This is the college experience I wish I had
Who wouldn’t want to study in Narnia?
As a child, I was forced to read The Chronicles of Narnia. My mother, with every good intention, bought book after book from the series thinking her daughter had fallen in love with the characters. Little did she know that I faked every bit of it. In size, the books were small, the font even smaller. And for me, the rich narrative felt more like a drag. More so when I knew I could instead be pretending to be Mowgli in the garden with my dogs.
But watching The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe on the big screen was a whole different experience. I fall somewhere in the middle of the book vs visual adaptation debate. The Narnia films had my heart. The rich green landscape and rolling hillsides made my jaw drop to the floor. You’d think as a pre-teen, I would have been slightly smarter, but staring into every open cupboard, a part of me still hoped I could somehow stumble into this magical world.
My heart swelled when I learnt that I didn’t need to scratch through wooden closets. Narnia was a plane ride away in idyllic New Zealand.
If you’re picturing icy glaciers, untouched mountainscapes, stunning coastlines and beaches, and vast plains dotted with bleating sheep, you’re not wrong – New Zealand has all it all. But it’s also grown to be one of the safest and most multicultural nations in the world.
The fact that Jacinda Arden exists alone is reason enough for me to want to fulfil my Narnia dreams. The youngest Prime Minister of New Zealand at 37, Arden shone as a leader when staring down adversity time and again, proving that you can be kind and powerful at the same time. Arden being a role model to countless young girls around the world has more of them contemplating a University experience in the nation that’s nurtured such exceptional women.
Growing up in North India, the many eyeballs that tracked your every step while being outdoors made me acutely aware of the fact that I was a woman. I received a good education but it always felt a little limited. You moved in and out of the same building every day. If you wanted to do anything outdoorsy, it would have to be in the evening when the sweltering sun had set. That too, with blinders on to shut out the male gaze capturing your every move. We moved in packs. There was safety in numbers, and like an extreme version of Cinderella, we’d rush home before nightfall.
Studying in New Zealand would have meant living in one of the safest and most welcoming countries in the world, especially for women. And also getting to soak up the knowledge from eight universities that are ranked among the top 3% in the world.
As parents, what makes New Zealand a great place to study for your child, other than internationally top-ranked universities, a first-ranked education system among English-speaking countries, and the comparatively low cost of living – compared to other popular study-abroad hotspots like London and New York – is the peace of mind knowing that there are low crime rates and laws that stridently protect women from assault and harassment.
Along with anti-discrimination laws and gender pay equity formalised by the legal system, Education New Zealand (ENZ), a New Zealand government agency, is also working on scholarship programmes for young women seeking educational opportunities in the country.
If you’re curious about the opportunities that await you on the idyllic but modern island nation, ENZ is hosting its first-ever international women’s summit, Women of the Future, on March 8 in celebration of International Women’s Day. The summit is bringing together women achievers from New Zealand and India to share their experiences and learnings to serve as footsteps for the next generation of young women to realise their full potential.
You’ll get to hear from Priyanca Radhakrishnan, New Zealand’s first member of parliament of Indian origin; Lisa Futschek, general manager international, ENZ; former diplomat and award-winning business and public sector leader Ziena Jalil; the principal of Sri Venkateswara College, professor C Sheela Reddy; Ainslie Moore, director international, University of Auckland; educational activist Swati Popat Vats, president, Podar Education network. There will be special talks from Tashi and Nungshi Malik on ‘Scaling New Heights’ and Malini Agarwal on ‘Breaking Barriers’.
Popularly known as the Everest twins, Tashi and Nungshi Malik are the first siblings to climb the Seven Summits, reach the North and South Poles, complete the Adventurers Grand Slam and Three Poles Challenge. The New Zealand scholarship awardees were conferred India’s highest honour for adventure sports, the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award by former President Pranab Mukherjee in 2016.
Malini Agarwal, popularly known by her online moniker Miss Malini, is a digital media entrepreneur, influencer and author. She’ll be talking about breaking barriers in the digital space.
After all, who wouldn’t want to study in Narnia?
The summit will take place on Tuesday, March 8 from 10 AM to 11:30 AM IST. To register and find out more information you can click here.