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