Student Blogger Study Abroad

Two weeks to go! – Michaela on leaving New Zealand

Each semester, one student from each HECUA program abroad takes on the role of student blogger, sending regular dispatches from the field. Michaela Shea-Gander will be HECUA’s student blogger for the New Zealand program this spring semester. Michaela is a junior at Denison University, majoring in Communications with a narrative non-fiction concentration. Read on for Michaela’s third post, as she begins her internship in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.

What a busy month it has been! Though it seems like just yesterday that we arrived in Wellington, our time here is running out. It is hard to believe that in two short weeks, I will be back in the United States. I have been trying to experience all that I can in Wellington with such a short time left, but it’s difficult with our final papers due in a week! Fortunately, I have been able to find the time do fun activities, even though wrapping up with school work and internships has taken precedence. Last week, a few friends and I went to Matiu/Somes Island, a scientific and historic reserve. Here we were able to take in the views of Wellington and learn about the history of the island. We even saw a seal and a kākāriki! Even though it is fall in Wellington, the weather has luckily been nice and sunny recently.

Takahē bird

This past weekend, some of the students from Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design that we met back in February came to Wellington. It was nice to be able to reconnect in such a different space than where we met! They were able to come with us on a class visit to Zealandia, an eco-sanctuary. The goal of Zealandia is to protect and conserve New Zealand species and restore the biodiversity to the area. The two students from our group who intern at Zealandia led us in a day tour and a night tour later on. On the day tour, we encountered birds like the Takahē, Kākā, Pied Shag, and even a Pāteke and her ducklings. On the night tour, we saw a few tuatara, giant weta, glowworms, and most excitingly, kiwi! Though we only expected to see one if we were lucky, my group had four sightings.


For the past month, I have been working at my internship site, Conscious Consumers, three days a week. At this internship I was lucky enough to help them with their launch in the UK. At this internship I was able to gain marketing, communication, and sales experience while seeing what it would like to work at a small organization with a sustainable mission. On Fridays, we had multiple speakers visit our class, and community members were invited to these talks as well. Each of these talks had a different topic, such as peace, mana wahine, change, and water. The speakers included Chlöe Swarbrick, Marnie Prickett, Nicky Hager, Laura O’Connell Rapira, and Kaye-Maree Dunn, among others. At these talks, we got to meet New Zealanders who are implementing change in various ways and learn new perspectives.

Now that the program is coming to a close, our main focus is on finishing our final independent study projects. Mine is a research paper focusing on Māori women and activism, which has inspired me to learn more about the indigenous people who lived on the land that I am from back in the United States. Though the week ahead will be busy with work, during our final week we will stay in a retreat in Mikimiki Valley and have time to rewind and reflect before we go our separate ways.

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