Did I get that right?
Anyways, one month to go until I start my Journey to Auckland, New Zealand!
Now for some introductions. My name is Abby and I will be using this blog to track my adventures studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand! I am a self defined dork who loves reading, hiking, and exploring new foods. I am a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire studying Anthropology. In one month I will be heading to NZ; Here’s a little bit of how I got to this new journey!
I chose to study in New Zealand for a variety of academic and personal reasons. I came into my undergraduate experience with a very typical albeit boring expectation of my academic life. I would get my pre-medicine classes done, major in something like Biology or Chemistry, and begrudgingly get my liberal arts distribution credits out of the way. Once I got to college, I settled on a Neuroscience major, drawn in by the myriad of networks within our brain that can explain our everyday behaviors. When I would go home on breaks, and people would ask me about my studies and what I was learning, I would enthusiastically spew off some cool biochemical pathways or neurotransmitters and call it good. After a while, however, I realized that I wasn’t learning. While my Neuroscience classes fascinated me, they were, for my brain, an accumulation of facts that were sporadically related one class to the next. I had a sense that once I graduated, I would remember little of what I had learnt. I started to explore other disciplines.
Admittedly, before coming to college, I had no idea what Anthropology entailed. Sure, I had heard the term in movies and at museums, but Anthropology as a field of study was a murky concept to me. This changed when I took introduction to Anthropology. I was immediately drawn into the field— the enormity of it (biological, cultural, medical)— yet the unique interweaving between disciplines. I found myself learning about people, about stories or ethnographies that, while specific, often applied to so many areas of life or thought. In this field, I found not just one passion, but an interdisciplinary mix fields– health, sociology, humanism, activism, medicine, philosophy— that all fall under the umbrella of what it means to “be human.”
An important aspect of anthropology is cultural competency and cultural exchange. You can only learn so much about other cultures and other people from reading a book. I think that New Zealand is the perfect setting to further my anthropology studies due to its rich and complex cultures and histories. I want to explore what it means to be human in New Zealand; I want to study law and identity, the cultural impact of colonialism, and the richness of the Maori culture. I can’t imagine a better setting to learn about the universality and uniqueness of human life.
I am extremely excited to study at the University of Auckland, an internationally recognized center for the study of Pacific archaeology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics. My home institution— Dartmouth College— has partnered with the University of Auckland for years to allow students in the Anthropology department to live and study alongside New Zealand students of European, Maori, Pacific Island, and Asian descent, learning about their cultures from personal contacts as well as from classes. I expect to learn so much from both my classes and my experiences.
When I am not in class, I cannot wait to explore all that New Zealand has to offer. Backpacking, hiking, and camping are my favorite activities, and I am excited to see beautiful sights and backpack in the many wonderful national parks.
Stay tuned for updates on my 40+ hours of travel (gasp) and my first couple of days in NZ!