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Finals and Road Trips

Time October 30th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

It’s week three of our month-long finals stint. It just so happens that three of my finals are all next week. Having a month for finals is an odd experience (surely the administration has to know we don’t really need a full month for four tests), but it’s so nice to have this time to do some traveling. I just case back from a trip around the southern end of the South Island, and I had a great time. Now I have finals all next week, another week-long trip after that, then my last week in NZ before I head back home.


My family is really ready for me to come home, and I’m really ready to see them. My family dynamic seems to be pretty different from others’ in terms of spending so much time away from home. This is the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my family, and it’s taking a toll on everyone. I’m so excited to see them all again. Not to say that other kids studying at Otago don’t miss their families. But most everyone else’s family was able to visit them while they were here, and they’re all traveling a little more before they go home. I’m making a bee-line for Oklahoma.


Although I’m ready to be home, the time between semesters needs to be when I decide what I’m doing after I graduate in May. I have a pretty good idea of my plans, but I won’t be able to solidify anything until I’m in the US again. It’s been nice to have this time abroad to really reflect on what it is I want to be doing professionally. I started to apply for a bunch of jobs, but I think I’m going to go straight to grad school. It’s crazy to think that I could be well into a graduate program just one short year after studying in New Zealand. Life is good.


I haven’t really started to prepare to return home yet, even though I’m leaving in three short weeks. I figure I have the whole last week here for that, and that’s about as far in advance as I ever plan for a move (I’ve moved a lot in my 21 years). I’ll talk more about that in my next blog, as well outline some advice for other first gen students planning to study abroad.


Until next time,



Almost Time for Finals

Time October 1st, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

It’s weird transitioning from the block plan back to the semester system. At Colorado College, we take one class at a time, each lasting for 3.5 weeks. I’m still taking four classes here at Otago just like I would be at CC, but I’m not dealing with the intensity of the block plan and getting back into the habit of juggling multiple classes. I was honestly kind of sick of the block plan when I got here, because it’s especially hard for science majors. But now that I’m back on a regular schedule, it’s made me really appreciate how much you can learn in a single day at CC. I love it here- I have so much more time to relax and so much more advanced notice to write essays and things like that. Otago is much slower paced than CC, and I’m really enjoying it. We have a whole month for finals (which is pretty weird) but that’s just even more time to read for pleasure and to do brush up on some things we learned earlier on in the semester. Overall, adjusting to this educational landscape hasn’t been difficult because frankly it’s just not as demanding of me as my home institution is. It’s really made me think a lot about the pressure I put on myself, and I feel like I’m growing much more than I even thought I would.

On another topic, I am almost positive I am the only student studying abroad in New Zealand who hasn’t been to Europe. It’s interesting to listen to other students talk about other places they’ve traveled to, because they always just assume everyone is also well traveled. After all, we are living on the other side of the world. I’ve always considered myself to be mildly well traveled- I’ve been to Brazil and Australia (and now Fiji) but I’ve got nothing on most people here. Now that we’re coming to the end of the semester, a lot of people are making plans to spend a week or two in some other exotic location before they head home. This is crazy to me. This is the longest I’ve ever spent away from home (even though I go to school out of state- it’s just an 11 hour drive), and I know that I’ll be desperate to get to my family by the time it’s time to leave. I also am spending more money here than I ever have in my entire life. There is a 0% chance I would be able to even come close to being able to afford a week or two in Thailand or Cambodia like a lot of my friends are. I’ve spent the time my friends spend planning these trips trying to make sure my scholarships go through. They just ask their parents for money. Of course they’re my friends and I’m so happy that they have these opportunities, but we are just doing this whole study abroad thing so differently.


I’m just happy to be here.


Til next time




Time September 14th, 2015 in 2015 Fall, College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by

I can’t believe how quickly my time here has been passing. It feels like I’ve only been here for a month, but I’ve already returned from mid-semester break.

I went to Fiji with some friends for break, which still doesn’t seem to me like it really happened. It’s like it was just an incredibly beautiful week-long dream. It was not easy to make this trip happen, because paying for a week in Fiji meant taking out an extra loan and missing out on some things I would’ve liked to do also. The hardest part about studying in New Zealand is that there are so many incredible things to do, but if you’re on a budget you have to pick and choose. It can get frustrating at times because it feels like others just have unlimited resources to go off and do whatever they want whenever they want. I’ve just been reminding myself that I’m already in New Zealand, and I need to stop comparing my experiences to other people’s. This is something I’ve struggled with all throughout college. I worry that I’m not experiencing enough, as if I have some finite amount of time or opportunities to experience fun things. I’m getting better at it though.


This weekend we’re going to Doubtful Sound with IFSA, and I could not be more excited. It’s going to be so beautiful, and it’s definitely not something I would have planned on my own. I’m also planning a road trip with some friends from the down here in Dunedin all the way up to the top of the north island after finals. We’re going to stay in Rotorua and hopefully go to Hobbiton. I also really want to ski before the season is over. There are just so many incredible things to do, and my time here is too short.

I’ll check back in soon!



Winter in Dunedin

Time August 17th, 2015 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars, New Zealand | No Comments by


I’ve been here for about a month now and it’s going really well. I got pretty sick for a few weeks but I’m feeling much better as of recently. I really love all my classes. I’m taking 2 religion classes (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as one called Science, Religion and Knowledge), an English Lit class called Controversial Classics, and another class called Gender and the Media. Since it’s my fourth year, I’ve pretty much finished up my major and I’m just taking classes for fun. I think my favorite is the lit class. It’s the first english class I’ve taken in college and we’re reading some really great books. Right now we’re reading Oscar Wilde, but we just finished a unit on Alan Duff’s controversial portrayal of Maori in his book Once Were Warriors. Learning about Maori culture and history has been one of the most interesting parts of living here so far. I thought it would comparable to Native Americans in the U.S. (and it is in some ways) but in a lot of ways it’s not. It’s a pretty complicated situation that I’m actively trying to learn more about. Read More »


T-5 days until departure

Time June 24th, 2015 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

I’m moving to New Zealand in less than a week. Saying ‘I’m moving to New Zealand’ feels a lot more serious than ‘I’m studying in New Zealand’, and I think it’s important for me to specify that I’m moving, because I have to prepare for so much more than just studying. I’m blogging from my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve been here for a few weeks since I finished school in Colorado and I’m basically just making sure I have all my loose ends squared away while I spend time with family and friends before I go. I’ve done almost everything I can to prepare at this point, I’m just waiting to hear back from my bank to see if I got approved for a credit card (for emergencies and credit building) and I need to call in and pick up a three months supply of my prescriptions, which I got approval to do from my insurance yesterday. None of this is fun or interesting, but it feels exciting because it means I’ll have more time in Dunedin to focus on fun things.

When I left for college in Colorado, my family and I spent a lot of time stressing about all the little things I would need. I ended up leaving for school with way more random stuff given to me by friends and family than I had room for. I feel like leaving for school out of state has prepared me for this moment to a degree, but this time I can’t just have someone overnight me my birth certificate when I need it for something. I need to be sure I have everything taken care of. Having IFSA-Butler there as a contact and a resource has been massively comforting. I’m nervous to be so far away for so long, but I’m so excited that this is all coming together. This is an unbelievable opportunity that I will always be grateful for.