Recently, I’ve found that it’s been a bit difficult for me to come up with topics to talk about on my blog posts, as you could probably tell due to my lack of updates. Before I came to New Zealand, I thought that inspiration would strike immediately given the entirely different environment, the new social atmosphere I’d be creating and immersing myself in, and the many adventures waiting for me to explore. That wasn’t exactly the case though. I’ve managed to do so many things in the small amount of time I’ve spent in this beautiful country, and there’s so much more to come—but I couldn’t seem to form all the thoughts running through my head coherently enough to actually make a post.
My mind has been in a constant battle between the new information I’ve been receiving and the previous knowledge I knew before coming here. The papers I’m taking are bringing issues to light that I didn’t initially consider before coming to NZ, plus living in a house of 9 people leaves me with new things to learn and deal with daily.
I didn’t expect to be one of the only international students in all of my classes, making me feel much more aware that I’m American and therefore, constantly making me more conscious of what the people I interact with might be thinking of me. To be completely fair, while I know my privilege as being an American—and a white American at that—is vital to acknowledge, there’s a sense that everyone is judging me because they pity me; and honestly, they probably are given the political climate in America at the moment. However, I don’t want to be cast into a box of generalizations just because I come from the United States. I want to be able to leave behind the labels that come with being American and create a new version of myself here. Doing that isn’t as easy as it seems.
To be completely honest, it hasn’t been that hard to integrate myself into the culture here, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go through a lot of internal struggle on the daily. I was afraid of coming off as too “obviously American” when I started packing for the trimester, but I come to think that the people here don’t necessarily know you’re from America until you start talking. The way of dress in Wellington is relatively similar to that of the more hip cities in America—probably much like that of the fashion seen in New York City and Los Angeles. The overall vibe of Wellington is relatively chill, and I like to believe I fit in well. Although I can walk around the city going pretty much unnoticed, I find that almost every day I am thinking to myself if the person I casually made eye contact with can tell that I’m not from Wellington or New Zealand.
This shouldn’t be something that clouds my mind most of the time, but it’s hard not to when I don’t necessarily agree with or relate to the American stereotypes that people overseas create. This is definitely a hurdle I’ll have to jump over to be able to live normally and to the fullest in New Zealand. I can’t walk around on my tip-toes wondering what people might whisper about me as I walk past with my friends—although the man that had whispered “what are Americans doing in New Zealand?” in somewhat of a displeasing manner as my group walked past him and his wife will probably stick with me for a while.
As the trimester continues on, I am starting to realize the decent sides of coming from America. My papers primarily focus on social issues in New Zealand and America, so having the other perspective has led me to participate in some interesting conversations with the other Kiwi students. I have to understand that I can bring valuable information with me from the States to share with the people in my papers, as well as they can share their point of views on the issues at hand. More than anything, it’s allowing me to see a different side to the topics I have started to learn about while at Arcadia.
I’ll end my post here, as my mind starts running a million different ways trying to create a coherent thought.
I look forward to talking more about social issues in New Zealand in a future post!
Until then, Kia Ora!