Interview with Tommy Blanchard, University of Otago

Find out more about the study abroad experience at University of Otago in this interview with American Study Abroad student Tommy Blanchard. He is studying Media, Film & Communication at Maori Society.

What overseas university/college are you attending?

I am attending Hamilton College in Upstate New York.

What made you choose to Study Abroad at Otago?

Ever since I was a young kid I’ve wanted to come to New Zealand. I remember looking at maps in geography class in middle school and being drawn to it. It looked so mysterious to me, nestled down in the bottom right corner. I would look at it and think, “what the heck goes on over there?” So, I figured studying abroad here would be the perfect opportunity to finally find out first hand what this mysterious place was all about. I guess you could say I wanted to go on an adventure that my 11-year-old self would be proud of.

Which was your favourite Otago paper, and why?

My favorite paper was MFCO216 - New Zealand Cinema, because it was a unique class focused on a quite specific topic that I would most likely only be able to study in a classroom setting in New Zealand. I would definitely not be able to take anything like this paper back at my home school, and I’m sure that’s the case for most students studying at schools outside of New Zealand.


What was the value of taking MFCO216 in the context of your overall Study Abroad experience?

I knew close to nothing about New Zealand culture when I first came here, and was expecting that I would just learn about it on my own time outside of the classroom. However, not only was MFCO216 thought-provoking, engaging, and a lot of fun, but it was also extremely helpful for me as a student studying abroad in terms of learning about New Zealand culture. It allowed me to explore something completely new, and it helped me to become more immersed in New Zealand society.

How did taking MFCO216 help you understand NZ culture and society and why would you recommend this paper to other Study Abroad students?

I learned a lot about New Zealand culture from this class as a result of applying my love for film to the context of New Zealand society. Also, looking at New Zealand culture through this lens helped me adjust to culture shock and made me feel more in touch with and helped me to understand unique New Zealand cultural ideologies and identities. I feel this is invaluable to a student studying abroad.  

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