And how are things in Wellington?

Starting halfway through February, I was able to go on a study semester abroad in Wellington, New-Zealand. Although the journey has only just started, it has been a blast so far! For me, it’s the first time experiencing what it is like being and international student. It helps that in New-Zealand, being kind is the norm.

photo in the middle Gijs Ebbers

When people ask me why I chose to go here, I like to reply with: ‘why would you not want to go to the other side of the world!’ Of course going abroad is very beneficial for your studies and you’ll learn a lot and yes, you do have to study hard here too, but there’s also a lot of new opportunities. As I’m a Dutchie, this is the first time experiencing what it is like being and international student.

It’s been quite different than being a national student so far: because everything is new, you might feel a bit out of place at the start. Luckily, there are a lot of other internationals that are trying just as hard to find their place, make friends and see the country. It also really helps that in New-Zealand, being kind is the norm. All Kiwis (New-Zealanders) greet the bus driver, ask pro-actively if they can help you find your way in town, and are interested. This makes me question if it is actually them being kind, or the Dutch being not so open-minded….

Another thing I noticed is that university-life is organized a bit different here. And no, it’s not better than TU/e (mediocre organization seems to be universal) but rather it’s how education and student-life works. For example, it’s quite common for people to take several years of work between a bachelor and master degree, which leads to an interesting mix in the classrooms of 20-year-olds and people who might be their parents.

Student- or study-associations also don’t really exist here, but there are still a lot of sport clubs and cultural societies you can be a part of. I joined the sailing and hiking club for example.

Wellington is the capital and very central to New Zealand, very useful if you want to see the country. And there is a lot to see here! Because it is so remote, nature is very different and super awesome. There’s no large native mammals for example, and there’s volcanic activity, old-growth forests, mountains and endless coastline. All of this is well-conserved (the Kiwis are quite proud of it) and easily explorable. So that’s what I’ve been doing between study, with all the new people I’ve gotten to know.

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