Well, classes have ended. It is officially the month of final exams and I thought I would take some time to reflect on the three classes I took at Otago: Maori Society, Anzac Legacy, and Genes, Chromosomes, and Populations.

I did not know New Zealand had such a strong aboriginal background. Not only that, but I was not aware that the Maori people had their own traditions, language, and customs. In this class, I learned about all three of those, along with their social and political struggles. This class taught me a lot about the Maori traditions, but also about the hardships they faced. A lot of the material was similar to Native Americans because Maori were also forced off their land and discriminated against.

Taking a history class in New Zealand was very interesting. I got to hear the side of the Oceania story versus just the American and European versions. This class focused on World War I, which I had not known much about beforehand. Usually I had studied the Civil War, American Revolution, and World War II. It was great to learn about something new as well as get a different perspective on a big part of world history.

Genes, Chromosomes, and Populations was your average Genetics class, but some lectures focused on New Zealand issues which was awesome. I got the chance to research some hereditary diseases of New Zealand, and completed cool labs such as deciphering DNA from fingerprints. I am happy this class transfers as Genetics to St. Norbert, but despite that, I am glad I got to take it here and learn some different things on top of the general material.

Overall, my semester has been amazing. Classes were interesting which made it easier to want to attend. Although finals are 50-70% of my grade, we get a month to study for them, and luckily for me I got a good exam schedule. I am looking forward to being done with exams, but not looking forward to going home just yet!

Monica Dzwonkowski is studying abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.