New Zealand: Finding myself in a land full of Kiwi's Past Review

By (Public Relations/ Sociology, Drake University) for

The Education Abroad Network (TEAN): Christchurch - University of Canterbury

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My quest to New Zealand began long before I packed my bulky suitcases, said farewells to family and friends, and boarded the plane in Los Angeles to leave the country. Thinking back to this time last year, I remember applying to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. It was six months until I departed but I felt the beginnings of nervousness and exciting butterflies in my stomach. Before I graduated from high school I made up my mind that I would study abroad somewhere during my time at my university. I was fortunate that I had traveled out of the country several times with my family to Mexico, Europe, Canada, and Costa Rica, which fostered my interest in different cultures and places throughout the world. I began looking at study abroad options at the end of the first semester of my freshman year. New Zealand was already on my mind as an option. It was important to me to go somewhere that would not just be culturally beneficial but also allow personal growth. So, I made the choice to travel to a country where I would not know anyone who lived there or was traveling there at the same time, and chose a city where no one from my university had studied. Making the choice to travel independently was worrisome as my departure date neared and the reality of my choice became clear. Many of my friends were studying abroad in Europe and Australia with friends, but reminding myself what I wanted out of my experience calmed my nerves. Once I arrived in New Zealand I engaged myself in activites to fufill my goals of studying abroad. I joined university tramping, kayaking and wine tasting clubs, took a Maori studies course and, when others in my program hung out with the “American bubble,” in the apartments where we lived I worked on making friends with “Kiwis.” By engaging myself in the culture of the place I was studying, I was learning a lot about myself without even realizing it. Because I worked to make friends with locals, I made life long friends with several native New Zealanders, and have fond memories of road trips, tramps, and “kiwi”- style parties. The experience is endless and something I would never trade.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program always had a director that lived in Australia and was on call 24/7 to help if you needed her. She would even fly and stay with you if you got sick.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I got the linen packet before arriving so that was waiting for me when I moved in. I lived with four other girls one American and three local. Throughout the complex there were many local and international students. The housing was a 5 min walk to campus, but a 10-15 min bus ride to town, however the University and surrounding area had fun restaurants and bars too.

* Food:

I prepared all of my own meals in my flat.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

In our orientation we learned about the indigenous Maori people as well as engaging in "kiwi" styles activities, learning their history, eating their foods.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

New Zealand is one of the safest places you could travel I always felt comfortable. The health center on campus was free for students.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Unanticipated expenses were numerous, from internet to phone bills to transportation cost.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The TEAN program was ideal in allowing me to make the study abroad experience uniquely mine. Knowing how nervous I was to travel to a country where I knew no one and discovering the benefits I gained while abroad has inspired me to encourage others to travel abroad with TEAN. TEAN allowed me to grow as a person in ways I probably would never have had if I hadn’t studied in New Zealand. The experience has nurtured my independence, broadened my outlook of different cultures, and encouraged me to include global communication in my future.