As the time for my departure to New Zealand approaches it is hard for me not to think back to April, when I was sitting in a conference room with my fellow students who are studying abroad while taking this QU301 course. Our departure dates were the last thing in our mind, so much of the Spring semester was left, however it came faster than I could have ever imagined. A concept that I am struggling with right now that we discussed in the workshop is separation. This was something I believed would not be too hard for me to do, presently that statement is far from true. Procrastination coupled with many distractions at home have made it very easy for me to delay my inevitable separation. This is something I know I will not be able to do until I am in New Zealand where I will not be able to be distracted from the fact that I am in another country for four months. I look forward to the change in lifestyle that I am expecting when I arrive in New Zealand.
How one is viewed is based on their actions, the old saying “actions speak louder than words” has proven to be true more than once in my life. Slimbach touches on this idea when he states, “It seems to require direct, embodies contact that allows us to hear the cries of a distressed creation, to find ways to create local friendships, and to work, side by side, to provide local, modest, but intensely human lifelines” (Slimbach 9). This concept of action allowing for a better experience while abroad is also seen in Bochner’s ABC model of Culture Contact. Personally I am a kinetic learner and need to participate in an activity or a discussion to learn the best. I feel as thought taking action will be a very important part of my transition into the New Zealand culture. Finding locals to interact with in new environments as well as environments that I am comfortable with will allow me to see and appreciate how different New Zealand is from the U.S.
One of my goals while in New Zealand is to learn as much as I can about the culture, people, and native language. This will be done through research, discussion, and self reflection. This goal was mirrored in Becoming World Wise, “developing a nuanced understanding of our host culture, and grasping our potential to either benefit or damage it…” (Slimbach 10). How I think about and perceive the culture I am in will affect the way I learn and accept the way of life in New Zealand. Having an open mind and being willing to accept the culture I am exposed to will be very important to always consider. Not only having an open mind but also realizing the difference between cultures and thinking about how it affects me and how my opinions and culture are different and foreign to the people I am being exposed to as well. This self reflection and realization of influence on culture will be very important to always remind myself of.
I chose to read Straying from the Flock: Travels in New Zealand by Alexander Elder. This book caught my attention because the author is a doctor from New York City and compares his time in New Zealand to his life in New York which is very relatable to me as I only live an hour away from New York City. This book also caught my attention because he not only travels the entire country on the North and South island but he explores the history and culture of New Zealand. I look forward to reading his experiences while having my own in New Zealand.