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Notes from Abroad: Caitlyn in New Zealand
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Caitlyn Kasper ’16, an economics major currently studying abroad at Lake Forest College in New Zealand.
I am currently spending a semester studying Economics at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. I would like to give a big thanks to the G. Dale Smith, ’37 and Ruth Peterson Smith Endowed Scholarship Fund for International Study-Abroad Programs for helping make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible.
The first weekend I got to New Zealand, I stayed at Omaha Marae and was welcomed into the country by the Maori people. What better way to be welcomed into the country than by the native inhabitants? This was truly an enriching experience that plunged right into the culture and history of the country. It also gave me the opportunity to get to know the other people in my program.
The Maraes are the sacred meeting houses of the Maori people. You must be welcomed onto the property with a Maori ritual. Once the ritual has taken place, you can approach the Marae and enter, after taking your shoes off; no shoes, food, or drinks are allowed in the building. Once you enter, you are overwhelmed by beautiful tribal architecture and designs.
We were fortunate enough to learn a few songs in Maori language, learn a dance to accompany one of the songs, and learn a Maori game. They served us dinner, breakfast and lunch, took us to the beach to watch the sunset, and took us to a pub down the road.
Learning about the Maori culture that weekend made me regret not taking a culture-based class at the university. I would suggest that if you are going to study abroad, to truly go all out and learn everything you can about the country and the culture during your time there.
I could not have thought of a better way to spend my first weekend in New Zealand.