Hi everyone, my name is Abby Spooner and I am studying abroad in Dunedin, New Zealand for the Spring 2016 semester! I decided to study abroad because I love to travel but have not been able to travel much outside the United States. Additionally, living in another country has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. However, these are not the only reasons I decided to study abroad. As a result of not doing much travel outside the US, I lack knowledge about cultures other than the ones located within the US. I believe that knowledge about international cultures is a vital aspect of a well rounded education and it is for this reason that I decided studying abroad was something I had to do. Deciding to go abroad was the easy part, deciding where to actually study was the challenge. For me the decision was between a European country or an Oceanic country. Ultimately, I decided that traveling to Europe would be easier later in life and that a trip to the other side of the word was an opportunity I could not pass up. Form there the decision got a bit easier, there was just something about New Zealand that drew me in. It is difficult for me to pinpoint what exactly attracted me to New Zealand, but there was just something about the culture and sense of adventure that is commonly associated with the country and culture. I love being outdoors, exploring local culture, and traveling off the beaten path. Based on my research the culture of New Zealand, particularly Dunedin, also uphold these same passions and is the perfect country for me to study in!
Today, our workshop has not only inspired me but has already influenced my study abroad experience. The information we covered today has caused me to now have a completely different view on studying abroad. Before, my motivation to study abroad was purely for my own benefit. After learning about Rites of Passage I am going into study abroad with the knowledge that this experience is not solely my own. By visiting another culture I am I going through my own rite of passage. However, I amnot the sole influence of this experience. The individuals and places I encounter along with a will influence and change my perspectives and I may also change their ideas and perspectives. By participating in the course throughout the semester the impact of the culture and the individuals I meet will be something I will be actively thinking about. I am most looking forward to the end of the semester when I will be able to see the progress and change I have made through the completion of our final project. This class will help all of us share our experience with each other, our families and friends, and our future selves. A quote I think sums this feeling up is, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” (Miriam Beard). Typically I am apprehensive to change. However, this is a change I am looking forward to and am excited to begin!