“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.
The first morning in New Zealand, we had typical kiwi breakfast, Weetbix. Weetbix are very similar to Weetabix in the UK.
Maggie 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.
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.”
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.
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)…
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.
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.”
Exploring New Zealand
Here is the list of what you can do in New Zealand based on my experiences.
- Visiting New Brighton beach
- Bathing at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools
- Picnicking at Botanic Gardens
- Walking in Hagley Park
- Visiting Orana Wildlife Park
- Visiting Lake Tekapo
- Visiting the Puzzling World in Wakana
- Visiting Queenstown
- Skyline Queenstown Luge
- Visiting Akaroa
- Go fishing in Nelson Lake
- Visiting the world’s steepest street in Dunedin
- Skiing at Mt. Porters
- Visiting the capital city Wellington
- Visiting the Castle Hill
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!
This is me and Kay on graduation day
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!