Kara Blye Copeland
Journal Entry #1
I am currently writing this post in the airport, waiting to board for Auckland, New Zealand, and I cannot wait! I am going into this trip with such and open mind and eager to learn new things. Today I also want to reflect back on three movies that I watched that have given me some insight into New Zealand, or at least from behind a camera lens.
The first that I watched was The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and it was rather interesting. I really enjoyed getting to see the well known scenery of New Zealand and hear the ways in which they talk. The movie was about a young boy, forced to move in with strangers do to child services, and the adventures he endures with this new family. The boy grows close to his new foster mom, but she unfortunately passes away, leaving him with his foster father. Ricky, the young boy, attempts to run away because he is not very fond of his foster father, until his foster father finds him and they begin to adventure. While they are out in the wilderness, they are accompanied by their pet dog, and survive on their own in the woods. A manhunt begins for the two, and they have to navigate through the wilderness while trying to avoid the police. This movie is quite hilarious, and I will not ruin the end for anyone who wants to watch but I definitely recommend seeing it! A lot of American culture is referenced to and liked by Ricky, especially Tupac, and leads for some pretty funny jokes. A great movie to sit down and watch with some friends or family!
Next, my parents and I watched What We Do in the Shadows, which was quite comical. Honestly, this movie reminded me of a Keeping Up with the Kardashians episode, but instead of the widely know Kardashians in America, it was vampires in New Zealand! It showed a family of vampires brought together, how they live on a day to day basis, and also showed them in separate interview like areas answering questions and narrating some of their life like they do on reality television shows. My parents did not think it was quite as funny as I did, but they also do not love shows like whereas I do! While watching the movies I also saw on the news where this film was approved to be made into a U.S. television series, so I am super excited if that is true! All of the vampires had their own individual personalities and they were interesting and quirky. This is such a pop culture movie in my opinion, and the story line of the movie is more related as to what a documentary would be. I think this is because the movie is suppose to take place in a setting where a film crew is following the vampire family around and documenting their lives. I loved this movie and if you want a good laugh, watch it!
The last movie I watched was Pork Pie, which is a super funny comedy about three individuals on the run in New Zealand in a orange mini cooper. This movie is a remake of an old original, which I have not seen. This was probably the least favorite of the movies I watched, but still not bad at all. I would be interested to see the remake and then regather my thoughts on this movie.
Journal Entry #2
Today is Sunday, May 13th, in Warkworth, New Zealand. The air is pure, the birds sing, and there is calm among the water in our very own backyard. Today, I use this time to reflect on the amazing experience and time I have had on this trip. Coming to New Zealand was going to be a bit of a shock for me, as I thought, because the United States was my home and I had never left. In my hometown, pretty much everyone looked the same, between 3 major ethnicities which are Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic. My expectations for New Zealand were pretty different than reality when it comes to demographic comparisons. Little to my knowledge did I know that New Zealand has a large population of Asian immigrants and Pacific Islanders. In America, one might ignorantly conclude that all of these people look and act the same, but their true differences are the main attributors to New Zealand’s culture.
On May 9th, we went and talked to a few students from Auckland University and the University of Auckland Technology. Here I met a guy my age, named Jeremy, who was from a Pacific Island and came to New Zealand at a very early age. My peers and I began to talk with Jeremy, asking him how school was going and trying to create small talk. After a while, the conversation became deeper and we began to discover that values that each of us shared. We were joined by his peer, Tatiana, who is actually from Cook Island and part Cook-Maori, which are the indigenous peoples here in New Zealand. In Tatiana’s opinion, tradition was the most important value. With tradition came respect and also understanding. Her Maori native roots take her lineage back a few hundred years to a tradition continued to this day. She mentioned attending a Christian church with her father, where the entire sermon was spoke in native Maori, which she did not fully know. Tatiana expressed that even though she does not fully understand, it still means a lot to her to be able to attend church with just her father and have that time spent together. She also mentioned that family was very important to her, and that elders were always respected and listened to first, and that your respect was earned with age.
This was somewhat different than Jeremy’s family and views, where he valued time spent having fun as the most important concept in life. Jeremy also discussed his life around the city of Auckland where he was raised. His neighborhood was like some in larger cities of the United States, just a small apartment complex in a big city, where he had a one bedroom apartment. Jeremy did not live on campus because he said it was very expensive, which I personally can relate to because I struggled paying my expenses to live on campus my first year at Alabama as well. Our group asked Jeremy what opinions did he have about his city, and what he thought about his diversity, which his reply was that he loved it. Jeremy said that he believes many people in New Zealand love and respect each other deeply because they all come from different areas of the world to make New Zealand their home.
The culture of New Zealand is simply beautiful, each heritage makes a small mark on the city and gives it character like none other. Food, religion, ethnicity, and family, are all absorbed and welcomed at this small island, and I look forward to communicating with the high schoolers in this area tomorrow morning. As they say here in New Zealand, Kia Ora, and have a great day!
