I’m glad that I went to New Zealand with the help of IES. There were many advantages to using IES as a resource, both on American soil and abroad. For starters, I got two great resources – my coordinator Eunice and her assistant Chris. Having them be able to help me, especially the first week there and then later as a resource (should I had needed them) when the semester was in full swing, was absolutely terrific and came with a piece of mind as well. Both Eunice and Chris are Kiwis, had been all around New Zealand, knew great places to go / things to see / things to do, and answered all of our questions. They even helped a few IES-ers choose classes and help with scheduling conflicts with the university – awesome!
Another really helpful thing about IES was the fact that they did most of the grunt work (in terms of housing & dealing with the university) so that by the time I arrived in New Zealand, I got picked up from the airport and delivered to Ilam Apartments where I was showed my flat. I was also given paperwork from IES to hand to university officials to show that I had proper insurance and that everything was fine to enroll in classes. And now that classes are over, IES will be sending my grades back to my university within a few weeks. The work that I had to do for IES was (in my mind) pretty minimal. Get a passport, get a medical exam, and fill out some forms. No big deal.
Truthfully, going on scheduled trips was easily one of my favorite times I had in my time abroad too – both in the first week and during the mid-semester break. The first week worth of trips was great because it allowed us to see what New Zealand was like right on our doorstep, both just outside of and within Christchurch. We got to see Castle Hill, our first rugby game, a lot of the city (and by extension the damage done to it by the earthquakes), herd sheep, and go jet boating all within the first week. If you want to know more, I wrote about it here. And the mid-semester break in Rarotonga was nothing short of amazing either, which you can read the first of three parts again here. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without IES and my coordinator.
Last but certainly not least, I instantly made 13 other close friends because of IES. Being a part of a group was extremely helpful. I made lifelong friends and it provided a group to fall back on if I was ever in need of anything (like someone to hang out with or a group to travel with if there was a weekend you might have been stuck in Christchurch).