Well, I have successfully completed my semester at the University of Waikato. Lucky me, I have no exams, so I am done three weeks early! It feels great to be done with school and have some free time to do a bit more traveling. However, this time is also filled with a bit of dread as I begin the “this is the last time I’m going to do this here…” realizations and start to say my goodbyes.
Classes ended really well (as far as I know at least, I don’t have all my results back, but the ones I do have are good!), and as I reflect on everything I’ve absorbed from my time here at Uni, I feel as though I’ve gotten everything I wanted to out of my experience abroad and so much more. In class (my Mori art class specifically), I went from feeling like a complete outsider on the first day of class, being one of two non-Mori people in the class and the only one not from NZ, to feeling like part of the family on the last day of class. All the students were inviting and friendly, and after spending a semester with them I felt totally comfortable giving an end-of-semester presentation in front of them talking about their cultural artwork that I somehow feel a connection to now. My lecturer for that class was truly amazing. She was so enthusiastic about everything she talked about. She was incredibly knowledgable and you could tell that all she wanted to do was share her knowledge with us and help us to appreciate the artwork as much as she does. Because of this I have gained a huge appreciation for all Mori creations including whakairo (wood/stone carvings), raranga harekeke (weaving with flax), and moko (Mori tattoo). I am so excited, because now that I have free time to travel I am actually visiting the museums that are homes to so many of the taonga (treasures, artwork) that I learned about in this class.
I am currently in Wellington, home of Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand. Tomorrow my friends and I get to experience this noteworthy slice of New Zealand culture. Today we toured through the Parliament buildings of NZ’s capital including the “Beehive” where the Prime Minister’s office is located, and the national library, one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Wellington; we even got to sit in on the House of Representatives question time. So far, I’ve really enjoyed Wellington and we were blessed with beautiful weather today! This was especially appreciated as we went up to the top of Mt. Victoria and could see 360 degrees out over the whole city and water surrounding it. I’d definitely say this was a successful day in enjoying one of the few things I had yet to see while here in NZ.
I look forward to many more days like these as I see a bit more of Wellington tomorrow and then head up north to explore Auckland and the Northland with my sister when she visits next week. After that it’ll be a bunch of goodbyes to my wonderful friends here and some very happy hellos to my friends back at Linfield.