“I had to be so much more independent over there. I learned a lot about how I can handle myself overseas.”
Chelsea is pursuing a global studies and sociology double major, and a minor in leadership. Her experience in New Zealand helped her understand her areas of study by exposing her to a new culture and society and challenging her to step outside of her comfort zone.
Chelsea’s interest in her areas of study was reinforced by her time in Auckland. Regarding global studies, she found that taking coursework in New Zealand politics, as well as having a professor from Samoa expanded her understanding of the South Pacific culture. She felt she had a much better understanding of the region and its people by experiencing it firsthand. Chelsea also took two sociology courses in New Zealand. Her studies helped her to see differences at the societal level, such as the situation of the Maori (native population of New Zealand). "The Maori have so much more say than our Native Americans do, and so I thought that was really interesting, to see their balance of power," she said.
Chelsea’s study of leadership was also affected by her time in Auckland. "I had to be so much more independent over there. I learned a lot about how I can handle myself overseas." Chelsea will take an extra semester of coursework at the University of Minnesota to finish her degree and graduate. However, she doesn’t see that as a drawback of her experience. "Now that I’ve studied abroad, I know that my stay here is extended, but I feel that it’s completely worth it." After graduation, Chelsea plans to continue with her studies. In terms of her career, she hopes that travel will be a big part of her future.
Chelsea’s time in Auckland was spent on more than papers for her courses. She found many ways to explore and get acquainted with New Zealand and the “Kiwis” (New Zealanders). One of the goals she set for her trip was to visit every suburb of Auckland. “I was learning stuff in class, but I learned most stuff when I was traveling around. I don’t think my experience would’ve been nearly as exciting and beneficial if I hadn’t been traveling.”
Being an international student was an eye-opening experience for Chelsea. She found that New Zealanders were very open to people from other countries, and accepting of those who had limited cultural knowledge or language abilities. “Being an international student there, I’ve thought about how we (US students) treat our international students here...it’s my goal to try to interact with them more this year.” Considering all of the learning she did both in and out of the classroom, Chelsea felt that study abroad was “the best educational experience you can get while you’re in college.”
Check out the University Study in New Zealand: University of Auckland.