Journal Entry #3
Here we are! Officially, this is two weeks deep into our very own cultural emersion and adventure in New Zealand. Honestly, there is no amount of pictures, videos, or text to write, that could begin to explain how much of an experience this trip has been for myself. If you are reading this and need the push to go outside your comfort zone and study abroad, go do it! I have always said that you learn more outside your comfort zone than you do inside, and this trip is the perfect example. The past few days were spent in Christchurch, New Zealand, which is widely known for suffering from two massive earthquakes in 2010-2011. The city has struggled to rebuild after completely losing everything, but one idea I focused on was how did society rebuild, and how did individuals rebuild themselves.
Personally, I have never experienced a natural disaster, but the respect I have towards the citizens of Christchurch exceeds more than I expected. Before our arrival, my peers and I were warned that Christchurch had ‘bad vibes,’ and to be careful. After hearing that I honestly was somewhat fearful of how the people in the city would respond to a bunch of Americans asking questions about their everyday life. But how these people were so, so, terribly wrong about Christchurch. After losing everything, students from the University of Canterbury teamed up and created the Student Volunteer Army, which helped clean up large amounts of liquefaction from the streets. This volunteer club gained popularity on a worldwide scale, and we were lucky to be able to speak with some of the individuals last week. Talking to the students made me realize how Christchurch came together in this time of tragedy, remained humble, and rebuilt themselves. I learned that when a community and neighborhood loses everything, they do not grow apart, but simply emerge greater than before. The people of Christchurch mourn the lives lost, but are thankful for those who survived and have contributed to the rebirth of the city. After being in many cities, especially a large one like Auckland, Christchurch felt more like home than any other place. Something about this rebirth has created a beautiful sense of overall welcome to any help and faith in the future. In my opinion, the people in Christchurch had the response that they could either continue to live in fear of what will come next, or begin to live life in appreciation of what they have. I love this city so much, and recommend it for anyone planning a trip to New Zealand.
Prior to Christchurch, we stayed in Rotorua, which I cannot lie, was not my favorite place. And no, not because of the smell of sulfur in the air! It was much harder to communicate with the people in Rotorua, mainly due to the fact they were not friendly and many were not natives or had not been there long at all. We visited the spa, which was amazing, and also other geothermal pools which was very interesting! From a tourist standpoint, Rotorua was fun but I think as a student with questions about a culture, I did not find many answers. People here often did not hold a conversation with anyone for long which either is just how they are, or may be because they are not found of foreign visitors.
While on the coach to Picton today, our bus driver made the comment that at one point the people of Christchurch and suburbs were frustrated that immigrants were coming into town and taking jobs which immediately reminded me of the current immigration issues in the United States. I did not have the opportunity to further ask him his opinion, but I am looking forward to researching this situation when I arrive in Wellington tomorrow!
Until next time!
Journal Entry #4
New Zealand has been quite the place to observe for the past few weeks. Coming to New Zealand, I did not really know what to expect upon arrival. Before, I had been told that New Zealand consisted of vast farmland and beautiful views. One idea I had inside my head was that the entire population would somewhat generally look the same. I thought that New Zealand would not have much immigration and would mainly consist of individuals from their own lineage that all ties back to the islands, but I was completely wrong. Especially when we arrived in Auckland at the beginning of our trip, everyone that we met was an immigrant.
Yesterday, I spent time with the group at the University of Victoria in Wellington, during which I spoke with a student named Geo, who was from the Philippines. Geo was an exceptional source to ask many of my pondering questions about past time hobbies that students practice. I also questioned him as to what his thoughts were on the population density and buildup, which he then explained in his own opinion that the majority of people he knew were not native to New Zealand and migrated here as well. We also discussed the correlation between New Zealand and American films, as well as the film industry, and what New Zealanders think. Geo discussed that he believes immigration and minorities are well represented in films in New Zealand whereas in the United States, the typical film has a cast that is either all caucasian or a mix of caucasian and african-american. This was quite fascinating to put into perspective due to the massive size of the film industry in the US and the general output of movies compared to the one or two movies New Zealand puts out in one calendar year. Although, something I did not know was the input and influence of New Zealand companies into modern movie making today. Movies like Avatar and The Lord of the Rings trilogy were mainly produced here in New Zealand but paid for by directors and companies in the United States.
I think that if New Zealand was to step up and create more ways of income and production of exports they would see their population double. But due to the stunted growth of Christchurch after the earthquakes, and the GDP of the country in comparison to others as well in my research, it even deepens my belief that New Zealand should try to consider the opportunities of investing in foreign trade and domestic production more. The farmland is immense in acerage but I believe that the people of New Zealand use their farmland for self-sufficiency rather than using it for mass production and widespread trade. I believe that New Zealand could use their territory for much more than what they do now. To anyone who may be reading this, and assume that this is a capitalistic rant, it simply is not. This is my honest creative thought process on how New Zealand could apply their knowledge and territory towards a general welfare investment in the world. The demographics and landscape of a country does not have to dictate how much or how little a country produces and provides in a worldwide element.