Kia Ora from New Zealand!!
For anyone who really knows me, it is no surprise to hear me state that I have just about the itchiest pair of feet possible. I can’t stop travelling; I have the bug. So it was off course no surprise that as soon as the opportunity to study abroad reared its beautiful head, I jumped on the prospect immediately. The only difficult thing for me was choosing where to go!
Having already visited most of Europe, North America and Australia, I decided on Norway; a chance to explore the undiscovered (to me) fantasy land of Scandinavia. I was, however, assigned my second choice; New Zealand. In hindsight, this was a blessing! The dark days and snowy encasement of Norway in winter may have been too much for me to bear, and the extended Christmas break in New Zealand allowed me time to travel Australia and New Zealand again, while soaking up the sun.
If I can offer any piece of advice for those of you considering a semester or year abroad it would be to travel as much as you can around it. I left the wintry UK in early January to the warmer climes of Australia. One whole month of sea, surf, new friends and a little bit of partying was just enough to propel me into the South Island of New Zealand where I was lucky enough to keep the good weather whilst hiking, city/town hopping, making yet more new friends, and enjoying another month of Christmas holiday!
I am now firmly settled in Wellington for five months to continue my studies, and whilst my feet are already itching to go again, I could not ask for a better city! For those of you who are perturbed by the Norwich wind … You know nothing! Wellington has the fastest changing weather I have ever seen, and the bitterest wind that can knock you off your feet and give you dreadlocks in five-seconds-flat! As for the city? An awesome array of coffee shops, bars, vintage shops, regular shops, every type of cuisine you can imagine (benefits of being close to Asia), markets, fairs, festivals, water sports, sea diving-boards, Sushi EVERYWHERE, wonderful (and strange) people, and sooooo much more, fills this incredible place! I won’t pretend that the hills aren’t tricky at times, but who doesn’t want to get fit walking to Uni? As for the University itself, the array of courses on offer, the facilities in general, and the ease of changing to modules that are interesting and unusual is just incredible!
I’ve been away for just over two months, and so far I have hiked to glacier lakes with icebergs, had too close an encounter with a large sea-lion, spotted some of New Zealand’s rarest dolphins and birds, commandeered a boat, been horse-riding in the backdrop of Lord of the Rings landscapes, added to my tattoo collection, cruised through Milford Sound, Paddle boarded on Lake Wakatipu, felt a ‘severe’ earthquake in Christchurch, and (among so much more) made some incredible friends and memories.
Norway would have been fantastic, but I’m pretty happy here in New Zealand, and cannot recommend it enough to those of you choosing where to do your study abroad!
Jen Watson, Politics
Victoria University of Wellington