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News and Publications > SMC Connect News > Exploring the Wild West: Third Generation Old Girl Henrietta Bullen on study and adventure in the US

Exploring the Wild West: Third Generation Old Girl Henrietta Bullen on study and adventure in the US

Embracing the outdoor lifestyle, we caught up with Henrietta Bullen to ask her how her experience living in the Wild West was going as she completes her US spring semester, ready to return to NZ.

Third-generation SMC Old Girl Henrietta Bullen (2015-2019) is studying in Bozeman, Montana. Embracing the outdoor lifestyle, we caught up with Henrietta to ask her how her experience living in the Wild West was going as she completes her US spring semester, ready for her return to NZ.

What drew you to pursue a double major in Art History and Biological Sciences at an American University? 
I am doing a double degree in science and arts at UC and am now in my final undergraduate year. I came to Bozeman, Montana, in January to study for the spring semester on a UC exchange at Montana State University. Living and studying in the Wild West of America has been an incredible cultural and international experience that has further enriched my studies. 

What’s it like living in your particular part of the US?
I have fully embraced the cowboy culture here - swing, line and salsa dancing and supporting the MSU ‘Bobcats’ in sports games such as lacrosse, basketball, and rodeo! Surrounded by nature, Bozeman is full of wildlife, with cute squirrels and deer wandering across campus. On road trips not far from Bozeman, it is common to be held up by herds of bison and elk on the roads! The winter was very cold, with a low of -30 degrees when I first arrived during a polar vortex. Bozeman is at an altitude of 4,820 feet, with snow on the ground most of the semester.

Bozeman is a health-driven, outdoorsy place. Being on the doorstep of Yellowstone National Park, it is close to amazing hiking, climbing, fishing and many ski fields. The skiing in Bozeman and the greater Montana area is something that drew me here! A free bus leaves outside my dorm every day to the local ski field, Bridger Bowl, just 20 minutes from downtown – this has been a fantastic way to meet like-minded, passionate skiers, some of whom are now close friends.

How do you envision combining your Art History and Biological Sciences degrees in your future career?
I have a special interest in both the scientific and art worlds. My science and arts degrees complement each other well in many ways. While my arts degree has taught me to think critically about everything I see and read, the sciences have given me a solid understanding and appreciation of the natural world. I am interested in public and animal health and am considering studying science communication, a growing field. I also wish to specialise in research and complete a Masters, and perhaps a PhD.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities or organisations during your time at Montana State University, and how have they enriched your experience?
My love of nature, exploring, and the outdoors suits the Bozeman lifestyle and makes me immediately feel at home here! I am an active member of the MSU Outdoor Club, going on hikes and snowshoeing on weekends. I attended an overnight leadership mountain mindfulness retreat where I met like-minded people with whom I have since been on hikes! In addition, I am heavily involved in yoga at MSU and fitness classes, including spin and functional strength. I have helped to manage and support a men’s soccer team, which came second overall in the intermural competition.

In Year 13 at SMC, I started a Run Club for school lunch times. This initiative was very rewarding and inspired another girl from the UK and me to start a run club here in Bozeman. Our all-weather run club has been a huge success! We run in snowstorms and torrential rain and go on a different trail each time. The run club has been a fantastic way to explore Bozeman in the company of friends. We are currently working towards a half marathon!

What advice would you give to other students who are considering pursuing an overseas education? 
Studying abroad is an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. I have made friends from different walks of life across the globe and had an international university experience, which has exposed me to new cultures and ideas. Studying abroad has enriched my global perspective and enhanced my curiosity about the world.

My advice would be to take absolutely any opportunity to study abroad! And, of course, fully immerse yourself in the culture with an open mind and embrace every opportunity that comes your way.

Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to doing when you return to NZ, what do you miss most?
Studying abroad has given me a greater appreciation for Aotearoa, New Zealand and its people – I am really looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family. I am also looking forward to returning to my job at the University Staff Club - I really enjoy working there and getting to know UC staff. I also look forward to returning to my home mountains and hitting the slopes of Amuri ski field and the Craigieburn Range. I am stoked to return to the snow and have back-to-back ski seasons! I also miss the ocean and beach sunrises, and I can’t wait for fresh seafood and a good cup of coffee!

Your family’s multi-generational connection to SMC is impressive. Did this impact your experience at SMC in any way? 
I feel very grateful to have this special family connection to SMC. From the beginning, it gave me a sense of belonging and connection, and of course, it gave me plenty to talk to my grandmother about!

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