I have been studying abroad since August 2014, at New York University – Abu Dhabi, an American institute in the United Arab Emirates. I have just completed my first year and have three years remaining at NYUAD, from which I will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and theatre.
Since leaving New Zealand not only have I encountered all of the typical problems one might face when moving away from home, such as homesickness and lost luggage, but I have experienced life lessons I would not have dreamed of going through if it were not for delving into the unknown – studying away.
I have grown as a person, but what has surprised me the most is how my appreciation and pride for being a New Zealander has developed.
Being immersed with students from all around the world, I am constantly questioning others on their culture and being questioned about New Zealand’s – questions I would never have had to answer if I were studying at home. This has forced me to learn more of my own culture in a way that I would not have done if I had not decided to study abroad.
While studying away one meets and makes amazing friends and learns invaluable life lessons, but it is the lessons you learn about yourself that are the most important. These lessons have taught me to appreciate the place where I was fortunate enough to have grown up, New Zealand, while also gaining a deeper understanding into my culture, history and heritage.
Studying abroad means representing both yourself and the country you come from and, because of my experiences since being abroad, I am more of a patriotic New Zealand citizen than I was before beginning my studies in Abu Dhabi.
It is not that I was not a patriotic citizen while I was in New Zealand, it is simply the lack of time I had at home to acknowledge the true beauty of what New Zealand is.
This lack of time at home, between work, studies or daily errands, can force one to forget how important the culture one lives in is. If anything, since moving away I have become more aware of my cultural identity and my country. Due to this I feel closer to home than I ever did while at home, simply because of . . .