Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh Right, I'm Really Here to Study

I haven't mentioned classes in quite some time, so here's an update, just so you believe me when I say I went to New Zealand for study abroad...

Somehow it is Sunday night and next weekend marks the beginning of our two week break or "teaching recess" - which must be named as such because the teachers get a "recess," while we still have work to do. I have two assignments due during the break, and needless to say I will
not be doing any work while I am traveling down to the South Island, so I am trying to get it all done before we leave.

Speaking of the break... we have finalized our plans! Erika and I will be flying into Christchurch, followed soon after by Sam, who will join us there, and down to Dunedin (after picking up our rental car of course). From Dunedin, Sam will fly back to Auckland, and we will drive west to Queenstown, where we will grab Gabe from the airport, who will complete the loop with us, back up the west coast and then cutting east across the mountain pass, back to Christchurch to fly home again. We are SO excited that Sam and Gabe will be coming! Ironically, we made friends with the two people who are not allowed to leave campus at the same time, seeing as they are the two Senior R.A.s and one of them must be on duty during break at all times... BUT, after several hours of debating various scenarios and coordinating elaborate car swaps (since each flying from the North Island also involves making the two-hour drive from Hamilton to Auckland ), we have found a way to make it work! Epic adventure here we come!!! :) Don't worry boys, we'll only make you listen to country music every other song or so.

Back to academic talk...
I've been enjoying all of my classes. In my Public Relations Cases paper we have learned several theoretical frameworks for analysing PR cases, ranging from a functionalist approach, which examines PR in terms of how it works as part of an organisation to help achieve corporate goals, to interpretive or cultural perspectives, involving the use of rhetoric to influence public opinion or analysing how culture affects an organisation and vice versa, and critical perspectives, which take into account power roles and the socio-political impacts of PR. I have given one presentation (with a partner), on the New Zealand Football (soccer) association's PR tactics, and have two more before the end of the semester. Also, we have a reflective journal on all of the course readings and cases we've discussed due this upcoming week.

We are progressing slowly in my Public Relations Campaigns class, moving from the abstract brainstorming phase to actual, hands-on research/interviews about the organisation and its target publics, in order to pick a direction and strategy to guide our campaign. I had wanted to do some volunteer work while in NZ, so, after learning more about the organisation, I'm actually going in tomorrow morning to volunteer for Parent to Parent, assisting with some PR materials for their upcoming event, a debate and dinner
fundraiser. Also, when I return from the break, I will be volunteering as a marshal for a local fun run, from which all proceeds will go to Parent to Parent.

The first test in my International Relations class is also approaching next Thursday, so I have some studying to do. Seeing as I only have two tests in that class and one essay, I need to make them count.

I will leave you with a fun video I discovered while reading for my PR cases class. One article consisted of a case analysis of the unique New Zealand vodka brand 42 Below, examining how it uses humor, a cool, laid-back, Kiwi tone, especially on its web site, and also implies high quality, capitalizing on New Zealand's image of pristine beauty. This short viral ad is very silly and presents a fictitious story of how 42 Below was created. It incorporates a lot of Kiwi cultural jokes... watch it and see if you catch any from what I've mentioned on this blog.

If you're keen, watch it once more to catch the references below...
  • The red and yellow bee that flies across the upper right-hand corner of the screen at about 16 seconds in, is the Buzzy Bee - the most famous New Zealand children's toy, created in 1948.
  • New Zealand is known for its yachts and prowess in sailing competitions. The Americas Cup yacht that sails down the river in the beginning looks like ones you'll see displayed by the waterfront in Auckland - the City of Sails.
  • The copper distilleries carved from ancient kauri trees is a joke, referencing the NZ kauri tree, considered sacred to the Maori, the largest of which, protected in the Waipoua Forest Reserve of the Northland is 43 ft in girth, estimated to contain 90,000 ft. of sawn timber, and named "Tane Mahuta," meaning "the god of the forest." Kauri are the largest native tree, growing over 200 ft, and also the oldest, maturing at about 2000+ years. Swamp kauri is still carved today. It has a natural sheen because it is found buried amongst mineral deposits underground.
  • Exchanging the vodka for muskets refers to the brutal, Maori inter-tribal Musket Wars, between 1818 and 1833, during which tens of thousands of Maori massacred one-another with the muskets introduced by European settlers. Northern tribes, being the first to obtain the weapon from traders in the Bay of Islands, immediately sought "utu" (revenge) with enemy tribes who had not yet seen the musket.
  • "Stat-ue bro?!" - sounds like "Is that you bro" in the accent... haha just in case you're slow on the uptake :)
  • And finally, all the references to New Zealand being part of Australia, play on Kiwi resentment that many foreigners know nothing about this beautiful country, only that it's near (or maybe part of?) Australia.


  1. We're glad you cleared up the "study" abroad question. PR rocks! Now have you tried the 42 below? And is it as smooth as they say? Have a great holiday, cheers, KB

  2. Haha no I have not actually.. though I've seen that they have some fun flavors like Kiwifruit, Feijoa, Passion fruit, so I'll have to let you know :)