April 29, 2019
Issue 04 2019

Life on Exchange

What happens when you take a girl from a small town in the Highlands of Scotland and place her on the other side of the world? My name is Hannah and I am currently 9 months into a year long exchange at none other than Massey University.

I’m currently living on the Albany campus in one of their self-contained apartments. I’ve got to say overall it beats the UK in standards of student accommodation. Massey University is fairly like my home university but with a few key differences. Lecturers at Massey are open to the idea of extensions - something that is not given to students back home - and 8am classes. The earliest classes start at home is at 9am and trust me, there is a massive difference in an hour.  My home university is the University of Dundee, Scotland.

Dundee is a small city for Scotland but is boasting a new and progressive landscape. Buildings are flying up such as the Victoria and Albert museum and there is a decent chance I won’t know my way around by the time I get back. My degree is an undergraduate masters in English and History and I am in my third year. Back in Scotland we study for four years, so I am taking a mix of second and third year modules. Massey offered me the opportunity to study courses that aren’t on offer back home.

Auckland is the most populated place I’ve ever lived in, but despite the vast area the city covers there are still large areas of nature to enjoy. Going for a swim at long bay or walking through Shakespeare park are just short bus rides away from campus. Auckland’s merging of different cultures means the city creates a vibrant nature for both visitors and residents alike. On the most part, people in New Zealand are extremely welcoming and nice - although many struggle to place where my accent is from.

Semester one at Massey was amazing; full of new friends, experiences and weekend trips to the beach and waterfalls. On one we even awkwardly ran into a full-blown Instagram bikini model shoot. The model posed in front of a secluded waterfall in the woods, while a group of exchange students and a family waited to swim in the pool that the waterfall flowed into. Exchange students in my experience become friends fast; you are all going through the same experience and you are on your own on the other side of the world. Most of my exchange friends from semester one were only here for one semester, but I’m already planning trips to Canada and America to visit them and I am sure they will be requiring free accommodation in Scotland soon.

Over summer, I spent two months travelling around the two islands; one with my parents and one with my friend from back home. Both were very different experiences as one was travelling around in a Toyota Highlander, staying in hotel rooms; the other was sitting on an intercity bus and sleeping in rooms with ten other people.

I have done all the touristy stuff like throwing myself off an AJ Hackett platform, and sounded remarkably like an alien from Toy Story upon seeing Milford Sound. I’ve struggled to find a downside to studying abroad. Hiking and swimming in freezing glacier lakes during the two months I spent travelling around was an incredible opportunity and I did things I could never dream of.

Spending my first Kiwi Christmas was also extremely interesting. I attended the Christmas in the Park event in Auckland with some of my friends. The idea of sitting outdoors and having a picnic at a carol concert is still one that is alien to me. So far, semester two has been filled with a lot of course work. But I’m enjoying the course I’ve chosen to study so it’s not too painful.

I still have three months left of my study abroad experience and whilst I’m missing home and my friends, I’m dreading the thought of leaving this country that been my home for nine months.

My mother told me there were only three things she didn’t want me to do on exchange; get a boyfriend, get married or get pregnant. Luckily, I’ve only broken one of these.

Whilst I won’t be saying I do or popping out spawn any time soon, the other option is making it slightly harder for me to kiss my study abroad experience goodbye.