The really awesome thing about going to the Southern hemisphere for your exchange is that you get the whole summer break between the two semesters you are there. At the University of Auckland, where I am currently spending my year abroad, that means almost 4 months – I had my last exam on 10th of November 2018 and I was free until the 4th of March 2019! To be honest, I was a bit nervous of having so much time off on my own on the other side of the world, but it turned out to be the best summer ever.
I chose not to fly back home to Europe because it’s very expensive, because New Zealand is so beautiful in the summer and I didn’t want to miss out, and because my family decided to visit for Christmas. I spend the first two months and a half of my summer break traveling back to back, which was awesome but also tiring. I was really lucky I got to do so many things and I am very grateful that I met people to do it with and that I got to spend time with my family.
After I finished my exams, I flew to Australia for a week with two American exchange students I met during the first semester. We visited Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney. I was excited that I got to see the Sydney opera in real life, it always seemed so far away and unreachable. We also went to a koala sanctuary in Brisbane and I got to hold a koala! A week is really nothing compared to the vastness of Australia, but at least we got a taste. After a day back in Auckland my big New Zealand South Island trip started. Two friends from my student accommodation and I flew to Nelson, which is a town in the north of the South Island. We rented a car and drove along the west coast towards Queenstown in 7 days. My friends flew back to Auckland at that point, and I flew to Christchurch to meet some other friends and travelled with them a further 10 days. We spend some time in Christchurch, drove to Mt. Cook national park, visited Dunedin and Caitlins national park. On the 10th of December I flew back to Auckland, as my family arrived on the 13th. I was really happy to see them after 6 months. We rented a car and had a big New Zealand road trip through a bit of the north but mostly the south island. We came back to Auckland a bit before New Year, and on New Year’s Eve my mother and sisters flew back home. My dad and me went to Cook Islands for a week, that was really interesting culturally as I haven’t experienced a lot of Pacific culture before. We returned to Auckland and spend the next 10 days camping in the north of New Zealand’s north island. The ocean was really warm at that point, so we had a really nice time swimming, fishing and hiking in the beautiful New Zealand nature.
After my dad left, I was left alone in Auckland. I wanted to get a job, but I could only get it for a month as the classes would start after, so it was hard. All my friends were either home or travelling, so I had a bit of a crisis figuring out what to do. The crisis didn’t last very long though, I quickly found some people to go around Auckland with, I visited Raglan, a cute little surfing village two hours south, Waiheke Island which is in the Hauraki gulf, and a music festival in Auckland. In February my friends started to return, and we then went to the beach a lot, to the museums and art gallery, and just hung around. By the end of February, I found myself actually a bit excited that classes were starting again, which I think is one of the goals of vacation – to rediscover why you actually go to Uni.
The summer flew by as summers have the habit of doing, and now the routine of classes is back with the full force. It is still very warm outside, which makes a bit less bad, and you can go to the beach after class which is something I have always wanted to do! New Zealand is a dream come true for sure.
Here are some pictures ….