The Bridging Cultures Program was the perfect introduction to my semester abroad. I was able to make some friends that were going to be studying in other areas of New Zealand and now I can go to visit and spend time with them and travel to new places together! I also get to do those things with the people that came to my same university! During the BCP, we traveled to the Hobbiton movie set and were welcomed into a marae by the Maori people. We also participated in a “hangi” dinner, which is special to their people, and we learned a Haka! Along with this we also had free time, when my friends and I took the time to go out on a Class 5 whitewater rafting experience where you go down the world’s largest commercially rafted waterfall (7 meters). Overall, the Bridging Cultures Program was the perfect introduction to my semester abroad because the first friends you get to make are all in your same situation so everyone is really open to meeting new people, and for the most part, trying new things!
Once I got down to Christchurch everything fell into place pretty quickly. School started fast, but luckily this country has no shortage of incredible scenery and it’s never too far. I took weekend trips to Kaikoura to see seal colonies and hike for hours on end, with nonstop incredible views. In Christchurch itself you can find whatever you need. There is a beach 30 minutes from campus and as the weather continues to warm up I have no doubt that a lot of days will be spent there. Mountains surround the area and at this time of year they are all covered in snow! Christchurch is a place of regrowth. There were some very large earthquakes a couple years ago, but the community has turned it into a thing of remembrance and made the most of it with things like the Margaret Mahy Playground for all ages, coffee shops, and bars in old shipping containers from the main reconstruction period. There is also a weekly farmer’s market just ten minutes off campus every Saturday!
The kiwis are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and I don’t think I’ve run into a single person that wasn’t willing to help with whatever I needed. Being here has been a great experience so far and it is such an amazing place that I’m not sure I ever want to leave. If anyone is trying to decide whether or not to study abroad, do it, and come to New Zealand because there is no way you could regret it!
The world awaits…discover it.