Featured Students

Kristopher Kagan

Personal Discovery

Cultural Discovery

I joined the University of Otago Harrier (track team). And just recently our team participated in New Zealand’s National Road Relay.

 
Semester Abroad: July 2009
Home University: American University
Host University: University of Otago
Major: Finance
 
 

What sport did you become involved in overseas?

For the last eight years of my life, I have been a competitive runner. But only in the last year have I figured out what running is all about. I have fallen in love with the sport again. Last summer I picked up a book called “Bowerman and the Men of Oregon”. In the book, Bill Bowerman, Oregon’s great track coach, goes to New Zealand and meets New Zealand’s great coach Arthur Lydiard.


Since last summer, I have been excited about the possibility of running in New Zealand. I wanted to learn how running is different there. I have joined the University of Otago Harrier (track team). And just recently our team participated in New Zealand’s National Road Relay. It was an amazing experience.
 

How did you find out about this opportunity?

Before I came to New Zealand, I researched various running clubs in the country. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in New Zealand and was out on a run with my friend, Thomas; he mentioned that I should come out and join the track team. He made me feel comfortable about joining.
 

How will you use this experience in your future professional endeavors?

I plan to one day coach cross country and this experience will help me do that. The knowledge I know now about the sport will surely help me help other young runners I coach succeed. It has taught me that in life, it is not about having the best material things but rather having the best mind set.
 

How did this experience help you adjust to life abroad?

Since I have been running for as long as I can remember, joining the team out here made me feel right at home. It also allowed me to get into a routine which really helped with sleeping, studying and eating patterns. Most importantly it allowed me to interact with some Kiwis and feel less as an outsider.
 
 

What cultural differences and similarities did you see as a result of this experience?

I keep saying that New Zealand’s culture is basically what America was in the 1960s and 70s. They have a free spirited way of life. People here are less concerned about times, lap splits, shoes, watches, distance and structure as they are with free running. On one end, their training is not as good as it could be, but on the other hand, they are enjoying it more. They are free running. They are running just for the sake of running.

 

What advice can you give to future students who are interested in being an active participant in their study abroad experience?

I would say to contact a local club and get running. It really is a great experience. It is much better having people to run with and a schedule to run on. It actually keeps you accountable. I would say I came here for running and I am leaving with satisfying that goal.

 
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