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Meet Dakota Ahrendsen

Dakota in New Zealand

March 2012

Hometown: Anamosa, Iowa
Major: Biology/ Applied Ethics
Where did you study abroad? University of Auckland, New Zealand
How long were you there? five months

Why did you choose to study in New Zealand?
I chose New Zealand (map it) mainly because of the cultural differences between there and the US. Even though they speak English, the Maori and Kiwi culture is so different from the culture of our own. They are more laid back but still work very hard and are extremely proud of where they come from. It also helped that it was in the Southern Hemisphere so when I went in February, it was actually summer there.

What is your favorite memory?
The best memory I have of New Zealand was going on a two week road trip of the South Island during mid-semester break. It was a chance for me to see the real beauty of the country, experience the culture fully, and to meet and interact with people from all over the world.

What was the hardest part about studying in a different country?
It was difficult getting used to the way classes were taught. Coming from Ambrose where we have small class sizes and going to the University of Auckland (map it) where classes are between 400-600 people was difficult to get used to. It was also difficult adapting to living with people I didn't know who were from all over the world.

How did your study abroad experience impact you as a person?
I learned so much about many different types of cultures that I really learned to appreciate people from all over the world. It helped me understand that the social bubble I live in in Iowa is not what makes the world revolve, and that there are so many different things to learn and experience in places that might be outside of my comfort zone.

Any advice to other students who are thinking about studying abroad?
I suggest taking any opportunity given to study abroad, whether it's for two weeks or a whole semester. You will really have the time of your life and make memories that you'll have forever. Who knows? It might lead you to go back to that country some day or spark an interest in traveling to unique places in the world.


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