ASU students explore New Zealand's culture in 'Lord of the Rings' journey, one of many at today's Study Abroad Fair
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“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off toBilbo Baggins says this to his nephew, Frodo, in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.".”
For 17 Arizona State University students, they found themselves swept off to Middle-earth on a study abroad trip to New Zealand — and just like the characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale, there was plenty of adventure.
Their journey included a visit to Hobbiton and Frodo’s home; a snowy climb on Mount Doom; swordplay; and plenty of “Lord of the Rings” lines being recited.
And just like the fellowship of the ring, this band of travelers came from a variety of backgrounds — not dwarves and elves, of course, but film studies majors, aerospace engineers, economics majors, even a few online students from outside Arizona.
It's one of more than 250 ASU programs in 55-plus countries that will be showcased at today's Study Abroad Fair in Tempe. ASU's robust programs range from aero-mechanics in England to wildlife-program sustainability in South Africa, from earthquake resilience in Nepal to a taste of the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, from tropical field biology in Panama to entrepreneurship in Israel — not to mention language immersion and academic programs the world 'round.
ASU's strength in study abroad is receiving national notice: In the "Open Doors" report released today by the independent non-profit Institute of International Education, ASU is ranked in the top 25 of universities awarding credit for study abroad, ranked by student total.
The official purpose of the 22-day New Zealand trip is to study the film industry, said Michael Green, a senior lecturer in film and media studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the trip’s faculty leader. But they try to diversify the experience for non-film majors with explorations of New Zealand’s peoples and natural resources.
Hobbits and wizards, however, remained firmly in the spotlight this summer.
“There was a lot of quoting of the movies and a lot of (excitement) over being in Middle-earth,” said Joshua Cannatelli, a sophomore film and media studies major from Phoenix.
They visited museums — “a LOT of history,” according to Green — film archives, and Weta Workshop in Wellington, and the students attended movie screenings and film lectures at two universities on such topics as the economics of film.
The group also covered a lot of land. Green points out that this was a traveling trip, unlike the usual study abroad in which students stay in one location.