My adventures in New Zealand have begun to wind down, I’m 11 weeks into my program and have 5 more to go. Most of my trips haven’t made it into this blog, and there are certainly more to be had in the coming weeks. I’ve been hitting a block over the past few weeks which I believe could apply to any study abroad program.
The Block: Friends, Academics, Money
My new friends and flatmates are great, and I genuinely enjoy every day I can spend with these fun people. After a while though, I miss my friends and family back home and at Whitman, and there’s no way to really fill that gap.
With my light course load, academic demands here are much lower than at Whitman but I still have to study. This past week I took my geology final exam (which was also my first formal test in any subject) and a Maori language test back to back. Both were 2-3 hour tests, and worth about 30% of my final grade. I wasn’t particularly worried about either, but putting in the effort to study for the first time made me realize how inadequate my study methods for my third course, Physics, have become. It’s difficult to establish an academic regime in between long weekends travelling and weekday events, and so I’ve started to cut some trips for academic reasons.
It’s easy to spend money when you have it, but hard to make ends meet as your savings dwindle. I’ve spent nearly all of my money travelling over the past few months, and that lifestyle is now coming to an end. Living in a foreign country with a meager income is not great, but with a tighter pocketbook I’ve started to look harder for free events and volunteer activities in the immediate community. Unfortunately this also means I’ve adopted a stricter food budget.
I’ve taken up regular running, which is easier to stick to when I have weekends on campus. Running has given me a more personal view of Dunedin, and given me access to places I would never see by car. There are excellent tracks running along the Otago Harbor, the Leith River, Ross Creek Reservoir, and a grueling hike to the top of Signal Hill. Frequently I take interesting detours, all of which have reward me with a new view of the city. Fun Fact: Baldwin St. in Dunedin is the steepest street in the world!
In times of stress I usually spend a few hours at the piano, but there aren’t well organized practice rooms at the University of Otago. The situation seems to be that each residential college has a piano, the student clubs building OUSA has one practice room which is regularly booked solid, and the occasional lecture hall has a neglected piano sitting in a corner. The music department has no public practice rooms. I’ve adopted a couple of the lecture hall pianos when the room isn’t in use; the only thing I’m worried about is absent mindedly walking in mid lecture!