Finals have started at the University of Auckland! I’ve found that here, it is a much more intense period than it is in the US. All finals here are about 50% of the course, some being up to 75% – which I find to be an insane amount of pressure on a two-hour exam. That means while many students might have taken days off to travel during the semester or slacked off a little, things get serious around exam time.
Around exams, there is actually plenty of time to get some final traveling in during the study break and enjoy the beautiful weather that summer is bringing! Though it rained on and off and was pretty cold for most of the semester, the arrival of warm and sunny days means trips to the beach, playing games in the park, and exploring more of Auckland. Last week, a friend and I took a short bus ride along the coast to Mission Bay, which is a small beach town east of Auckland. We ate lunch on the beach and basked in the sun (though you always have to wear sunscreen because when it’s sunny in New Zealand, the UV index is usually around 7-9).
I’ve also traveled up north a few times in the past month to explore the bays, beaches, and other amazing sights. If you drive all the way to the northern tip of New Zealand, you reach Cape Reinga, which is also where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet. We got there for an early sunrise and witnessed the spectacular swirl of currents out along the coast. Heading back down, we stopped at the Te Paki sand dunes, which are mountainous dunes that you can sandboard down, which was both exhilarating and terrifying!
The Bay of Islands was another beautiful place to stop in as we stayed in the small town of Paihia. We visited waterfalls nearby and explored the Waipu glowworm caves – an inexpensive choice if you don’t want to pay for cave tours! With flashlights in hand, we waded into the cave and admired the luminescent glowworms on the roof above us. At lunch, we savored fish and chips that came straight off the boat, and in the evening, we walked along the beach and made friends at our hostel. One of the best things about New Zealand is that wherever you stay the night, you’ll always make friends from other countries and meet locals that will tell you the best things to do and visit!
Right now, I’m planning a trip to Australia after finals before I head home for the holidays. It’s been bittersweet wrapping up my semester, with final dinners with my IES Abroad family and visiting places in Auckland for the last time. But, despite coming to the end of my journey abroad, I know I’ve learned and grown so much from being in New Zealand this semester, and I’ve loved every minute of it!
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<p>I am a sophomore anthropology major and pre-med student at Southern Methodist University. I love hiking, camping, rowing, and exploring new places!</p>