Alex Hart

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No castanets in New Zealand

No castanets in New Zealand

No castanets in New Zealand


I love projects. I think it is the satisfaction you get when the job is done and you can move on to something else. My family tend to be a little wary when I get excited about a new project. After we emigrated from the UK, my husband confessed that he was concerned – what on earth could I possibly come up with to top that?!

Over the last year or so my ‘project’ has been renovating our house and while it is far from being finished, almost all of the big tasks have been done and I am left with the time consuming things like painting woodwork and landscaping. My other project has been my university studies. As I neared the end of my diploma I realised that I desperately wanted to continue learning (spurred on by well marketed notes from Massey telling me that I should be proud of my achievements to date) and have converted to a BA, doing a double major in Spanish and History.

“What’s it all for?” One of my friends repeatedly asks. “How are you going to use your Spanish language when you finish?”

It seems a little self indulgent to say I am doing it “just because I can” and it has always been my intention to use my language skills either working or volunteering for short spells in South America as well as here (assuming such an opportunity arises). The reality however is that here in the far north there is little opportunity to practice my Spanish skills – other than on foreign hitchhikers. The two Argentinean backpackers I picked up recently probably wanted a quiet ride – instead, once I realised where they were from I gleefully spent the entire 45 minute journey practising my vocabulary on them.

As the house project nears its end though I have become increasingly more restless needing another new project to look forward to. The answer came almost immediately through university. Massey has various exchange projects it enters into with other countries. These range from studying at university in a foreign country for 1 or 2 semesters to providing teaching assistant opportunities in conjunction with the Spanish Government. ‘If only I could’ I thought. Then, as I thought about it more – ‘why couldn’t I?’

At first the opportunity to do a paid teaching assistant role somewhere in Spain seemed like a dream opportunity. However the project runs for 9 months and I am not sure my hubby and I could cope with the practicalities of being apart for such a prolonged period.

The other option was to study at a foreign university for 1 or 2 semesters in a variety of countries. This just seemed too good to be true. So after some investigation, I discovered that it really is quite easy to up sticks and study abroad for a while even at my age. So without further ado (and while hubby could still see that it might be manageable for him) I have completed the application and submitted it – to go and study in Madrid next year. A semester of Spanish language history and culture and perhaps even time to learn to play the castaƱuelas (castanets)

Who wouldn't love to spend time in this beautiful city?

Who wouldn’t love to spend time in this beautiful city?


I still have a selection process and an interview to go through, however the Massey staff seemed confident that my application will be successful so all I have to do now is cross my fingers and wait and see.

The journey is not over yet!

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