Posted by: Katie | October 1, 2012

Life in New Zealand

Sarah was a college student in Wisconsin when she decided to study abroad in New Zealand for one semester. She quickly had to adjust to a brand new way of life and was kind enough to share some of her story for the blog. She continued familiar activites, such as rugby, but also tried many new things like zorbing (rolling down a hill in an orb); Sarah even picked up some new lingo and a slight accent. Enjoy reading!

1. You were a college student in  Wisconsin before traveling. What sparked your interest in studying abroad in New Zealand? 

My grandpa actually recommended that I study abroad in New Zealand. He had traveled there for work many years before and thought I would love it and boy was he right! At first I wasn’t sure but after doing some research I soon decided that it would be the perfect fit. It was a great chance to learn about a new culture, meet people from all over the world, and play rugby.

2. What was the greatest thing (life lesson or advice) you learned while over there?       

The greatest thing I learned while in NZ was the ability to accept different cultures and lifestyles. I had many friends from different countries and they all had various back grounds and values that differed from mine. Two of my friends were from Oman. They explained to me that if I ever were in their country I would have to be escorted by a man and that I wouldn’t be able to play sports. They also told me that their parents still arrange marriages. It was a shock for me to hear those things and it was amazing that even though we were from completely different places we still became great friends.

3. Traveling that distance is an extreme change. Did you have any struggles  and how did you overcome these?

There were a few struggles I had while being in New Zealand. My first was trying to figure out simple things like using the city bus, where my classes were and where to go grocery shopping. It was a shock for me the first time I was in the grocery store and there were a bunch of people without shoes on! I asked someone why they didn’t have any on and their casual response was “well if you don’t want to wear shoes you don’t have to!” I loved that NZ was a very laid back and friendly culture. My other main struggle was being home sick at times. It was hard to be so far away during important family events such as my sister being engaged and my Grandpa getting sick. Since I couldn’t be there I was very thankful for Skype! The other shocker for me was seeing so many people with mullets! Tons of the guys I played rugby with had mullets and well it was completely normal but trust me they looked completely ridiculous!

4. I remember all the wild new things, such as zorbing, that you tried. What was your favorite activity?  

Although zorbing was a blast I would say my favorite thing I did was go sky diving. I knew that I always wanted to try it but I was blessed to be able to do it in Auckland. It was amazing and there was such a great view.


5. You played Rugby in the states as well as New Zealand. Did you notice a difference in competiveness?         

I would say that the competiveness was about the same but rugby is definitely more popular in New Zealand. There were 3 or 4 different men’s teams at the college I attended. After each game we would go to a local pub with the teams we played and drink some beer and hang out. The big difference I noticed while playing in New Zealand was the size of the ladies I was playing with. There were some pretty big girls that made the style of play a little different!


6. Did you get the chance to travel around New Zealand a lot? What was your favorite location and why?

During our Easter break my roommate and I travelled around the south island. It was amazing! We spent time in so many towns and made so many memories. My favorite place was most likely Queenstown. It was fall in NZ and we spent time walking around the city and enjoying the weather and scenery. We did a little shopping and visited some local tourist sites. Almost two years later there was a huge earthquake that destroyed a lot of the city so it was amazing that I had the chance to visit.

7. You also traveled around the east side of Australia. What were your favorite sites there?

I travelled to so many places that I honestly cannot choose. I spent time at so many different places such as a night on a Australian farm, a surf camp, and an island. I would say the most memorable place was staying at a resort on a private island in the Whitsundays. My tour group went out sailing to amazing beaches and had the chance to go snorkeling.  That day is one of my favorite memories!


8. Australia and New Zealand both have slang that is quite different than most are used to. What are some of your favorite slang terms or sayings?

To this day I sometimes slip out a little slang and get the weirdest looks from people here. One of the most popular sayings in New Zealand was “sweet as.” This pretty much means that you agree with what the person said.  Another term that I heard a lot was “keen.” For example if I asked someone if they wanted to get lunch they would say “I’m keen.”  I had a little accent when I came back to Wisconsin but it was quickly lost when I got weird looks from everyone back home!

9. Any plans to go back sometime in the future?  

I definitely want to go back in the future. Right now I am busy with school but a trip will be in my future plans!


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