1. Kiwi Hospitality
Kiwis are some of the nicest and most outgoing people I have ever met. In one day alone, my friends and I experienced more kindness from locals than we could have ever imagined. A woman waiting on a nearby park bench in Christchurch overheard our planning dilemma and went out of her way to suggest a few tramps and places to visit (which were beautiful, by the way). A few hours later, two parking attendants were jump-starting our car with a dead battery. Just when we thought we’d already met the friendliest New Zealanders, we found ourselves sitting under the sky that night, listening to music and sharing laughs with three new Kiwi friends. Coming from a small town in Maine which takes such pride in our sense of community, I thought I was leaving behind the type of people who jump at the opportunity to lend a helping hand or share a laugh with a stranger. I was pleasantly surprised and thankful to discover that Kiwis display the same camaraderie amongst strangers that I am used to and love so much.
Something that immediately amazed me about New Zealand and particularly about Dunedin is the amount of international influences. People from all over the Pacific and all over the globe call New Zealand home. The University of Otago in particular is a hotbed for international and exchange students. This makes class particularly interesting and exciting because students are able to share perspectives from all corners of the world. In addition to great diversity in people, New Zealand boasts an incredibly rich and international food scene. In larger cities, you are guaranteed to find a wide variety of cuisine to try out. So far, Argentinian Barbecue has been my favorite, but there are plenty of others that do not disappoint!
3. Endless Opportunities for Adventure
I am not lying when I say it overwhelms me how many things there are to do in New Zealand. Dunedin is littered with landmarks and sights, including glow worm caves, botanical gardens, beaches, walking tracks, and the steepest street in the world (which my friends and I conquered in 15 minutes for the best workout we’ve had in a while). Recreation is such an integral part of the culture in New Zealand, and the opportunities to explore your passion or pick up something new are truly endless. From learning to surf, to completing a Great Walk, to sea kayaking, or bungy jumping, the list of things I want to do this semester continues to grow. There will never be a dull or boring moment with all the options New Zealand has to offer.
4. Unreal Landscapes
I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of beautiful places. The problem here is that all of New Zealand is a beautiful place. (Not that that is actually a problem…) My friends and I like to joke that every place we go in New Zealand is the most beautiful place we’ve ever been. In all honesty, this is not a joke. It is 100% the truth, my friend. It is like another world here and I feel lucky to be calling it home for my semester abroad.
The world awaits…discover it.