Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Why New Zealand?

For me, studying abroad at some point during my college years was inevitable. What wasn’t as obvious was in which country I wanted to spend a semester.The one thing I can say about New Zealand that I can’t necessarily say about a lot of other countries is this: I have never (like actually never) heard someone who has been there say a bad word about their time in New Zealand. To be fair, I also don’t know a ton of people who have traveled there. All the more reason to check it out! But in all seriousness, have you ever heard someone speak ill of New Zealand? (Minus the earthquake thing… I’m trying to forget about that.)

Going abroad this spring was fairly spontaneous of me. I was planning on shipping myself overseas with the rest of the Wake Forest junior student body during the fall of 2014, but for me, all academic signs pointed to seeking international adventure a little earlier in my college career. So I had to make the decision rather quickly. For me, Europe has always been out of the question. While I can’t wait to someday float down the canals in Venice and try out the pub scene in Ireland, I knew that travelling across Europe just wasn’t what I wanted for my abroad experience. I was determined to find a place where I really, truly wanted to live for five months. I didn’t want to feel like I have to pack a little bag every weekend in search of a new adventure. I wanted to find adventure in the same country I started in.

I plan on exploring as much of New Zealand as my six-month visa allows. I also wouldn’t mind trying to get over to Australia, and I definitely intend on making a pit-stop in Fiji (I’d be crazy if I didn’t!) However, my main intention is to explore and discover the coolest little capital in the world: Wellington.

I chose Wellington after my sister came back from her New Zealand experience. She recommended this coastal, capital city, located at the southern-tip of New Zealand’s north island. Originally, I was torn between studying in Stellenbosch, South Africa and Wellington for quite some time. But eventually I came to the conclusion that New Zealand was the place for me. I already had a stamp in my passport from South Africa, why not try someplace new?

Some other things about New Zealand that made the decision easier:

1. FREE STUDENT VISA (FOR AMERICANS)

The U.S. and New Zealand have an agreement regarding students travelling between countries. New Zealander’s can get a free student visa when coming to the U.S. and therefore, Americans can get a free student visa when travelling to New Zealand. Definitely couldn’t complain about that one! Additionally, the visa application process was quick and easy. No travel headaches (yet!)

2. IT’S SAFE

According to a 2012 Global Peace Index, New Zealand was ranked the second safest country in the world, after Iceland. Considering the U.S. was 88th on that list, I’m pretty content with that ranking.

3. NO SNAKES (AND OTHER POISONOUS CREEPY-CRAWLIES)

Seriously. New Zealand is completely and utterly snake-free. Additionally, they have only 2-3 known poisonous insects, and apparently they’re so rare most people consider the island nation to be poisonous-bug free.
Unfortunately, New Zealand is home to a disgusting-looking bug known as the weta. I would attach a link but I seriously don’t think you want to see what they look like. Considering I cried the first time I ever saw a cockroach (no exaggeration, just ask my roommates), I can’t even imagine what would happen if I encountered one of these mouse-sized bugs.

4. IT’S FRIENDLY

In 2012, Forbes named New Zealand the Friendliest Country in the World, followed shortly after by Australia and South Africa. This ranking was earned based on New Zealand expats’ ability to befriend locals and integrate into the community. It is also believed that New Zealand’s smaller population (only 4.4 million), lower unemployment rate, good health care, and low poverty rates all contribute to the overall friendliness of this country. I can’t wait to make some Kiwi friends!

5. “A SMALL COUNTRY WITH REALLY BIG PERSONALITY”

I’m not 100% sure what this quote means yet, but when I heard it on this video, I really liked it. One thing that has enticed me to go to New Zealand is that I don’t actually know a lot about it. I’m excited to see what this beautiful island nation has to offer me.

Well, my flight departs from LAX in 3DAYS! I seriously don’t know how that happened. I have watched the days tick down on my phone’s countdown app, but I never thought the day would actually come. I could not be more excited, but I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little bit Wake-sick and homesick already. I guess I should just be grateful that I have so many wonderful things to say goodbye to here in the U.S. However, something tells me I have some pretty great things waiting for me in New Zealand as well!

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