Christchurch, New Zealand
What better way to understand culture than to live it! I traveled to Christchurch, New Zealand (located on the South Island) to work at the Accommodations Office (aka Residential Life office) at Lincoln University. Lincoln University is one of the smallest universities in New Zealand and hosts around 4,800 students (compared to the University of Otago, for instance, which enrolls 19,000 students). The majority of students are undergraduate (56%) and full-time (66%) while 15% are in postgraduate studies. Lincoln University is predominately a commuter-based campus, with only 10% of the student body living on campus. The majority of students commute from the nearby city of Christchurch, which is about 20 kilometers away.
While at Lincoln, I interviewed the Accommodations full-time staff and Resident Assistants to get an idea of what challenges and issues they faced in their jobs. I gathered themes based from these interviews and then I suggested recommendations based on my own experience in student affairs. The staff members at Lincoln were very receptive to what I had to say and appreciated an “outsider’s” perspective. In addition, I conducted a survey of international students to get a sense of their satisfaction with college life at Lincoln, which I presented to the Accommodations staff.
From my experience in New Zealand, I really gained an appreciation for this unique global understanding opportunity that BGSU offers in the HIED program. As university administrators, I think too often we put a Western “lens” on higher education issues that are being experienced globally. This experience helped me to acquire a more holistic perspective on higher education issues that will better prepare me as I acquire higher levels of responsibility in my profession.
I also sincerely appreciate the financial support I received from the Education Abroad office, Higher Education and Student Affairs, and Higher Education Administration Student organization (HEADS).