New Zealand was always somewhere I wanted to vacation - not to mention spend a semester there! I wanted to do something new with my life, I needed a change somewhere! One of my biggest regrets in going to college was going just 15 minutes away and with only 2,000 other students roaming the campus. I was in need of a big change, and that is exactly what I got. I also wanted to have a very unique experience more than most other abroad students.
Why did you choose The Education Abroad Network (TEAN)?
To be honest, it was my only option from my school going to NZ. However, I wouldn't have ever chosen a different program. They were so helpful every leg of the way and really made sure we were well-taken care of.
What was your favorite part about New Zealand?
I was very excited to be in a city for the first time. I enjoyed having the city at my fingertips and having access to whatever I needed at all hours of the day. Also, NZ is the most beautiful place in the world, and it still looks like an untouched frontier in many places! I enjoyed traveling to all corners of the country, exploring all its deepest caves and highest mountains. It was incredibly liberating all around.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Again, I wanted something different than most other abroad students. I feel as though many students go to Europe to experience fine wine, unique culture, and good eats for their semester abroad. But, for me, I wanted an adventure of a lifetime. I wanted to hike and camp, and to get dirty. I wanted to see nature in a way that I'd never forget. I am a lover of the outdoors at heart. Going to the adventure capital of the world was a no-brainer. It is somewhere I'd like to settle down one day.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The TEAN staff was amazing to say the least. They were always keeping tabs on us, inviting us out to eat and buying us tickets to events. They constantly provided activities, sites, and events to checkout in Auckland. There was never a lack of an exciting list to explore. They made sure we were comfortable and settled in well, visiting regularly. I really developed a close relationship with many of them and I miss them greatly already.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I had studied in the South Island. I regret not having looked into where I would be going to school - I ignorantly assumed being in NZ would all be the same. While I did very much enjoy the city - it really grew on me - I sometimes wished I was in the lush and lavish lands of the South Island. Many of my friends were there, and from the looks of it, they were doing much of what I had envisioned. I still had an incredible time exploring the beautiful North Island, but the hiking seemed more accessible and regular.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I was lucky enough to have class just two days a week. So, for most of the week, I would get up at around 9 a.m., make some breakfast, and read about world news. I would usually go for a run and explore the city further and further each day. Late afternoon I would meet up with friends in the apartment building I was staying in. Typically we would just relax, or we would be researching what we were going to do that weekend. Normally, we would leave campus and explore somewhere a few hours away. But if we were not on a two or three day trip, we would enjoy the vibrant nightlife Auckland held.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoyed staying in shape and hiking; we were hiking and camping nearly every weekend, and it allowed us to explore every corner of NZ. I took a photography course while I was abroad, so I was able to rent an amazing camera whenever I wished. I took up photography greatly while I was there, and it is now a new hobby of mine.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
I loved my apartment. It had 14-stories, five apartments on each floor, with five students in each room. Most students in the apartment building were abroad students as well. I definitely got what I paid for in the “cultural immersion” department. The study area downstairs was useful and the common area was always a good time - they had a few game tables, bean bags, couches and large TV. All around, I was very happy to be in such a bustling apartment building.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Be prepared to be taken care of. I often asked other students how they liked their program, and from the sound of it, TEAN was by far the best. They were constantly catering to us, inviting us on excursions, and providing fun ideas and events. You won't feel homesick, you'll have just made a nice new family abroad. Any worries you may have will be easily appeased with their awesome staff.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
I met some amazing people that I will have in my life forever. More importantly, I learned a lot about myself. I learn some practical skills, like eating healthy, managing money, and staying in shape; but, I also learned how to lead a happier life. Being in NZ gave me a new perspective on life - people live slower, happier, kinder, and with a greater respect for the Earth. Being in the U.S., people live a very fast-paced life; it’s stressed and overbearing at times - especially for a college student. I gained this perspective that I've shared with many people since being home, and it’s something I wish others could experience as well.
Would you recommend your program to others? Why?
Absolutely, without hesitation - I already have! They did an amazing job every step of the way. The woman I worked with when I was filling out my piles of paperwork knew exactly what I needed to do and where I was at all times. They made videos for us to help with packing and how to navigate the airports - a stressful situation for someone not having ever been out of the country. When we arrived, they gave us an awesome orientation where I met 35 other fun students. They always made sure we were happy and comfortable and making the most of our time abroad.
Cody is currently a junior psychology major at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he also plays lacrosse. When he isn’t busy with classwork, he works at a great restaurant and also as a contractor. Cody had never been outside of the United States until his trip to New Zealand, which was without a doubt the trip of a lifetime.