New Zealand held a romanticized position in my mind as a paradise of natural wonders. I have always considered myself outdoorsy but going to college in upstate New York really limited my outdoors time. When I realized New Zealand was an option for study abroad I jumped at the chance to honor my true nature (literally.)
Sadie is about to graduate this coming spring and is looking forward to a bit of freedom (and travel!) before continuing her education in the near future.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My program assisted me with documents to apply for my visa (although I applied on my own.) They also obtained class syllabuses for me so that I could apply for credit transfer with my university. As for general questions, they were available throughout the entire process and I emailed them (at least weekly) with great success. All housing information was taken care of through the IES website; the website also provided tutorials for all the necessary steps.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Pack light! I promise you, you will not need half of the things you think you need when you are packing. Bring a good camera and upon arrival splurge for the good phone plan so that calling home is a feasible option (I know I was super jealous of my friends whose phone plans allowed them to call back home).
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
I think my schedule was fairly light in comparison (I only had classes Monday-Wednesday) but usually most of my friends had classes at least Monday-Thursday with an average of two classes a day- classes here were usually 50 minuets. In between classes we would meet up to get coffee or food; the campus vegan club did these amazing $5 vegan lunches so we would go to those religiously.
In the afternoon, a lot of my friends were involved with clubs that would have an event at least weekly (like rock climbing etc.) I would go to the gym daily which was right on campus and super easy to navigate. Then depending on the day we would either meet up for dinner or to study in the evenings.
On some night we would go out and explore the city's nightlife. On most every weekend, we would have a trip planned to one of New Zealand's epic adventures and we would be gone Friday-Sunday exploring the countryside and basking in the wonders available.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was terrified to meet all the new people and be alone in a country without any of my friends. Making friends has never been a comfortable position for me and especially knowing I was going to be older than everyone (I went abroad as a senior) was daunting.
I had plans on how to overcome it; be more outgoing, force myself out of my comfort zone, sign up for clubs etc. As it turns out, I didn't even need to. IES quickly gathered all our the students on our program up and wen't above and beyond to unite us as a team. It was through my program (IES) that I made my close group of friends and together we navigated the new and exciting adventures we were exposed to.
I guess what I didn't realize coming in was that the qualities of New Zealand that attracted me would be shared among everyone else who was also coming to New Zealand. In this sense, although everyone I was with was quite different than I was, we shared similar passions which made social connections easy.
Write and answer your own question.
I think I would just like to share some more general tips I gathered from my time here:
- Coffee is really expensive in New Zealand so curb your caffeine addiction before coming and your wallet will thank you.
- Eating out can also be expensive but the grocery stores (countdown!!) are comparable so learn how to cook for yourself (also this is just good practice for life.)
- Make sure you keep doing the things that make you feel like you are not even in a new place. I know, for me, this was running and working out regularly just like at home but I'm sure it is different for everyone.
- Although this may just apply for the fall semester in New Zealand, bring a rain-jacket with you EVERYWHERE. I don't care if the weather says sunny all day, it will rain at some point I promise.
- Bring a sleeping bag and hiking backpack if you have one. Chances are you will need one and they are so expensive to buy here in New Zealand.