I participated in BCA’s New Zealand summer study abroad program and it was so exciting! I gained insight into many things including a different culture, way of life, food, and views my home country. Learning about the Kiwis in New Zealand and how they lived was such an eye-opener. They speak English, but with a heavier accent. Well, at least I thought so! It was so cool to hear everyone around me tell me I was the one with the accent.
While in New Zealand, I was involved with many activities. My goal was to complete as much community service as I could while I was there. To start, I collected pine cones on a farm during one of my homestays to help raise money for a youth group fundraiser. I also volunteered a few days one week to help run exercise classes for cardiac rehabilitation patients and patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This was exciting to see how hard they push themselves even if they cannot do much at all. All of these experiences enhanced not only my resume but help me in the nursing field!
Aside from service, I traveled to Queenstown two long weekends in a row. This was one of my favorite parts of NZ, so I went twice! I went one time through my course and one time on my own – each time with a different group of friends! Queenstown is the home of all the extreme sports. We went sky diving, bungee jumping, hiking and jet boating. We also took a gondola ride up the mountain and luge down, as well as jumped from the Nevis Swing.
On another trip, I went to Tunnel Beach. It is right near campus and was one of the prettiest things I have ever seen. You can stand right on the edge of a cliff and look straight down into the water under you. There is a tunnel you walk down and it brings you onto the beach below the cliff. It is hard to explain in words how amazing this experience was.
One of my favorite parts of New Zealand was seeing all the seals and sea lions on the beaches. They walk right up from out of the ocean and go lay down in the sand. It was such a cool experience!
Another great memory is my first rugby game. It was an incredible time! Those men are so much tougher than the football players are here in the states!
I found the food in New Zealand was healthier than in the states. For every meal, I had different vegetables, rice and some type of meat. A LOT of vegetables, which was nice to be eating so healthy.
You’ll Walk Everywhere!
In New Zealand, they walk everywhere. An hour walk, no problem! Plus, they usually only have one car per family and share it. But the University of Otago is right in the middle of everything so the walking distance from the University to anywhere in the city was a very short walk. This was so nice because anything we wanted to do or anywhere we wanted to go was only a short walk to get there. It was very refreshing and eye-opening to see how energy efficient and green everyone was in all aspects of daily living. Also, the people of New Zealand are so much less materialistic than the people in the US. Their focus is more about enjoying every day to the fullest with friends. This was one of my favorite things about New Zealand.
BCA Wellington Excursion
The last week of my trip, I got to see what living in North Island of New Zealand. Each day in Wellington, we toured the city, went hiking, visited many museums, and more!
New Zealand Study Abroad Program – It’s Worth It!
Now that I am home, it is really hard to stop talking about my trip. I had such a wonderful time I just wish everybody could go experience what I was able to. Looking back, I am so happy I went and left with no regrets. It was worth all the paperwork, money and long plane rides! I am so lucky to have met the students that go to school there, because we still talk about the fun times we all had together. If I could do it all over again, I would do it right now.
GO ABROAD! Just do it and go! Enjoy every second! I cannot stress enough how much you will love the experience. If you are on the fence and debating whether or not to study abroad because of money, homesickness, or scared of not liking it, just go. You will have no regrets and love every second about being abroad.
For any students traveling abroad, or thinking about traveling abroad here are a few tips!
- Go into the process with an open mind and keep it open during the entire journey. You will experience cultural differences and see different things that you are not expecting. This makes the experience that much more exciting. If you have an open mind you will get so much more out of your experience. You can truly live the life of another culture and be able to share these experiences when you get home.
- Second, do not be scared or nervous to talk to people and make great connections! Many of the international students were from all over the States. There were also a few from other countries all over the world. By talking to a few of the students who went to the University of Otago in NZ, I became great friends with many Kiwis, which led to meeting so many more students. Today, I still keep in contact with many of them and we all plan on meeting up again this summer maybe in NZ or maybe in a different country! Becoming such great friends with them led to more trips, and adventures they took me on. If it was not for them, I probably would not have seen as much as I was able to. I also met a wonderful elder couple on a homestay trip in the Catlins. This was one of my favorite parts, because I really got a different view of Maori (their natives) culture. I still keep in touch with this couple today.
- Last, make the most of every single day. You will be amazed at how fast the journey will go. Every day, I was up early and did not go to bed until late at night. My group decided to adventure as much as we could so we were able to do everything that we wanted in the short month we had. Even though it was tiring at times, I was able to recoup my sleep on the flights home and knew I had the best trip of my life.
Summer New Zealand Study Abroad Program Reflections
Learning about the Kiwi culture and how they live life everyday really changed me and how I live my life every day now. I am so thankful for all the people and resources that I had to help make this trip one to never forget. I was so lucky to have Ashley, my resident director who lives in NZ to show me around, plan activities for me and help me with whatever I needed! She was extremely helpful and she really made the trip so exciting. Ashley, along with many other faculty members from the University of Otago, Alvernia University and the staff at BCA’s central office helped me never forget this trip and experience many new things. Even sleeping with an old fashioned hot water bottle to keep warm was a totally new experience, but you will learn about all that once you arrive in New Zealand!
- Samantha Schenck, Summer 2016 BCA New Zealand alumna and Alvernia University student