Three months at the other end of the world

By Laura Thiel | Posted: Tuesday June 30, 2015

I have been here for three months but it seems on the one hand like three weeks and on the other hand like three years. Three weeks because the time here is flying so fast. With my four host siblings I never get bored and there is still so much to discover in Dunedin. Three years because I have already experienced so much and have a relationship with my friends and my host family as if I have known them for my whole life.

I actually don’t know what I expected when I came here, but I know that it wasn’t a school system like this.  School here is just so different to Germany. As you may know, we don’t have any school uniforms in Germany and we also don’t have Groups or Houses, no Assemblies and no Internals or Credits. Therefore we have exams all over the year and I am taking fifteen subjects at the moment in Germany. Nevertheless the selection of subjects is smaller than in New Zealand. We don’t have these creative subjects like Photography, Design, Drama, Media Studies, Sewing, Hospitality or Wood technology. And the only subject I can think of, that we have in Germany but you don’t have here, is Religious Education, which is not that important anyway for most of our pupils. 

During the lessons we are mostly listening to the teacher, who hasn’t got his own classroom but comes to our class, and taking notes. It is not very common just to sit around and work by your own, like I often do here in Logan Park. I enjoy being able to experience both systems and I have gained a lot from this. I especially love the big selection of clubs and activities during the lunch times and I have already taken part in the Hip Hop and Kapa Haka club and am a fixed member of the Badminton team and the orchestra. Regarding the school uniform I have to admit that I prefer wearing mufti, but on some mornings I am even glad not having to waste any thoughts on my clothes.

Although school is finishing later here than in Germany, I still have enough time to do a lot of different activities each day. I have already been surfing and Paintballing, have visited Queenstown and Christchurch, did a Hiking trip around the Catlins and at Silver Peaks, was in a Bird Wildlife Park and watched Kiwis, and did two scenic train trips. Moreover I took part on a boat cruise through Milford Sound, where I saw dolphins and seals swimming in the sea.

But the Highlight of my time here was definitely skydiving from four and a half kilometeres height and with 60 seconds of free fall. This feeling of freedom does actually not only describe this experience but my whole time in New Zealand. Life in a foreign country is just so much more exciting and intense than at home.

Yesterday I was tidying up my room and found a note which I had written before I came here. On the one side I wrote down my fears and on the other one my hopes and wishes for my exchange. I was pleased to notice that on the one hand all my fears have either been causeless or I did overcome them and on the other hand all my wishes had been fulfilled. I gained more self-confidence and self-dependence, am more open to foreign people and cultures and I am seeing some things with other, matured eyes. I am so happy that I decided to come here and can just recommend it to everyone else!

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