One month, down three to go! Time in New Zealand so far has gone by so fast and everything is so different here than it is at home. The people are so nice and fun to be around, and the landscape is amazingly beautiful. That is one thing that does remind me of home.
Coming here, there were definitely plenty of changes to adjust to. The weather, the cost, and the way people act is different here in many ways then it is back home in Oregon. Adjusting to the culture here took some time. I was expecting Maori people everywhere and exotic foods, but it is different than I expected.
Adjusting to the Native Culture
The first few days we spent up north in the Auckland area really helped me adjust to New Zealand culture. We got to eat beans and spaghetti on toast for a traditional breakfast, and experience the culture of the Maori people which was really cool. We got to see what it is like be part of a Marae, a type of community meeting ground for the Maori people, and everyone shared the breath of life with chiefs as an acceptance into the sacred grounds and a sharing of life forces under the stars of our ancestors.
Other People’s Culture
My flatmates also come from different cultures except my kiwi host, Sam. He understands what is going on here when the rest of us draw a blank. Erin, Amy, and I are all from the U.S. so we all adjusted together from basically the same kind of culture. Ben is from Chile, so he had some adjusting to do when he came here on how to interact with people. Angus is from the Isle of Wight outside of England, so it was a little easier for him to adjust due to the British culture here.
It was fun to work through adjusting to how people drive, act, eat, talk, and interact with others. Even though I am still working on it now, it has been cool to see how people live their lives in different countries and how people from different places adjust to that culture.
Starting school was another thing to adjust to. Other than starting later in the year, the biggest difference is that everyone seems to be pretty laid back about school. In America, we stress education as an important part of life and here it’s just not as stern. People come to class when they want, the professors are fun and care about teaching students, and they want everyone to succeed.
So far from what I can tell everyone is having a pretty good go with classes and adjusting to how the school systems work. Most people are adjusting to Kiwi culture pretty well and we always have plenty of people around us to help us adjust over the next few months. Who knows, by the time we have to leave we probably won’t want to!
Jennifer Castro is an exercise and sports science major at Oregon State University and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler at the University of Otago in Spring 2017. She is a First Generation Scholar for IFSA-Butler through the First Generation Scholarship Program.