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What Does Studying Abroad in New Zealand Say About You?

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When that study abroad fair rolled around to town, you turned your back on tables showcasing more classic study abroad destinations. Those large posters of students posing together in front of the Big Ben in London, or picnicking next to the Seine in Paris didn’t lure you in.

You signed yourself up for a summer / semester / year studying in a rugged Pacific island better known for its role as the backdrop of the Lord of the Rings films than its world class educational system.

No, you wanted more out of your study abroad experience and headed straight for that New Zealand booth. You signed yourself up for a summer / semester / year studying in a rugged Pacific island better known for its role as the backdrop of the Lord of the Rings films than its world class educational system. So, dear study abroad student, what on earth does that say about you exactly? Good things, very good things -- we promise!

1. You Want a Unique Study Abroad Destination

If you’ve chosen to study abroad in New Zealand, you probably thought "I want to study abroad somewhere different" at some point or another. Sure, a year in England or semester spent in Spain is nothing to stick your nose up at, but it’s just not for you. In 2008 -- 2009, 31,342 American study abroad students left home to study abroad in England, whereas only 2,769 opted for New Zealand (source: Wikipedia). You want to be one of those pioneers.

In general, you'd prefer to get off the beaten path and explore somewhere you know less about. You want to hop on a 14-hour flight and travel to the other end of the world. You want to be surprised, to discover. When you come home, you want people to say "oh wow!" instead of "me too!" when you tell them where you studied abroad.

For you, immersing yourself the "unfamiliar" is what traveling and studying abroad is all about!

2. But You Still Prefer Your College Education in English, Thanks

Even so, you never studied enough Chinese to tackle an intern-and-study-program in Beijing, and the thought of re-learning French grammar tenses to spend a summer in Senegal makes your head spin. Maybe, you’ve never really been that great at languages anyway, or you are good at languages but a year of total immersion wouldn't meet your study abroad goals.

Obviously, that’s OK. We can’t all be born Spanish majors, right? Which is why even while spending a semester abroad, you’d prefer to keep your college education in English, thank you very much. Especially since…

3. Quality of Education is Important to You

For you, study abroad isn’t just about the weekend getaways to exotic locale or to be instantly transported into a place where you’re of legal drinking age. Sure, a beer or two at the local pub sounds great, but you’re here to actually study and learn about your new host country, not to party.

You're still serious about your college education and understand study abroad is so not the same as spring break

You’re studying abroad in New Zealand because you care about the quality of your education. You want to come away from this experience having felt challenged by your courses. Even if you’re working on a pass/fail system, you’re still serious about your college education and understand study abroad is so not the same as spring break (even if your BFF’s Instagram feed from HER study abroad in Barcelona might make it seem that way…)

Fortunately, all of New Zealand’s universities meet high standards and are internationally recognized, but you already knew that you Google-savvy-guru you.

4. You’re Laid-back

You’re not in this to party or hyperactively check off European countries in a 5-month span. To you, a crowded, bustling city like London sounds fine -- for a weekend. You’d rather have a slower paced, laid back lifestyle since you yourself are a relaxed personality.

Fortunately for you, so are Kiwis, As Anna Langer, an American student who spent a year abroad in NZ with AIFS attests, "The people are so kind and life moves at a more enjoyable pace. They work to live not live to work. They make life outside of career important."

And she’s not the only one to say so -- oodles of expats in New Zealand have said "New Zealanders are the friendliest people in the world", which you think is awesome since, you'll need some new friends once you land!

5. You’re an Adventurous Traveler

Okay, okay, we may have been fibbing a little bit when we said you weren’t concerned with weekend getaways to new and exciting places -- because, even if education is a priority for you, you’re still a traveler. And an adventurous one at that!

Your bucket list includes daredevil-esque feats like bungee jumping, cave spelunking, and zip lining. Your idea of a great weekend getaway likely means a three-day trip full of skiing, kayaking, or trekking through remote mountain ranges.

You want to work for your discoveries and see the world from every angle possibly (including upside-down, aerial-view, or from the inside of a ball while Zorbing down a hill... eh, what?!?).

Which is why you chose New Zealand. This nation packs in a lot for an island roughly the size of Colorado, and even if you opt for a full year abroad, you’ll never fit it all in -- although, you’ll darn well try!

As study abroad student Aaron Jawson describes, "I was able to find adventure nearly every day whether it was in the city of Auckland or out in the bush; there was never a dull moment in New Zealand." We know, we know: you’re thinking "perfect!"

6. You Like the Outdoors

If you could spend every moment outside, you would. Being outside, whether it’s soaking up sun by the ocean or hiking through an alpine forest, is one of the things that makes you happiest in life.

You want to work for your discoveries and see the world from every angle possibly.

Which is why you wanted a study abroad destination that wouldn’t keep you cooped up inside all day. You wanted experiential learning and weekends spent hiking.

Again, Anna says, "I think most people chose New Zealand because of its hiking and adventure opportunities." You’re one of them.

7. Science and Conservation Get Your Nerd Neurons Buzzing

And, while we’re on the topic. You don’t just love the outdoors, you love learning about it too. If you're packing your bags to spend a semester in New Zealand, there’s a good chance you’re majoring or minoring in environmental studies, science, or conservation.

But even if you’re not, it’s still an area of study that you’re interested in. As Laura Quist, who studied through ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand says, "It is definitely an ideal place to study if you are studying the environment, but it has some excellent people in the departments that I studied in as well, like Gender and Sociology."

And hey, even business majors have to know a little sumpin’ sumpin’ about the natural world in order to graduate. What better place to get those science Gen Ed credits taken care of than one of the most beautiful and environmentally diverse nations on the planet?

8. You DO Want Your City Fix Too

Nature. Outdoors. Adventure.

All this is great, but you’re not shy to admit that you also love a good cup of coffee and have been drooling over all the delicious brunches you'll be having in Wellington.

So, while you’re surely daydreaming of all the fantastic things there are to see out and about the New Zealand countryside, you’re also excited for those lazy weekends in Wellington (nicknamed “the coolest little capital in the world”), Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin or where-have-you chatting it up with your new, super friendly, Kiwi friends.

After all, you'll need some great things to do in between or after classes as well!

9. You Want a Global Edge

We could easily say this about any study abroad student, but New Zealand has a particularly strong emphasis on globally focused education. As the folks in New Zealand's ministry of education would say, "Our higher education system is on the leading edge of current trends and up-to-date with what’s happening globally."

You may be in the middle of the Pacific, but out of the loop? Definitely not.

So there you have it, you laid-back-super-nerdy-adventure-traveler-you! Our insight on what your decision to study abroad in New Zealand says about you.

Now, get off your computer (ahem, after you share this, naturally) and get back to studying or planning a rafting trip with your friends, because, you’re probably itching to get offline and outside anyway. Right? Yeah nah? We thought so...

Photo Credits: Anna Langer, Fox Glacier, and Devon Barone

Jessie Beck
A Washington DC native, Jessie Beck studied in Dakar and Malta, taught in Costa Rica, and volunteered with the Peace Corps in Madagascar before ending...
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