New study-abroad program introduces students to Aussie and Kiwi cultures
by Kathryn Hopper
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Topics: study abroad
by Kathryn Hopper
Not many classes combine a Maori haka dance, a tour of a Hobbit village and chowing down on kangaroo.
But this summer 15 TCU students experienced all that and more as they examined arts and entertainment in Australia and New Zealand as part of a new study-abroad program offered through the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media (FTDM).
“It was the most fun I’d had in years,” said Tricia Jenkins, assistant professor in FTDM, who directed the program with instructor Andy Haskett ’87 MA. “Some of the students went bungee jumping. It was so rewarding and fun. It was interesting to see the country through their eyes.”
Jenkins, who is married to an Aussie, was familiar with the country and was looking for a way to expose students to the nation’s unique film heritage and cultural offerings.
“All their media is in English so it’s very accessible, but because it’s on the other side of the world, it’s also culturally different,” she says.
Using insider connections, the students were able to visit the set of the Australian soap opera Neighbours during filming. They also toured the iconic Sydney Opera House and visited Hanging Rock, the massive rock formation that provided the setting for the film Picnic at Hanging Rock.
On the north island of New Zealand, students visited the town of Matamata, where they toured remnants of the original Hobbiton village set from The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The area is now preparing to film The Hobbit.
“They were building all the sets, so it was cool for students to see how that was coming together,” Jenkins says.
Also in New Zealand, students toured a sheep farm and visited the Mitai Maori village, learning about the tribe’s ta moko (tattoo art) and participating in a traditional haka dance.
Jenkins said students also enjoyed sampling the native cuisine, which included emu burgers, kangaroo fillets and “lots and lots of lamb.”
One thing that didn’t get rave reviews was a certain sandwich topping made famous in the song “Down Under” by the Australian group Men at Work.
“Some students tried Vegemite, but it was pretty disgusting,” she says.
For information, go to www.rtvfmediastudies.tcu.edu/Australia.htm.
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