My study abroad program at Auckland University of Technology is coming to an abrupt end. I left for New Zealand just about four and a half months ago, and time has gone by seemingly in the blink of an eye. While there have been instances where it felt that time was moving slower than molasses — especially right before my departures for trips and during exam weeks — it’s hard to believe that I will be boarding a plane to the United States within the week.
When I got the email declaring that I will be studying abroad at the University of Mannheim in Germany, I was beyond excited! However, from the point where I learned that I will be coming to Germany to the day I boarded the flight, it still didn’t seem real to me.
My three weeks traveling throughout New Zealand have come to an end, and my trip has left me in awe of the spectacular scenery and natural wonder of this amazing country. I spent two weeks driving through the South Island in a rental car, and then explored the North Island for the third week in a minivan modified to include a refrigerator, cookware and a small bed. My campervan journey through New Zealand was incredible, and because my words can’t come close to doing the experience the justice it deserves, I invite you to take a look at the best pictures I took over the second part of my trip.
One of the most pleasant surprises I got from the University of Mannheim is that students do not get one but two weeks of spring break! Once I heard that I was beyond excited because that meant I didn’t have to limit myself to one week of travel.
After a grueling three weeks of testing, writing papers and putting together presentations, I’ve finally reached the the promised land that is the two week mid-semester break. Similar to SDSU, at my university in New Zealand the due dates of exams and other large assignments are in quick succession of each other within a two to three week stretch. Consequently, the time before the beginning of the mid-semester break was stressful to say the least.
Before arriving in Germany, one of the biggest concerns for me was winter. Living all my life in Southern California, I didn’t really have a proper experience with temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and I most definitely did not have the proper attire for such conditions.
Last weekend I went on my first excursion outside of the Auckland area to a region called as Waitomo. It’s a place with beautiful scenery and much to do and see. I was drawn to this part of New Zealand mainly by the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a network of underground streams and rock formations home to bio luminescent fly larvae (they produce light and a sticky hanging substance in order to attract insects to eat). I found out about this area while doing my pre-departure research back in the United States, and after learning more about the caves through videos and local tour websites, I was determined to see the glowworms with my own eyes.
Last semester, registering for classes was intense. It was my first time learning how the system works in Germany and learning about the registration deadlines. But now in my second semester it was better because I’ve already been through it once. At the University of Mannheim, registering for classes is very different than registering for classes at SDSU.
After many weeks of waiting, numerous applications and forms completed, and a nearly 30-hour long journey, I am finally here in Auckland, New Zealand to begin my semester program at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). It’s surreal to realize that I’m actually living in a foreign country thousands of miles away from my home, California, where I have lived for my entire life.
My study abroad experience has continued on into Mannheim Part II. The Spring semester has officially started in Mannheim, Germany and I feel as if I pressed rewind on my study abroad experience.