READ THE STORIES FROM OUR NEW ZEALAND YOUR EDUCATION STUDENTS
DINA from switzerland
What an amazing year!! I got to see, experience and learn so many things during this past months. Thank you so much Lynda and John for supporting me, taking me into your family and helping me anytime. It was great having you as my hostfamily. There are so many things you did for me and helped me with, like Lynda cooking her beautiful dinners (John‘s pancakes being delicious too of course) and driving me to sports and activities and always being happy to explain anything in sports or on the news that I didn‘t get.
You helped me making the best out of my exchange, enjoying the time, trying new activities and discovering New Zealand, but also myself. I‘m gonna miss you very much and I already look forward to one day come and visit you!
ANNA FROM FRANCE
Kia Ora! My name is Anna.
A year ago, I left France to come to New Zealand, this beautiful, wonderful country. I stayed in Whanganui, a town in the North Island, with the ocean on a side and the countryside and the mountains on another. My host family was amazing, they had four little girls (8 to 1 years old). We were three students, one from Austria, one from Japan and me. I can tell that I never got bored, between playing, laughing, cooking or singing; I didn’t really get the chance to get homesick.
I went into a Maori school, with only 350 students. As well as the difference of culture, we had to wear the uniform; it’s kind of weird at the beginning, but you get used to it really quickly and enjoy sleeping longer in the morning and don’t have to choose your clothes. I have to say that people in New Zealand aren’t really trying to be your friend; they think your different. So, you really have to come out of your comfort zone to talk to them, don’t be shy because that’s the worst thing you can do. And don’t give up after a week trying to make friends because it’s obviously going to take longer, you don’t build a strong friendship in a day! I have to be honest and say that it took me a while, but I got so close with some kiwis that now, after a year, leaving felt the wrong thing to do.
In New Zealand, I got the chance to experienced so many new things. I got to try netball, waka ama, ki o rahi, and I had so much fun. I also learnt my school haka and performed it on stage with others international, front of my whole school. I have to admit, I was freaking out but I was so proud of myself afterwards. I also did a South Island tour, where I skydived and did a canyon swing; it was amazing!
Overall, my time in New Zealand was awesome, the things I have experienced, the people I got to meet weren’t only just fun but they also changed me forever. Now I have amazing kiwi friends in New Zealand and I know that when I’ll come back they ‘ll be here for me. But I also have another culture in my blood, I am French by origin and Kiwi by choice!
Francisca from Chile
Kia Ora! My name is Francisca and I come from Chile. I spent almost 5 months living in Gore; a little town located almost at the bottom of the South Island. It’s a really quiet place with a lot farms around.
I was so lucky to see many different places around New Zealand in such a short time; the landscapes were absolutely stunning!
I wouldn’t trade my experience here in New Zealand for anything. I am so grateful for all the amazing people i met during my stay and also some really great memories that Im going to cherish forever.
My advice for future students is to enjoy every second of your exchange because in no time you’ll be in a plane flying back to your home country. here to edit.
Morgane from france
Kia Ora, I’m Morgane and ten week ago, I left France for New-Zealand. I arrived in Blenheim, a lovely town at the very North of the South Island, with hills at the top and grapes at the bottom.
My host family was so nice and welcoming to me, I was very lucky. They took me to different places in New Zealand and they were always helping me when I needed. If I have an advice for you in your host family, don’t be afraid to communicate if something goes wrong (if you feel a cultural choc…).
I went to a school that was totally different from what I’m used to (only girls, wearing uniform…) but it wasn’t hard to get used to. I could choose some fun subjects like “Outdoor Education”. This subject was a really good opportunity for me to discover New Zealand. Most of the teachers and the personal of the school were really nice to me.
It’s not too hard to make friends but you have to talk to the other students. Don’t be afraid to ask to have lunch with them for example. I met awesome people there, even if it was only a short time.
At the end of my exchange, I felt so sad: even if I didn’t spend lots of time there, it was really hard to leave everybody I met.
I'll never thank enough all the people who helped me during my exchange. I had an awesome time in New Zealand. I learnt so much and I discovered so much as well. I’ll never forget people I met and things I did there. But, just a last advice, stay longer than me!
Luisa from GERMany
I still can't believe how fast the time in New Zealand went. I spend the last 5 month in Gore, a little town in the South of the Southland.
