Studying and Traveling in New Zealand
University of Victoria, New Zealand
I learned a lot about New Zealand over the past 4 months studying abroad at Victoria University in Wellington. I would definitely consider coming back here again to pursue my PhD in Linguistics. The university has a student body of about 20,000 students and there are a lot of international students (maybe about 10%). The library here is much larger and better than the library at my university in Hawaiʻi. However, the UH Hilo fitness center is much better than the one here. There seems to be more students in class than what I am used to back in Hawaiʻi but the campus at VUW is more enclosed and there are many places to eat or get a drink (including alcoholic beverages). Victoria University is on a mountain overlooking Wellington so I got some good exercise every day walking to campus. The courses seemed to be a little more difficult than what I am used to back at UH Hilo but I was able to adapt and do okay in class.
I had an opportunity to travel around New Zealand during the Trimester. We had a 2 week summer break in the middle of the Trimester which gave me an opportunity to explore the country. Also, I finished final exams 2 weeks ago and I have been visiting a lot of places I had not been to yet. I went skiing and snowboarding in Queenstown and I went skydiving near Christchurch both on the South Island. Also, I did the Auckland city bridge walk and several wine tours in the Auckland area. I spent 2 days in Rotorua which is the heart of Maori culture. I had an opportunity to try a Maori "Hangi" which is similar to a Hawaiian luau and saw several "Haka" dance performances. I also did several boat tours on lakes in Rotorua and the south island. I took the Inter-island ferry between the North and South islands. I took a Kiwi rail trip on both main islands which allowed me to see the beautiful scenery around the country.
Rugby in New Zealand is like football in the U.S. I attended 3 Wellington Lions matches at Westpac Stadium and over the past 2 months I watched New Zealand's All Blacks team at numerous bars around Wellington on their journey to the 2015 Rugby World Cup championship. When I was in Auckland, I attended the victory celebration for them at Victoria Park along with 25K other fans. The All Blacks Rugby team is the first team to win 3 Rugby World Cup Championships and also the first to win it back-to-back. I was able to do many things over the past 4 months and hopefully I will be able to see more of this country in the future.