New Zealand Study Abroad Tips

When I Was a High School Student in New Zealand

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I became obsessed with living in a foreign country after coming back from a month in Melbourne as part of short exchange program. When I was younger I’d always dreamed of study aboard and thought it could only be a dream. With no expectation, at the age of 17 my parents decided to send me to a high school in a place I had never been to –Christchurch, New Zealand—this was the greatest opportunity of mine to fulfilling my wish. Who would know New Zealand would become my second home for now!

New Zealand is an island country next to Australia with Wellington a capital city and Auckland the largest city. The name ‘New Zealand’ was named after the Dutch province ‘Zeeland’ after their settlement, however, British was the first to establish their settlement in 1840. New Zealand is also known as Aotearora or ‘island of the long white cloud’. Its population has European as a majority followed by Maori, Asian, and other minorities. Kiwi is an informal term of New Zealander so you will rather hear people from New Zealand calling themselves Kiwi than New Zealander.

1st time in New Zealand: There’s a first time for everything

After a 12-hour-long flight from Bangkok, on the first day I arrived in Christchurch, I had to stay with my friend’s host family because my host mum was not well. My friend’s host mum or Maggie is a kind-hearted old lady who is originally from Scotland.

weetbix for breakfastThe first morning in New Zealand, we had typical kiwi breakfast, Weetbix. Weetbix are very similar to Weetabix in the UK.

new brighton beach chch birdsMaggie took me and my friend to New Brighton beach. The original Brighton beach is located in the UK.

After everything was settled, I finally moved to my host mum’s house. She is a single adventurous lady. She used to take me to many places. I had a chance to visit her hometown in Nelson and went fishing in Nelson Lake with her family. Her place in Christchurch allowed me to walk to Botanic Gardens and city centre during weekends as she lived literally in the centre of the city. Unfortunately, I had to change a homestay because my mother wanted me to change school and the distance between this homestay and my new school were too far apart.

nelson fishing

fishing in nelson

scallop nelson yummy

When I changed school I moved to a homestay family of five people plus a girl from Korea who was also an international like me. The house was very warm and comfy and I enjoyed staying in this place. My bedroom was upstairs and huge. Everyone in the house was very kind for me. My host father cooked delicious kiwi dinner for us almost every night, sometimes we had fish&chips for tea which I didn’t like it very much.

“Living in New Zealand allowed myself to be independent.”

 sheep rolleston nz chasing

School Life

Since I don’t want my post to be lengthy, I will just mention about a school I graduated from. I went to a co-educational public school called Lincoln High School. The school has nearly 1,600 students with kiwi and international students. In New Zealand, high school students study to achieve NCEA qualifications. While year 11 and 12 students study six subjects, year 13 students only study five subjects. It is similar to GCSE but easier because NCEA grades are divided in to Excellent, Merit, Achieve, and Not Achieve only. Tuition fee for international students is around NZD13,000 and home stay fees of NZD240 per week. School starts around 8.45 AM and finishes at 3.15 PM.

lincoln uni chch

year 13 art work

I found study in New Zealand was more relaxed than when I was in Thailand. While kiwi students usually spend time after school on playing rugby and other sports, Thai students go to cram schools straight after school and study… study… and study! Luckily every subjects I studied in school back in Thailand were conducted in English so I didn’t have to put much effort to understand the courses in New Zealand. Of course maths was super easy for me, but physics was really a pain in my arse! Chemistry was the most interesting subject for me. I still have no idea how I ended up study Accounting and Finance for undergraduate degree (in Japan)…

athletic day lincoln high

Earthquakes Experiences

I experienced the earthquakes twice while I was in Christchurch. The first time was in September and it was actually the first time in my life to experience such natural disaster. It was around 3 o’clock in the morning when everyone was sleeping. I started to feel that everything was shaking back and forth. I thought I was just dreaming and remained sleeping until my friend who came sleep over woke me up. I could hear the sound of strong wind outside and something in my room smashed. I didn’t know it was the earthquake yet. I hugged my friend tight and thought we were going to die! All I wanted to do was to call my parents and tell them that I love them. Suddenly the earthquake stopped, I checked my place for any damages which luckily there were no damages in my house but we ran out of power for few days. It was the most terrifying moment in life.

earthquake damage chch

The second shake happened at lunch time when I was at school. I could really see the ground was moving. The magnitude was lower than the last quake but it caused more damages. My host mum came pick me and my host sister at school and went straight back home. We still had power and water supply but we had to boil water before using as it was contaminated. The school closed for fortnight and I had nothing to do. All I did at that time was watching the news which reported number of death confirmed and missing victims. My friends had to move to Nelson and Dunedin because there were too much damages in their houses. I felt really frustrated and stressed. I couldn’t have shower everyday as usual. I had to wait for the toilet to be full to flush. I was scared every time the aftershocks happened, which later enabled my special skill to estimate the magnitude.

Kiwi Slangs and Phrases

Togs – swimming suit

Dairy – local convenience store

Eh (ay) – to add the end of a sentence. For example “It’s cold today eh?”

Sweet as – cool, good

Choice – similar to Sweet as

Tea – dinner

Knackered – tired, exhausted

Kia Ora – Hello

L&P – stands for Lemon & Paeroa, New Zealand’s classic softdrink

Mean – amazing

Reckon – think

Shot – thanks

Crook – ill

Heaps – lots

Cuppa tea – cup of tea

Far out – unusual

She’ll be right – not a problem

Maccas – McDonalds

All good – no problem

As – to add after an adjective. For example, “This thing is stupid as.”

cow rolleston nz

Exploring New Zealand

Here is the list of what you can do in New Zealand based on my experiences.

  • Visiting New Brighton beach
    new brighton beach chch
  • Bathing at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools
  • Picnicking at Botanic Gardens
    botanic garden
  • Walking in Hagley Park
    plank in hagly park
  • Visiting Orana Wildlife Park
    orana park nz
    orana park nz lion_
  • Visiting Lake Tekapo
    lake tekapo
  • Visiting the Puzzling World in Wakana
    the puzzling world nz
    toilet puzzling world
  • Visiting Queenstown
    queenstown nz parachute
  • Skyline Queenstown Luge
    luge queenstown nz
  • Visiting Akaroa
    on the way to akaroa
    linton house akaroa
  • Go fishing in Nelson Lakenelson lake
  • Visiting the world’s steepest street in Dunedin
    world's steepest street dunedin nz
  • Skiing at Mt. Porters
    skiing mt porter
  • Visiting the capital city Wellington
    wellington nz
  • Visiting the Castle Hill
    castle hill nz
    castle hill nz lunch


I had a really great time there in New Zealand, a country where I call a second home. It is a country where I met my best mate Kay who is also now my fellow travel blogger Grab My Hands. I also have to thank my parents who financially support my education abroad. Without them, I wouldn’t have a chance to study in this amazing country!

graduation with kayThis is me and Kay on graduation day

fire spin

This is the end of my high school experience in New Zealand. I hope you will enjoy it and look forward to read your comments!

Thank you for coming by and have a good day!

Kia Ora!





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  • Reply
    2nd January 2016 at 12:41 AM

    How I wish I went there in 2016!

    • Reply
      2nd January 2016 at 11:50 PM

      Thanks for checking out my post, Sabrina!
      I also wish to revisit this amazing country 🙂

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