25 June 2014

The Beginning of a Journey

I leave for New Zealand in less than 48 hours, where I’ll be living in Dunedin and studying at the University of Otago for the next five and a half months. Dunedin is a city located on the eastern coast of the South Island, as can be seen in the map below…

I’ve never blogged before. In fact, I always viewed blogs as somewhat self-centered — a glorified Facebook profile, if you will. But upon further reflection, I decided it was probably more selfish of me to be provided with such an amazing opportunity and then not share that experience with others (or at the very least, my mother).

So a-blogging I will go!

I chose to study abroad in New Zealand for several reasons… For one, it’s just a breathtakingly gorgeous country. There are nearly limitless opportunities for tramping, hiking, climbing, biking, and adventuring. New Zealand is also a popular tourist destination, so from a hospitality management perspective that should be interesting.

And to be completely honest… It is comforting to know that New Zealand is an English-speaking country. (Although while I’m out there I do hope to pick up some Maori, which is the second official language of New Zealand.) Also… Lord of the Rings may or may not have had an influence on my decision…

But at the end of the day, I really chose New Zealand because their culture fascinates me.

“Kiwitanga,” the name of my blog, is an English-Maori word literally defined as “the state of being a New Zealander.” Kiwi is the nickname New Zealanders give themselves, and -tanga is a Maori nominalization suffix (like the English -ness at the end of an adverb). So Kiwitanga is a word to describe the Kiwi culture, which (from what I’ve read and heard) is a culture built around warmth, hospitality, balance, strength, and egalitarianism.

I’m ready to experience this culture – to live in it, soak it up, and try to understand it. I want to learn what it means to be a Kiwi, and maybe along the way I will learn more about myself, too.

I invite you to experience this journey with me –  while maybe not in person, at least through my words and photos.

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