The Study Abroad Newsletter

Campervan Adventures

Ashley Romero

Biology major

University of Waikato, New Zealand


Ashley on Coastline

This spring semester I spent 5 months at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. At around 12 thousand students this university was still pretty small, but twice the size of my home institution where the student population is a mere 6 thousand. Needless to say, this was quite a change. I adapted to a new education system, met people from all around the world, experienced new cultures, learned new slang, ate new food, studied hard, traveled to new and beautiful places, and became just a little more independent. One especially memorable day was the day we went surfing at Raglan beach. Coming from Hawai’i I often got asked the question; “Do you surf?” during my time abroad. I’ve always wanted to try surfing though I have only been on board once ever in my life. So when my school was hosting a surf lesson at Raglan beach I was eager to try. 

After an hour bus ride at 7 a.m. We got to the little van with all the equipment right next to the beach. We suited up in a wetsuit and headed down to the beach. Our surf instructors were really friendly and we had a little session where we got to know each other and learned some surfing and safety basics and practiced a little before we went into the water. Surfing was just as hard as I thought it would be, but so much fun and I even managed to get a good wave in a handful of times. After a good hour and a half of surfing, I felt pretty exhausted and we were rounded up to get back on to dry land and changed out of our wetsuits. After we were all cleaned up we enjoyed a nice vegan curry lunch, homemade by our surf instructors. We enjoyed this meal on a beautiful hill overlooking raglan beach on a gorgeous sunny day.

After lunch, we went on a two-hour kayaking trip in the Raglan peninsula. Kayaking was quite an arm workout but it was such a cool way to see that part of the beach. We went to the beach across the peninsula, explored the pancake rocks which have a unique layered formation to them, and I even got to jump off a pier into the water before heading back to shore. After that, we all went to a fish and chips place along the water and enjoyed great fish and chips before heading back home. This day was so much fun and so action packed I really enjoyed getting to experience a pretty famous surf spot in New Zealand. I would consider it to be one of the most fun days I had in New Zealand.

Over my stay I’ve gained so much insight about the world and I am continuing to learn so much. This trip has inspired my return to this country and an instilled sense of wanderlust for other places as well. I am a little more confident in my traveling abilities and am excited to see what the rest of the world has to teach me.