My final days in the US crept up on me, and then once they were there they sped right on by, and in no time I was on a flight out of Minneapolis, bound eventually (24 hours later…) for Christchurch, New Zealand! Since being here, I have taken part in the spectacular events planned for the IES Abroad students by Eunice, our absolutely incredible program director. We spent some time getting to know each other, learning more about Christchurch, and being taught some Kiwi dialect. Aside from those events, Eunice had a plethora of other incredible activities planned for us. We did scavenger hunts around campus and around the city, which were surprisingly helpful for learning the lay of the land.
One evening, we went to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, which is located in Christchurch. While there, we got to see keas (alpine parrots), kiwis, and other native animals. They also had an informational section about the extinct birds of New Zealand. Some of the birds in that section were related to dinosaurs, and were so huge (and frankly, terrifying) that I was almost glad they were extinct! While at Willowbank, we also got to see a traditional Maori performance, including a haka – they even taught us some of the dances! Following the dances, we ate a hangi – a traditional Maori meal, which was absolutely delicious!
Over our first weekend, we took a field trip to Springfield, which is about an hour outside of Christchurch, at the base of the Southern Alps. The hostel we were staying at also provides tours of the area, and that was our agenda. Collin, who owns the hostel, was our tour guide. The entire trip was incredible – we got to climb around the rocks at Castle Hill, taste honeydew excreted from a moss on the black beech trees, climb to the beginning of a cave, (Which had a river running through it that was clean enough to drink from!) and see some of the places where Narnia was filmed! After dinner, we watched a rugby game, which was a first for most everyone else in the group. I play rugby back home, so I was able to help explain the game to everyone else! The next morning, we went to a local sheep farm and got to see sheep dogs in action, and compare them to humans attempting the same thing (needless to say, the dogs were much more effective). We also got to watch a sheep be shorn and got the opportunity to try shearing it ourselves. A delicious lunch was next on our docket, and then we experienced the Waimakariri River by riding it on a jet boat, which was an extremely fun experience. That was the last thing on our agenda, and it was time to head back to Christchurch and prepare for classes to start the next day.
Overall, orientation was quite great, and gave me an unforgettable introduction to New Zealand, which I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi there, I'm Sarah! I've lived in the midwest my whole life (moving around between Wisconsin and Minnesota). I'm a junior at Gustavus Adolphus College, and am pursuing a major in Geology, and a possible minor in Sociology and Anthropology. I play rugby, sing in the choir, and am in love with travelling and seeing what this great wide world has to offer me!</p>