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As the capital of New Zealand, Wellington (southern part of the North Island), or "Welly" for short, was voted by Lonely Planet as the "coolest little capital in the world," not too bad a title. Firstly, Wellington (as most of New Zealand) is beautiful to look at (Lord of the Rings anybody?). Bushy hillsides, rocky coastlines and a stunning harbor create the scenic view New Zealand is famous for. However, the vibrant, compact city is what differentiates it from the rest of New Zealand. Restaurants, bars, trendy cafes and art galleries line the middle of the city and are all within easy walking distance due to city's small size. If you like theater, music, dance, art, galleries, museums and most importantly, culture, Wellington is the place for you.
Whether it's exploring the surrounding nature New Zealand is so famous for, biking along the trails towards wineries and vineyards, or strolling through the city looking from boutique to museum, Wellington will give you a different experience every day.
Wellington is on the New Zealand dollar, which roughly translates to one US dollar. In addition, as the capital of New Zealand, you can expect prices to be a bit more expensive than the rest of New Zealand. Even so, if you've been living ok in the US, Wellington should pose no issue to your wallet. ATMs can be found all over Wellington, so cash withdrawal will not be a problem. Normally, withdrawing cash from inside the bank is a lot safer than the ATMs outside, but Wellington is a generally safe place, so you can do so without much risk.
New Zealand is a good distance away from the US. As a result, the experiences to be had here will be different, surprising and also rewarding. They do indeed speak English in New Zealand, but the distance and change can be daunting to some students. As such, be sure to pick a problem that caters to American students, so that you can be well informed of the cultural differences and avoid making a faux pas.
However, remember that you have your fellow students! If you're missing the long hours of studying and the obnoxiously loud people back in the US, well, then you're weird. On a more serious note, talk to your fellow peers! If you're experiencing some homesickness, there is every chance that they are as well. Don't be embarrassed if you need to talk to someone about home, it is completely normal and who knows, you may become even closer friends!
Wellington is well suited to walking due to its compact size. Unlike a Ho Chi Minh, the pedestrian atmosphere is friendly and safe. However, the bus system is extensive and will get you where you want. Taxis also run abound around Wellington, but be sure to check the fare rates before getting in.
Be sure to sample all the food Wellington has to offer! Cafes, Chinese cuisines, fine dining, fish and chips, Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Turkish, you name it and Wellington has it. It even has food tours as a testament to the diverse and delicious food Wellington has to offer.
All in all, Wellington offers a bit of everything you want: great food, a vivacious city and beautiful nature to top it all off. Now get on over to Wellington already!
If money is causing you problems in the US (as I'm assure it is as students...unfortunately), then it'll probably do the same abroad (if not more). Fear not! Here are a few scholarships.
Albert Ji is from Los Angeles, California and is currently a student at UC Berkeley. He enjoys basketball, music, Korean BBQ, chilling and putting a little flair into life.
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