Guest Post by Author: Tazim Danji
Website: Being Tazim
We all think about it all the time. Hindsight is 20-20. If you got one “do-over,” what would you do differently?
Did I pick Auckland, New Zealand for my university exchange because it was just about as far away as I could get from Vancouver, Canada? Not exactly, but it didn’t hurt.
The stressful application and visa process, packing everything away, and then having to change flights several times, not to mention the 3 hour wait at the airport in the security line, should have tipped me off. Of course, at that point, it was too late to change my mind. Because my best friend and I would be out of the country for a year, and sub-letting wasn’t a possibility, the exchange forced us to put everything in storage and find another place to live when we returned.
Why did I initially think that it would be worth it?
1) I was tired of living in Vancouver, and dealing with the rain. . . plus the bureaucracy at the University of British Columbia was getting to me.
2) I needed some credits in Indigenous Art to finish my Art History degree but the courses at UBC in this area were severely lacking. Maori/Pacific art being taught in New Zealand or Aztec art being taught in Vancouver, by someone who’d rather be backpacking than teaching? It seemed like an easy choice.
3) I’d heard about how beautiful New Zealand is, but didn’t quite buy in to the allure of this tiny country. What changed my mind was the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
4) The fact that New Zealanders speak English was a big draw – I didn’t want to have to figure out a different language on top of trying to study.
5) It was supposed to be an inexpensive year – that is, until the New Zealand dollar decided to rise in value. The country turned out to be an expensive low-value place for me to spend my year.
So, what would I do differently? I would have shortened my stay to one semester and spent more time travelling around the country. My best friend and I didn’t make it to the South Island (where the majority of the Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed), because it cost $200 each way on the ferry, but we did manage to buy a car and drive around the North Island a fair amount. I don’t regret having gone to New Zealand – it would have been great if it were a vacation instead of the place where I was forced to live for a year – but I do wish things could have gone differently. For instance, wouldn’t it have been great if the courses that I flew for 24 hours to take hadn’t been cancelled and that the ones that I did take had transferred properly? If I had to do it again, I’d make sure that I had a lot of money and time.
Tazim Damji is an art historian, interior decorator and artist residing in Vancouver, Canada. You can check out the guest post, by Michael Venske, on the Being Tazim blog she writes here. This is her first time participating in Bloggerstock, a monthly blog event where participating blogs all post on the same topic.