Why the University of Auckland?: a Prospective

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Billy Greene
July 8, 2024

With an extra-long lunch break because of a cancelled seminar — and, most importantly, the promise of pizza — I impulsively decided to attend an IES Abroad session. Anything was better than the abysmal dining options at my university; and maybe I would fall in love with one of the programs along the way. The posterboard in my dorm’s lobby displayed a wide array of countries and institutions: Korea, Argentina, Switzerland. The only meeting time left was for the University of Auckland’s direct enrollment program.  


On my home campus –– a small, liberal arts college in rural Wisconsin — word travels faster than any left-lane tailgater. Pizza in hand, I brought this up at the Auckland meeting because I was claustrophobic in the petty dramas that dotted my day-to-day life. I knew the anonymity a new, larger place could bring me. I could rediscover myself outside of my quotidian bubble; and, once I saw the photos, my choice was clear. 


Until then, my family’s travels were primarily concerned with escaping the brutal, Midwestern winters. The furthest I had been from my hometown was California. I found a respite in Florida alongside family friends over spring breaks. Only in my first year of college, I took two cross-country road trips that transformed my perspective on travel. In the throes of all-night diners, roadside hikes, and cheap motel showers, I was a free agent. It was never an act of escaping; it was and continues to be an active gesture of redefinition. Later that year, a stint at my home university’s center in London reaffirmed this: I found my voice in the fluidity travel lends, unbound to any singular perception or definition. 


Call it travel fever; call it reckless abandon. However, I posit this fluidity sources from my love of nature and my queer, non-binary identity. As I love to walk, run, and hike, so too are my life and desire in constant transition. Given opportunities to diverge from the traditional path onto a more scenic or unwieldy route, I will unabashedly take them.  


IES Abroad’s program in Auckland specifically brings this wanderer out of me. With direct enrollment, I will be a mere face in the crowd, left to my own devices to cultivate a life beyond the academic — a privilege and challenge impossible at my American university. Auckland likewise balances the urban with the natural: already, I am researching different clubs and organizations I can join to immerse myself in the vistas of beauty Aotearoa has to offer. That fails to mention the temperate climate, queer friendliness, and seaside access the city boasts.  


And who knows: maybe in a couple months, I’ll be witnessing the elusive Aurora Australis on a weekend excursion — promised pizza in hand and eyes to the sky. I cannot wait to share my various excursions and experiences in Aotearoa with you! 


A 0.5 selfie image of myself carrying a box of Papa John's.

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