Office of Study Abroad

Profile: Julia Matson '19

Julia Matson in New Zealand

Majors: Biology, Anthropology

Study Abroad Program: Boston University Auckland, New Zealand

Current Job: Physician Assistant Student at Bryant University

Why did you originally choose to study abroad in New Zealand? I originally chose to study abroad because I was excited at the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time exploring a different part of the world so that I may see how another country and culture live and thoroughly explore. I chose this program because I would be able to acquire credits toward my major and have an internship relevant to my future career goals. Through the administrators of the program, I was able to intern at Auckland City Hospital assisting with research on how anesthesia affects the circadian rhythm. New Zealand itself intrigued me more than any other location because of the plentiful opportunity for outdoor adventures.

What have you been up to since graduation? Since graduating, I first took a fun job bartending on charter boats in Boston harbor to save up money for a month long backpacking trip through Europe. Following that trip, I began to focus on developing my career by working as a medical assistant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I worked there for two years, eventually earning a promotion to lead medical assistant. During the peak of the pandemic, I had the opportunity to work at multiple different COVID-19 testing sites in underserved neighborhoods in Boston. I was able to cultivate a love for clinical care and a desire to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant so I may continue to provide care to underserved populations.

What lessons or skills did you learn from studying abroad that you still think about today or still impact you today on your current path? My time in New Zealand gave me a new level of anthropological understanding of the breakdown of race in a population and how that interplays with the effectiveness and outreach of the healthcare systems in that community. I was able to take courses on the history between the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand and the white settlers. I saw evidence of this history during my internship at Auckland City Hospital and had the opportunity to continue to explore this topic in my assignments and research papers at the conclusion of my internship. I brought these new perspectives back to Boston when providing care to patients of an underserved population.

One memory from abroad that still feels like it happened yesterday: It’s so hard to pick just one! Exploring the small town of Wanaka on the south island was an excursion I will always cherish. My friends and I woke up for a beautiful sunrise, hiked the extremely difficult yet beautiful Roy’s Peak trail, frolicked around a lavender farm, and rewarded ourselves with some delicious food from a food truck event.

Your message to students thinking about studying abroad: Just do it! It may feel difficult to pull off but it is completely worth it. Not only can it enhance your academics and resume, but you’ll make friendships and experiences that you’ll always remember and hold dear.

“New Zealand itself intrigued me more than any other location because of the plentiful opportunity for outdoor adventures.”

Julia Matson '19