By Erin Gourley

North Dunedin has you in its clutches and you haven’t seen a big tree in a month. That’s a problem. There’s a whole wide world of nice things in Dunedin out there, just waiting for you to discover it.

I realise that you’re in the depths of first semester and you’re studying and partying and that’s your whole life.

Just think about the place you’re living in a little bit. North Dunedin is a pit, by all standards. There are no animals. There aren’t even verges on the side of the road. You’re starting to become vitamin D deficient and that’s only going to get worse as the year goes on. Seasonal depression is just around the corner.

What you need is very simple: to leave North Dunedin for a bit.

I don’t mean going home for Easter. I mean going out and exploring the place where you live, beyond the bounds of the University-Unipol-Botans triangle. There are 25 beaches in Dunedin and they’re all lot more scenic than walking along George Street to campus.

At any other point in your life, when you move to a town, you explore it. You go out and discover favourite cafes in weird parts of the town, your favourite place to go for a walk, your favourite beach.

But because Dunedin feels temporary for students, we don’t do that. We don’t explore. I didn’t leave North Dunedin more than five times in my first two years living here.

Being in a community of uni students has its benefits, but it’s severely limited. The places where students live are generally within a 5km radius, and that means we’re cut off from a broader sense of community.

It’s like we all live underground, having a good time, but in a strange way that’s divorced from the way other people live. That’s why people treat students as zoo animals and there’s always such a sense of wow, look what they’re doing now.

That temporary feeling means that North Dunedin is a wasteful place to live. We don’t buy furniture that’s gonna last because we’re only going to be here for three years or so. Instead, we buy new stuff from the Warehouse and throw it away when we leave, or when we move to a flat that doesn’t need it. We have no sense of community beyond our friends and flatmates, who are in the same situation, so there’s no one with a permanent address to offload furniture onto.

Living in this environment distorts your view. It’s hard to get perspective on sustainability or environmental issues when you’re only in the city, surrounded by this culture of buying things and throwing them away in an endless cycle.

So leave North Dunedin. To get some perspective. Remind yourself why it’s important to recycle or save water. To realise that your studies aren’t the be all and end all of the world, and that other things are important too.

This was originally the editorial in Critic Te Arohi Issue 5, 2021.

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