Study Abroad Update #3
With less than two weeks left until I leave for my big adventure, this will probably be my last update until I land in New Zealand. (Ahh!!) I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by; it feels like it was just yesterday when I walked into the study abroad office to talk about my interest in spending a semester in New Zealand, and now I'm actually going!
I'm sure many of you are pretty curious about my living arrangements in Palmy North; I've been asked many times if I'm staying with a host family. That was an option, but I decided that I would rather live with other students than with a host family. From what I've gathered so far, I'll actually be living in a "flat" with six to eight other international students. I'll have my own bedroom with a twin bed, a desk and chair, a dresser, and a sink, but I'll be sharing a bathroom, kitchen, and living area with the other students. I can't wait to meet everyone I'll be living with, and I really hope I can find a good travel buddy in my dorm! As an exchange student, I'll be given a NZ $2500 meal stipend (that's about $1700 here) that can be used to buy meals from the cafeteria and purchase groceries and supplies.
New Zealand has some great options when it comes to travel. Air travel is extremely popular and cheap, and I'll have quick access to the airport in my city. Also, trains and buses run all over the country at almost all times. There are free buses from campus around my city, and from there, the possibilities are endless! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to take at least one bus tour across the North Island and one across the South Island, as well. Australia is just a short plane ride away, and since I may never be on that side of the world again, I plan on spending part of my spring break "down under."
It's called "study" abroad for a reason. I'll still be taking classes while out of the country, and all of the classes I'm taking will easily transfer to UTK as general education requirements and cultural electives. I'm taking four classes, which will feel like a vacation compared to the last two semesters I've had! (I'm so glad I took on so much coursework both through dual enrollment in high school and during my freshman year. If I hadn't, none of this would be possible without putting me very behind.) I'll be taking a nutrition class, which is required for general ed and can be used toward my minor. Also, I'm enrolled in a human development class which can count as an elective. Lastly, I'm planning on taking a New Zealand environment class and one entitled "He Tirohanga o Mua: Maori Custom, Lore, and Economics." (I'm pretty excited about those two!) I'll only be in class a few hours a day, and I will be able to spend the rest of my time exploring all that New Zealand has to offer!
Now, I'm beginning to pack up for four months abroad! (And I thought packing for my dorm was hard!) When I arrive in New Zealand, it will be wintertime, so I'm pulling out all those winter sweaters and boots that I have packed away. Fortunately, the winter where I will be spending most of my time is very mild. (Think 40 to 50 degrees.) The farther north you go, the warmer it gets, and if you travel far enough south, you'll run into glaciers and penguins. By the middle of my trip, springtime will be in full swing, and it will be warm enough to visit the coasts and beaches! There's so much to see and so much time to see it all! (Yay!)
I'm so incredibly excited about my trip, and I don't think it has quite hit me that I really am doing this! I can't wait to share my adventures with you through my blog, and I hope you'll stick along for the ride. Thank you so much for all the prayers, concern, and support you have given me throughout this process! You'll never know how much I appreciate it. Please pray that I use this opportunity for the glory of God, because if it wasn't for Him, none of this would be possible. Pray that I am a good example and a bold witness for Jesus Christ on campus. There's no telling how many unique lives I can be a part of through this experience!