A year of adventure

00:30, Dec 24 2012
SIT globbal campus
New partnerships: The sun sets over skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I'm pondering whether one experiences the equivalent of dog years at SIT. Even though I've been here for one year, it feels more like seven.

But despite my fast greying temples and general wrinklification (that's totally a word), the year has certainly been interesting.

Just over a year ago I was choking on pollution in Beijing and getting almost killed on a daily basis thanks to overly confident drivers with limited driving skills.

New Zealand may not be as 100% Pure as we claim, but it's certainly cleaner than many destinations across Asia. Here a pocket of green stands in contrast to the concrete urban jungle of Jakarta, Indonesia.

Since then I've choked on pollution right across Asia and almost got killed on a fairly frequent basis thanks to poor transport choices - my own overly confident jet-lagged driving included. (My apologies go out to fellow Southland drivers).

So since nothing much has really changed, it turns out I'm living proof that you can be a year older but not necessarily a year wiser.

Despite - or perhaps due to - my lack of wisdom, it has been a year of adventure. I've been almost killed by a train in Indonesia, run drugs Bridget Jones-style in the Philippines, sought love in Rio de Janeiro and experienced a rock star life in India.


And let's not forget when I externalised my inner whinger for that infamous article about Qantas that went semi-viral but which still hasn't elicited a satisfactory response - in my humble opinion, anyway.

Perhaps the best response to that column was by a work colleague who said she had once got her bags lost for three days in Africa.

"Oh, really?" I asked, waiting with bated breath for a story of epic drama and intrigue.

"Yeah," she said, "and you didn't see me write an article in the newspaper about it."

Fair cop.

Yet it's not all high-stakes half deaths and travel delays in exotic locales around the world. Along the way I've even managed to do some work. Truly.

With the rest of the team, we've expanded our representative network, developed new partnerships in Europe and Asia and generally charmed the socks off people around the world with our Southern hospitality.

Our efforts are paying off. This year SIT hosted a record number of international students: 626 in fact, from 42 different countries.

Given our country's location it's unsurprising that most of our students hail from Asia. China and India top the list, with students from 14 other countries in Asia, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Pakistan and South Korea.

Perhaps more surprising is the fact that over a 10th of our international student body comes from Europe. And we have the Americas, the Pacific, the Middle East and Africa represented on campus too.

This growing global community provides great opportunities for Southland. Not just in the economic benefits that local businesses and landlords enjoy, but also in the opportunities it provides us to learn about the world at large.

As our economy becomes increasingly dependent on exports, businesses will require staff with well-developed global competencies to thrive. So it would benefit us to learn from the international students we host; about their cultures, religions, languages and perspectives.

As for my global (in)competencies, this was also a year in which I rendezvoused with Jane Fonda in Vietnam, explored the finer details of my life insurance policy in Tibet and became a TV talk show star in China.

But, like a biannual Shortland Street summer cliffhanger, you'll have to wait until the end of January for those stories.

Till then, have a great Christmas break and I'll see you in 2013. You never know, I might even be just a little bit wiser by then. But since I'll be celebrating my birthday at New Year's before then, I wouldn't hold out much hope.


SIT's international students hail from 42 countries: Afghanistan Argentina Bangladesh Belgium Brazil British Solomon Islands Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Canada Chile China Columbia Czech Republic Estonia Fiji France Germany Hungary India Indonesia Iran Ireland Japan Malaysia Mongolia Nepal Netherlands Norway Pakistan Philippines Russian Federation South Africa South Korea Sri Lanka Switzerland Thailand Tonga United Kingdom United States of America Uruguay Vanuatu Vietnam

The Southland Times