Before arriving in New Zealand the staff at ISA helped keep me organized with all of the documents required to go overseas for the semester. They were definitely really good at making sure things were in on time too, and they were super flexible and understanding when situations came up. There was also a resource pack provided before going abroad that was filled with helpful tips, even what streets to go to when exploring Wellington! I felt prepared because of how much information ISA provided prior to my travels.
When I first arrived to the Auckland airport there was someone from ISA waiting with a sign to direct all of the students to the right place, which made me feel very comfortable from the start. The trip started in Auckland for a “Bridging Cultures” portion. Basically, we all spent the first few days together exploring Auckland and Rotorua while adjusting to our new “home,” New Zealand. It was a great bonding experience that I truly will remember for a lifetime. After this ended we finally made our way down to Wellington, where I was studying for the semester.
Upon arriving in New Zealand we then started to get to know our University. Once we were all settled in we started having occasional “excursions” that are included in the ISA program price. Our first excursion was a seal coast safari, it was super exciting and I developed a newfound love for New Zealand fur seals! Other excursions included a sleepover at the Wellington zoo, a private tour of the weta workshop, and a visit to Matiu/Somes Island. Our ISA Resident Director (RD) is the person who set all of these excursions up and went on them with us, she was also the person we could go to if we needed anything. ISA also provided us with a 24 hour free emergency line, that I thankfully never had to use (but it’s good to know it was an option). They definitely offered a lot of support while we were there and were really understanding with culture shock and all of that good stuff (they even educated us on how to deal with it).
When we were all getting ready to depart we had a nice goodbye dinner purchased by ISA and it was a good chance to see everyone together one last time before heading home. Our RD also made sure she knew everyones travel plans to be sure she knew when we were supposed to be leaving and going home.
After arriving back home I have received emails from ISA checking up on how everything was and informing me on more opportunities they offer for going abroad for things such as internships and service-learning. My RD also sent me a nice email saying goodbye and that she’s always here if I need anything. ISA has also kept me up-to-date on my transcript and when it should arrive at my home University and they provided us with alumni resources which include ways to develop a professional profile for my study abroad experience.