Arriving weeks before school started, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel the South Island with some friends. It absolutely dumbfounded me that a country small enough to be able to drive across in 7 hours could hold so many different views. We saw jungles and rainforests, dry flat land, rolling hills, and snow covered mountains. Coming from the Chicago suburbs, I had never seen anything like it in my entire life. And the sheep- there were sheep everywhere. Just out of curiosity, we Googled it… and the ratio of sheep to people in New Zealand is 10:1. During our trip we hit just about every touristy spot available, but not even the huge busses and shuffling cameras could stop New Zealand from taking my breath away every time. Before I knew it, we were back in Christchurch and it was time for me to go back to reality and start school.
Reality never really hit. Traveling to a country that speaks English I expected communication to be easy, but everywhere I turned I was hit with a culture shock. I started school on February 22nd, and before it even started I was already confused. I went from having three to four classes a day at UIUC to having one (or less) class a day at the University of Canterbury. In New Zealand the culture seems to be that teachers trust the students to value learning, and to me that trust basically means no homework the entire semester. All of my classes consist of attending lectures (which are optional because every class is recorded), a large project, and a final exam. Everything in New Zealand is intriguing me, and I can’t wait to see what else it has to offer.