Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ariel P. - Dunedin, New Zealand - Fall 2011

Hello everyone on the other side of the planet! Hope you all enjoyed the summer weather the past few months, that’s the only thing I miss! I have been in Dunedin, New Zealand for about a month and a half now. So far it’s been an amazing experience, this country is more beautiful than you can even imagine. I’ve met so many great people and already done countless things I wouldn’t have done back in the states. Settling in to living in a different country was easier than I expected, but then again I was well prepared! The most difficult thing has been getting used to the cold (I choose to study in the very south of the country). New Zealand’s winters are nowhere near as harsh as Chicago winters; temperatures typically range between 35-45 degrees with occasional nights that are colder. However, houses here have no central heating! It’s actually been colder inside my flat than outside on a few occasions. I have never loved anything more than my heated mattress pad ;-) But thankfully, the worst of winter has passed and yesterday was a beautiful 65 and sunny! Just in time for spring break next week where my British roommate and I will be travelling around the northern south island before heading to Wellington, the countries capital, to stay with our kiwi host (I live in a Uni flat with 4 other internationals and 1 kiwi student).

A few of the things I have experienced since being here:
  • Spelunking-probably one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I had to repel down a waterfall 80 meters underground!
  • White water rafting-which included the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. A 20-meter drop-off!
  • Learned and performed the ‘Haka’ which is traditional Maori dance that is now performed/best known by the New Zealand All Blacks before each rugby game to pump themselves up
  • Drove on the LEFT side of the road, it’s actually quite easy to get used to
  • Snowboarding in Queenstown-the view of endless mountain ranges from the lift is a nice change from Midwest skiing.
  • Eaten the most delicious burger on this planet!! Furgburger…if anyone ever makes it to Queenstown, you will know what I’m talking about!
  • Tramped a mountain in the Southern Alps
  • Had a streaker run through my lecture hall, I thought that only happened in the movies!
  • Went to a royal wedding themed Ball
  • Experienced my first ever Snow Day in the month of August!

The academic system in New Zealand is much different from what I’m used to. Since I’m at a large Uni my papers (what they call courses) are in lectures halls along side a couple hundred kiwi students with smaller tutorial classes once or every other week. That way of learning was difficult to get used to especially with being an international student and having to get used to the accent/different words and writing style they use here. But I’d say the hardest thing getting used to is the assessment system. There are only a few assignments per semester for each paper with a large exam at the end, so everything is worth a lot more and it’s your responsibility to keep up with the lectures and readings. One of my papers only has one group assignment worth 40% and the final exam is worth 60%!!! Yikes! I have definitely spent a lot of time studying, which is sometimes difficult having international friends taking pass/fail classes. But hey, at least I’m learning something!
My time here has been even more wonderful than I could ever imagine, It’s sad to think that in just three weeks it’s half over! I have so many plans and there’s so much to look forward to in the next few months. In case your not rugby fans, the Rugby World Cup 2011 is being held in New Zealand this year and It starts in just 2 weeks! You can literally feel the excitement building. Dunedin just put the finishing touches on a brand new $200mil stadium for the event. New Zealand’s main sport is rugby and this country is OBSESSED with their All Blacks. I can only imagine how big of a party it’s going to be if they win!

Well I better wrap this up so I’m not late for class. Cheers from New Zealand!! I hope everyone has a great semester!J

Feel free to email me, or comment on this blog entry if anyone is considering studying in New Zealand and want the low down about the University of Otago or the country in general. (parksa@net.elmhurst.edu)


Blogger lauren said...

Hey Ariel, my name is Lauren and I am studying abroad in Australia next semester. I am extremely excited and I plan to visit New Zealand sometime during the semester while I am there. Reading your blog has made me very excited to leave and go out of my comfort zone and try new things. Hopefully I can adjust as well as you did and get more comfortable with a different setting. If you could let me know what areas I should travel to and give me ideas and places to go that would be great!! Have fun! -Lauren

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. Like Lauren, I am also going to Australia next semester. It was interesting to hear how you adjusted to your classes in New Zealand. Do you have any tips on how to go about selecting classes to take abroad?
-Shelby K.

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like New Zealand is a fun time, I'm traveling to Australia next semester and I would definitely like to try something like spelunking!! What types of classes are you taking over there? Are they for your major classes or just gen eds?
-Amanda W.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Ariel said...

Hey guys, I took two marketing papers for my degree and one elective paper on Maori Society. I didn't have too many options when choosing courses since I'd completed all my gen eds already but if I hadn't it would have been nice to knock some of those off while abroad. I know Australia will be amazing but if any of you get a chance try and make it over to New Zealand. It's an amazing country and there's so much you can do and see in a short amount of time..consider it as a mid-semester break trip!


4:29 PM  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Ariel, sounds like your having a blast! Reading your blog made me wish I would have looked into NZ a bit deeper. I'm fortunate to have four gen eds to take care of while abroad. Do you think I will be able to get those four classes? our should I have several back-ups? Super jealous of the white water rafting and the 20 ft drop!!

-Kyle Smith

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ariel! My name is Carly and I’ll be in Rome next semester and I know you said that you said classes were limited because you couldn’t really take gen ed’s but how did that affect the difficultly of the classes since they were counting as your major? Were you worried about the grading scale and understanding/keeping up?

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ariel, my name is Pamela and i'll be studying in Barcelona next semester, but I've been reading blog posts about other places just to get an idea of what else is out there. How have you dealt with culture shock, as described in the study away course at our college? Thank you!

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you hot :P

3:19 PM  

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