My big adventure in Aotaeroa – the land of the long white cloud – lasted from July 2015 until July 2016. During that time I’ve done and seen so much, in New Plymouth itself as well as out of New Plymouth. I found a second family, made friends with people from all over the world and had loads of amazing, unique and precious experiences.
As I arrived in New Plymouth after spending 5 days in Auckland (Orientation camp) I finally got to meet my host parents who took me straight to Whangamata on Coromandel Peninsula where we spent the first few days until school started. From the very beginning they showed me as many places and things as possible what I appreciate a lot! During my exchange year I have been to Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands, Christchurch, Wellington, Bluff, camped in Kaikoura … The list is almost endless; filled with amazing experiences and encounters.
Ever since I could think I’ve wanted to go on an exchange year, exploring a new country and its cultures. New Zealand always appealed to me and “attracted me magically”, maybe also due to its far distance to Europe. After all I thought since I’m leaving Switzerland for a whole year I might as well travel “as far as possible”. Well, in retrospect, 365 days may sound like a long period but in the end you’ll realize how short it can actually be and how you’re running out of time…
The initial nervousness disappeared quite soon as I realized how easy-going and open kiwis in general are.
I enjoyed going to Spotswood College a lot. Not only is school life rather relaxed compared to Swiss school culture but also the great atmosphere as well as the helpful and open people at this school facilitated the settling in hugely. It was interesting to experience for us foreign things such as assemblies, the prefect system and house colours.
In my last term I started playing netball, a sport I had never heard about before I came to New Zealand. After a little misunderstanding concerning my (not yet existing) skills in this sport – I had been put into the competitive senior team – I eventually found my place in a more social team which was a lot of fun! I learnt a lot and began to love this sport. Unfortunately there are hardly any facilities to play netball in Switzerland…
To name one of my highlights: Together with my host dad and my host cousin I climbed Mount Taranaki by moonlight. We started between 2 and 3am, climbed to the top of the volcano and watched the sunrise. An extraordinary and unforgettable experience! The view was breath-taking!
My school routine in New Zealand was quite different to the one at home in Switzerland: School started at 9am and the first period was always so-called “Whanau class” (“family class”) where you get the chance to talk to your teacher in case of any problems and simply spend time with the other students. Apart from whanau class every period lasts 60 minutes and school ends at 3.10pm. Further you must choose 6 subjects. After school you usually play sports or hang out with friends. Having the sea just 5 minutes away from your house was certainly one the highlights. I spent a lot of time at the beach; swimming, surfing, kayaking, bonfires, sunset dinners at the beach and more.
I’m lucky enough to call my host family my second family on the other side of the world who took me many memorable adventures and made me feel as a part of the family.
We went on several road trips and they literally showed me New Zealand from top to bottom, took me up Mount Taranaki, gave me “private surfing lessons” and simply introduced me to kiwi culture.
Well, goodbyes are never easy – and mine certainly wasn’t either – but it definitely will never be a goodbye, just a “see you later”!