Swept up in the chaos of midterms and preparing for mid-semester traveling, I forgot to post about my current status! It’s hard to believe classes are halfway over, but it’s even harder to believe I just returned from Fiji. Despite the sunburn, it was an incredible experience. The beautiful beaches and welcoming people were quite the escape from rainy Auckland.
Holidays provide a unique chance to meet other study abroad students since we often travel to similar destinations and accommodations. For example, we stayed at the Beach House in Korolevu, Fiji and another IFSA student from Canterbury happened to be there! There were also other students studying in New Zealand from France, Denmark, Scotland, and Norway. There is certainly a pathway that leads a particular type of individual into a study abroad experience–well-educated families, white, higher socioeconomic status, and a history of travel and cultural experiences. This seems to be the case for my particular program, as well as exchange students I have met from other places.
As a first-generation student, I do feel slightly out of place in this experience. I’m not well-traveled, nor am I free from financial burdens. Therefore, it has been difficult to relate to some of my peers. However, I have definitely felt similarly at Wake Forest. This is not the first time I have felt out of place based on my background, yet I think that gives me an advantage in adapting to new social landscapes. If this were my first time feeling like I didn’t belong, acclimating to Auckland may have been a far more difficult task. Being a first-gen student means I am constantly pushed outside of my comfort zone, with only minimal support from an inexperienced family, but that makes adaptation all the more challenging and rewarding. Navigating new experiences only leads to a more diverse perspective on the world, and the better we become at navigation the more insightful we can become.