Today I walked to class in the bright sunshine, wearing a tank top and shorts, while my friends at my home university walked to class wearing as many layers as they could. It’s an average of 16C here in Christchurch, New Zealand (60F), but my home university in Ithaca, New York, is experiencing another Nor’easter storm, with temperatures below freezing. I definitely made the right choice to study abroad in New Zealand during the northern hemisphere’s spring semester...but the weather is not the only reason that I makes me grateful.
One immediate difference between my home and abroad university is the appearance of the University. Sure, universities in America vary vastly, but the vegetation and architecture are very different in Christchurch. The architecture is designed to withstand future earthquakes, and the landscaping around UC is also vastly different. There are times when I feel I am walking through a tropical jungle, and not to my classroom, as seen in some of my photos.
As someone who likes to exercise, I had a pretty fun time getting used to the fitness centre at the University, due to America's use of the Imperial system. All of the weights are labelled in kg, and it took quite a long time to get used to calculating the weight conversions and getting used to what standard kg weights felt like. I also thought that the first treadmill I tried was old or slow, until I realized that the units were in kilometre per hour!
One of the things I love most about Christchurch, the garden city, is the way that everyone recycles and discards their trash. As an environmental studies major, this is especially important to me! Instead of having only a garbage bin and a recycling bin, as many places in the States do, there are sometimes four or five bins to choose from on campus. There is a paper bin for paper, a recycling bin for plastics and glass, and organic bin for food leftovers, and a rubbish bin for anything else (like coffee cups). Sometimes, there is even a blue bin for empty cups only. These bins are managed by the UC Sustainability Office, on campus.
Travel here is different as well, and more environmentally friendly. There are more racks for storing bikes than there are parking spots around campus. Actually, it is pretty hard to find parking spots on campus, and sometimes (as shown) they are completely empty throughout the day.
To further add on to the topic of the environment, electric outlets have on and off switches specific to each outlet, as you can see in this photo. To save energy, outlets can be turned off when not in use, which is awesome.
I love how sustainable the University of Canterbury’s campus is, and am continually falling in love with the campus landscaping. I hope that the below photos do the campus justice, and encourages those thinking about studying abroad in the future to consider New Zealand as an amazing place to study abroad!
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<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:12.3pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">One fun fact about myself is that I am not sure the exact date of my birthday! Before I was adopted, I was a baby in China and my parents could not keep me because of the one child policy. Therefore, as was the way of many families in China in the 90s, I was left on the steps of the police station. When the police found me, they estimated my age. This estimate is the age on my birth certificate and on every official document. It is interesting to think about my birthday being one day before it is written, or maybe a few days after!</span></p>