One piece of advice I would give someone going on my program would be to take full advantage of your free time. I stayed in Wellington, New Zealand right in the heart of downtown, so there was always something to do or another thing to explore. There are also a lot of different transit systems like the bus, train, or ferry to take you to another city on the North Island or down to the South Island.
My favorite excursion in New Zealand was the trip I took to Taupo with one of my flatmates. My boss had recommended I see Taupo before flying home so my friend and I reserved a rental car and took the five-hour drive. We got to see thermal craters, see Maori rock carvings, and even swim in a natural hot spring.
An average week as a participant in my program was a little different than a traditional internship because dance studios typically are only open in the evenings.
Monday-Friday I would typically take a bus to work around 2:30 pm and arrive at work around 3 pm. I would help with class warm-ups, work on studio paperwork and admin duties, and teach a few classes with my day ending around 8 pm.
Occasionally, I would come in for work on the weekends, but typically only when we had an upcoming show or competition.
Going into my experience abroad, my biggest fear was feeling anxious about changing my lifestyle. It scared me that I wouldn't have a car, so I would have to depend on public transportation and I would be moving to an unfamiliar area. I overcame these fears by learning more about the transportation system, asking questions, and leaving the apartment more often so I could get to know my surroundings.
My views on the issue changed when I started to step out of my comfort zone and adjust to living somewhere brand new. With the help of my friends and coworkers encouraging me to explore Wellington and other parts of New Zealand, I became less fearful and more confident in traveling around a new place.
One of my favorite stories was when I traveled with the dance studio to Palmerston North for a big national dance competition. I was a chaperone in one of the cabins with a few of the students and it was so much fun getting to know them outside of the dance studio. They had so much they wanted to know about American culture and I had so much I wanted to know about Kiwi culture.
The next day the dance team woke up and I got to help with hair and makeup and getting everyone ready for their big competition day. After everyone was ready, I got to see the team perform their dance and cheer them on. It was such a fun experience with the studio and great bonding experience with the students and staff.