Abigail Dow is a student at the University of San Diego and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Dunedin, New Zealand.
1. You’ll want to explore a new beach every week, even if you need to wear a down-jacket.
The Otago Peninsula and its neighboring coastline has endless beautiful beaches all within thirty minutes of Dunedin. From the dramatic views of Tunnel Beach, to the seal colonies and penguins of Sandfly Bay, the stunning nature of Aramoana Beach, the sweet solitude of relaxed Karitane, and the friendly beach town feel of St. Claire’s, there is a place for every ocean-lover. No matter if it is a wintery morning or a warm and sunny afternoon, you will find yourself at the beach. You may even bring a wetsuit and hop in with the other surfers!
2. You’ll fall in love with the starry sky of the Southern Hemisphere.
The stars are numerous and bright, and I’ve never seen anything so incredible as a night sky from the South Island of New Zealand. Whether you are camping at Lake Tekapo or laying in the sand at Aramoana Beach, you will gaze up at an amazing and clear view of the Milky Way and watch shooting stars fall. You will probably find yourself checking the cycle of the moon and if the skies are clear so that you don’t miss the best nights for stargazing.
3. You’ll shop at the Dunedin Farmer’s Market.
Every Saturday morning you can walk to the market, shop for your groceries, and listen to locals sing and perform folk and acoustic music. The market is next to the train station, and the surrounding architecture gives the city square a European feel. You will want to wake up early and spend your morning there shopping, talking, and meandering around. The coffee in Dunedin is rich and tasteful, and you can get a freshly made pastry or crepe for breakfast. The locals are friendly, happy, and lovely to be around. When you are in town, there is no better way to spend your Saturday morning.
4. You will appreciate a small city lifestyle.
Everything that you need and more will be within walking distance from your flat— campus, the fitness center, the Rugby Stadium, the Otago Museum, the Botanical Garden, movie theatres, the Octagon and downtown, bars, restaurants, shopping, and the walking and biking trails on Signal Hill and the Harbour Cycleway. The city population is just over 120,000 people, and about 20,000 of that is made up of uni students. It is likely that you will walk around town and campus and see people who you know. This makes Dunedin feel like home.
5. You will be in the Otago University Student Association building for $3 meals.
Every weekday, Hare Krishna hosts lunch for the uni students. It’s only $3 for a satisfying and delicious lunch– usually rice, lentils, vegetables, and samosas. $3 Lunch harbors community and is a wonderful time to sit down with friends for an affordable, well-cooked meal. It is a great way to take a break from the school day and replenish the body and soul with good food and the company of good friends.
6. You will learn how funny sarcasm can be, especially when you are the one being made fun of.
If a Kiwi is being sarcastic or making fun of you, odds are that they are being friendly and endearing. If you don’t know how to laugh at yourself, you will learn. Before you know it, you may find yourself dishing out sarcasm and “banter”, as many Kiwis call it.
7. You will become an expert at weekend road trips, but still need to remind yourself which side of the road you’re supposed to drive on.
Dunedin is an ideal location to live in. Every weekend can be a new adventure to see some of the most scenic and beautiful nature in the world. If you love the outdoors and natural wonders, then you will love the South Island. Every weekend you will want to get out and see Milford Sound, the West Coast, the great walks, glaciers, lakes, rivers and mountains. The topography of the South Island is extremely diverse, yet it is a small enough island where you can see much of what it has to offer. Keep in mind– New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where the cars drive on the left side of the road. You will want your passengers to be back-seat drivers so that they can help you remember this!
8. You’ll learn that Kiwis are generally well-traveled and well-informed, and can offer insightful perspectives on the world.
Although New Zealand is a small, far-away, and isolated country, many Kiwis have traveled to different parts of the world. Many Kiwis also keep up on global issues and American politics. It is valuable to engage in political discourse while you’re abroad so that you can learn new perspectives, open your mind, and see what Kiwis and other nationalities have to say about American politics and culture. You will hear both positive and critical opinions of America. Listening to other people speak about the world is an invaluable skill that will help you begin to see the world through others’ eyes.
9. You will adopt Kiwi terms and slang into your vocabulary… hard out!
In Dunedin, “Hard out!” is similar to saying “Heck ya!” in California. There are many fun slang terms that you will quickly take a liking to, such as “I’m keen”, “sweet as”, and “jandals”. Also, Kiwis often use British terms and spelling, so they say “dressing gown” instead of “bath robe”, and they use “s” instead of “z” in words like “specialise”. It’s the little things. It’s rare, but always funny, when a Kiwi and American have to ask each other to repeat something two or three times.
10. You will listen to heaps of live music… and start saying words like “heaps”
Many of the parties and bars in Dunedin have live bands playing. It is a blast, and you will get to know some of the local bands and their music. There are many events at different bars as well. You may even want to go to Jazz Night at Dog With Two Tails cafe every Thursday night. There are countless cheap and free concerts that you will not want to miss out on.
The world awaits…discover it.