If you’re thinking about studying abroad in Auckland or you’re already signed up to go, I hope that this advice will be helpful to you. Of course, your RAs and program director will be incredibly helpful in getting you settled and letting you know what you need to do, so I won’t bore you with basic advice. Instead, here are 10 things you might not hear in orientation:
- Orient yourself
My biggest challenge at first was that I got lost all the time. I looked pretty silly walking around in circles with Google maps open on my phone. Especially if you live far from campus, it’s important to know where you are in relation to some important landmarks. Make sure you know how to get to campus from your flat, and locate some important streets, like Queen St or Parnell Rd. Also, find your nearest bus stop.
- Learn some Maori words and phrases
The Maori language is more prevalent than I expected it would be. While you might be prepared for British phrases, there are a couple Maori phrases that would be helpful to know. Kia ora (Key-O-ra) is the most important and you’ll probably hear it a lot. It’s used as a greeting.
- Bring your credit card
Most people in New Zealand pay with a credit or debit card. You can expect that pretty much any shop or restaurant you go to will have an EFTPOS (stands for “electric funds transfer at point of sale”). It doesn’t hurt to carry some cash on you just in case, but you shouldn’t carry any more than NZ$50. Getting a debit card from a New Zealand bank is an even better idea, so you won’t have to sign the receipt every time you buy something.
- Don’t jaywalk
It may seem tempting to dart across the street, especially since NZ crosswalks seem to make you wait longer than in the US. But if you’re not accustomed to cards driving on the left, you might end up looking the wrong way before you cross. Plus, even if traffic looks like it’s stopped, the right turn lane might be about to open up, so watch out!
- Get to know your flatmates
During your first week, you’ll mostly be hanging out with other American students. So if you’re eager to get to know some Kiwis, talk to your flatmates! However, if your flatmates aren’t moved in yet, don’t panic- they’re just at home for winter break and they’ll be back before classes start.
- Don’t buy a SIM card in the US
When I picked up my student ID at the Clock Tower, I was given a free international SIM card from Vodaphone. It’s a pre-pay, so you have to go online and choose your plan. If the phone you have isn’t unlocked, you might have to buy a new phone, but you can get a cheap one at the Vodaphone store on Queen St.
- Embrace sushi
There’s a sushi restaurant on every block in Auckland (and I’m only exaggerating a little bit). So if you like sushi, prepare to be amazed. If you’re unsure, take a risk and try it out! I promise it’s delicious.
- Prepare for a cold room
NZ houses are notoriously cold and drafty. I wasn’t prepared for this when I moved into my flat. There’s no central heating, but I have a space heater. This means my room is usually pretty warm while the rest of the flat is cold. It takes some getting used to, but you will get used to it. Just make sure you know how to turn on your space heater!
- Don’t tip
No need to tip in NZ! The cost of service is included in the bill. Tax is also included in the listed price of any item.
- Little things will be different
The outlets, the toilets, the phone numbers, the crosswalks, the chip flavors, the peanut butter, the trees… These small differences don’t seem important, but they’re a part of daily life and will take some getting used to.
More Blogs From This Author
<p style="margin-bottom:12.0pt">Kia ora! My name is Jessica and I'm majoring in biology and environmental studies at Lawrence University, a small school in Appleton, WI. I grew up in Marquette, Michigan and will always call the shore of Lake Superior home. I love to travel and have been to Costa Rica, Chile, and Argentina so far.<span style="text-autospace:none"><span style="font-size:16.0pt"><span style="font-family:"Times",serif"> </span></span></span></p>