I’ve been in New Zealand for almost 3 months now. I have less than a month of classes left and then almost a full month of finals. I have just over 2 months left in New Zealand. It’s hard to believe the semester is so close to coming to a close, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been here for a really long time. I feel incredibly close to my friends here. I think I got really lucky in finding people I like so much so quickly. I don’t know what I would do without them!
It’s been really nice to have a semester of something different, to be able to relax and just have fun with it. I was in need of some time away from campus after a stressful year of Organic Chemistry! I’ve learned a lot about New Zealand history as well as New Zealand today through all three of my classes. I’ve learned a lot about the environmental history of New Zealand including how the country was physically formed and the effects of humans on the native ecosystems. Māori Society has taught me a lot about the cultural history of New Zealand. I’m impressed at how well Māori culture is incorporated in New Zealand today. The Māori people seem to have a much larger presence here than Native Americans do in most parts of the US. I’ve also learned a lot about the political history of New Zealand through my environmental politics class. There is a big election going on right now so I’m working on figuring out their political structures, processes, and all 10 of their political parties.
No one ever really seems stressed out here. Of course most the study abroad students are taking it easy this semester, but the kiwi students never seem stressed either. I’m not sure if it’s just this University or if it’s the same all around New Zealand, but everyone always seems very relaxed. I love Whitman, but I do get pretty stressed out from my classes sometimes! Also, on a completely unrelated note, all the kiwi students go through TONS of bottled water. Looking around the library right now, almost half of the students I can see have bottled water on their desks. I used to think of New Zealand as being pretty environmentally conscious, but there have been quite a few things I’ve been surprised about in that regard.
This weekend I’m going on a wine appreciation tour sponsored by the school. It’s almost the same group as went on the ski trip I did through the school. We’re going to a bunch of wineries near Queenstown on Saturday, spending the night in Queenstown, and then hanging out in Queenstown for a few hours on Sunday and visiting a few more wineries on our way back to Dunedin. I’m looking forward to it, I think it’ll be a fun trip.
I’m also thinking of skipping a couple days of classes next week to make the long trip up to Abel Tasman National Park at the North end of the South Island. We’re planning on doing a 3 day trek along the coast. I’ve been wanting to make it there for a long time, so I’m really excited. We’ll have to cross our fingers for good weather!