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Exploring a New Life in New Zealand

It has been exactly 2 months, 3 days, and 5 hours since I hopped off my 13-hour plane ride and moved to New Zealand for my semester abroad. Also known as the “land of the long white cloud,” this country has continued to skyrocket my expectations every single day. I currently reside in Dunedin on the east coast of the south island and am attending the University of Otago.

As you can see from the photo above, I live with four other people, Andrew and Sarah, both American, Freddy, my kiwi host, and Corentin from Hong Kong, in a two-story house on the infamous “Castle Street.” We love to bond over an occasional Scrumpy (yes, that green bottle in our hands), as it is a popular drink in New Zealand.

Since arriving, I have met some of the most beautiful and adventurous people, not just from New Zealand and the United States, but over all parts of the world including Canada, Netherlands, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, etc. Not to mention, I have had the most crazy experiences whether that includes piercing my ear with a safety pin in a hostel bathroom with my friends, buying a red Honda Odyssey van with seven others and naming it the “stag wag,” or skydiving over mountains in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.

Even though I only have two months left of enjoying my time here, there is still so much I need to learn and explore. So far, I have come of with a list of the things I’ve learned most since coming to NZ:

  1. The accents: there are many variations of the kiwi accent depending on where people are from…just like in the states

  2. The legal drinking age here is 18….BUT

  3. Alcohol is much more expensive

  4. People are SO friendly. And this is an understatement.

  5. NZ is way safer than the US meaning…

  6. We NEVER lock our doors (both house and car)

  7. I can see the Milky Way!

  8. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a hot pie

  9. We drive on the left side of the road in NZ

  10. Drivers will not slow down for pedestrians…so run fast

  11. Fence hopping is a skill you need to know

  12. Marmite requires a taste palate I do not have

  13. There is a difference between a kiwi, a kiwifruit, and a kiwi bird

  14. The US dollar to NZ dollar ratio is AMAZING

  15. No taxes! And no tipping! But don’t let this fool you because…

  16. Everything is so expensive in general

  17. The scenery is insane, no editing or filters needed

  18. Very laid back lifestyle

  19. No school assignments…just papers and exams

  20. Exams are usually worth 50% or more of your grade

  21. The gender gap is very small (ex. Mixed housing is normal)

  22. Kiwis don’t share rooms…yes I have my own room here

And Lastly…

  1. The Lingo –here are some examples of phrases and words used most frequently:

  • Kia Ora!: Hello!

  • Sweet as: Cool, Awesome, OK

  • Chips: French Fries

  • Piss: Alcohol (ex. “He’s on the piss tonight”)

  • Taking the piss: to make fun or make a joke

  • Mate: Friend

  • Scrumpy: The notorious, cheap, 1 liter plastic bottle of choice for drinking in NZ

  • Tramping: Hiking

  • Togs: Swimsuit

  • Aye/Eh: randomly said at the end of a sentence (Ex. “It was hot today, eh”)

  • Red Card: an event (most likely drinking related) that a flatmate can throw once during the year usually as a flat bonding experience

  • Yah, nah: a hesitated yes, but ultimately a no

  • Maccas: McDonald’s

  • Jumper: Sweatshirt

  • BYO: a dinner gathering at a restaurant where you can bring a bottle of wine and play “Save the Queen” with your friends

  • Save the Queen: the object of the game is to sneakily put a New Zealand coin in someone’s wine glass without them knowing. Then they must proceed the “save the queen” by chugging the rest of the wine in the glass.

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