My name is Madison Jones and I am a Junior Environmental Studies major. I arrived in New Zealand two weeks ago for my spring semester. Every day has been a physical and mental adventure, starting with the realization that I am on a tiny island halfway across the world from my home in little ol’ Thomasville, GA. Also, this island likes to shake, constantly, especially the city of Christchurch, where I am living.
Initially, I chose New Zealand for its stigma as the adventure capital of the world. You can surf and ski in the same day here, when the seasons are aligned. Truly, I am going surfing today 30 minutes bus ride from my back door at Sumner beach. Once winter arrives in May, I will be able to drive to the Southern Alps in just over an hour to test the ski fields. If you are looking for adventure, New Zealand will be your fix (or more likely it will encourage your adventure bug).
Since arriving, I have found another type of adventure in this beautiful country. The Kiwi (as New Zealander’s so adamantly refer to each other) personalities are kind, helpful and quite inclusive. I will share a brief example: Across from my apartment is an intramural field where pickup rugby, ultimate frisbee, cricket and soccer games happen constantly. A group of friends from my study abroad program started a game one night and within 30 minutes we were playing 14 v 14 soccer. The size of the group was not as intriguing as the diversity within it. Playing center mid for my team were Fran and Luis, from France and Spain. Two of my defenders were Kiwi’s. Right wing was Tak, from China. On the opposite team was Topic, from Equador and another man from Ghana. We represented 6/7 continents on the Earth in one pickup soccer game. The culture begs for diversity and inclusion.
If you are looking for physical adventure, choose New Zealand. If you are looking for a diverse group of students to meet, choose New Zealand. If you are too scared to be away from friends or family for five months, reconsider and choose New Zealand.