Before I came to New Zealand I was very nervous and I think I really realised what I am doing, when I was sitting in the plane above New Zealand and saw this stunning landscapes. But in the end it is not just about the beautiful landscapes, it is mainly the everyday live and the living in the host family.
I enjoyed living in my host family a lot and I was lucky, that they showed me many places in Southland. My advise for exchange students is to sign up for sports and don't say no to any school activities and you will find friends! I went to a 300-students school, what I totally enjoyed and I had awesome subjects like Media Studies were we made a short film by our self's. In the end just try to enjoy every moment you have in New Zealand.
Marie from Germany
Hi my name is Marie. I've been here in New Zealand for almost a year now. I really enjoy it here and I'm sad it has to come to an end.
I first arrived in Auckland with a delay which was a shame because we missed a lot of the Welcome Orientation. But even the one evening in Auckland was very well organised by Your Education and we got a lot of information. The next day I flew with three other girls and one boy to Blenheim which is my second home now. On the plane I was stunned by the landscape.
I loved Blenheim and my College right from the beginning. Everyone was very welcoming and helpful. I made friends really quickly. One girl asked my on my first day in class to sit with her and her friends at lunch. And now they are my best friends. I am so happy to have met them! I have so much fun with them! At the beginning I sometimes had to ask them to repeat things for me or explain them to me. But one advice from me is: Talk as much english as you can and you'll improve the most. My English got better and better and after a while I could understand almost everything. My host family helped me a lot with my English. They taught me some Kiwi expressions and some typical kiwi things like making a pavlova. I enjoy spending time with my host family a lot. I feel part of the family and I think that is really important. It is a big thing for a family to take a strange teenager to their home for a year. I thank my host family so much for everything they have done for me.
I especially enjoyed the summer in New Zealand. It was a cool experience to celebrate christmas in the summer because it's just so different. We could go to the beach so quickly and enjoy the sun! But I always had to be very careful not to get sunburned.
After a while you notice that you've become part of the community when you know the people in the supermarket and on the street. I was so happy when I got to that stage. Now I can greet so many more people and know who other people are talking about.
Overall going on an exchange is an awesome experience. It's not just about the landscape and traveling, for me it was more about the everyday life, the other people and getting to know and love a different culture. I'll never forget my time here!
Lisa from Austria
Kia Ora! Ko Lisa toku ingoa. I am an exchange student from Austria, spending 6 months in the beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand.
I remember walking in the airport with my family in Vienna, the first thing I said was “why am I doing this? Let’s go back home”. The thought of going to another country, living with total strangers and knowing nobody was really weird. It was the first time I was completely on my own. I was about to start fresh with no friends or parents who can just pick me up
Now, five months later, I couldn’t be happier that I started this Journey. When I first met my host family I was so excited and nervous, I was thinking WOW! I will live with these people for the next 6 months. I felt like a part of the family instantly and it was so great for me having two sisters, because I don’t have any siblings in my home country.
I can really say I found a soul mate in my host sister, Olivia. I have never met a person who is more like me than she is.
My host family always took me to new places and all of us are very open for new things, which took us to crazy adventures. Day after day I feel closer to them and I can say that I have a family on the other side of the world now.
My first day of a girls’ high school was scary. I was alone because my host sisters both go to different schools, so I didn’t have anyone to hold onto. The school gave me a buddy, who showed me the school and where my classes are, we became really good friends and now she is one of my best friends in NZ. Everybody was very interested in me and my country. I found other friends and also joined the hockey team! This also helped me to even more life long friends! I also attended the school ball of my host sister which was one of the highlights here. We had so much fun and it was like an American prom with big, beautiful dresses, ball dates and of course lots of dancing.
Beautiful and Adventurous are the two words that come to mind when I think of New Zealand. You never get bored that is for sure. I live in a town with 50,000 inhabitants, that was a big difference to my 2 million home town, but it is great. And yes there are many sheep’s and yes rugby is a big thing here.
It certainly wasn’t always perfect and great, sometimes I got homesick and I missed my friends and family, I knew it was important that I am not alone especially in that phase of my exchange. I sat with my host family all day and kept doing stuff and in the end I didn’t have time to be homesick, there is just too much stuff to do and to experience.
Thinking about leaving in two weeks makes me really sad and I try to avoid talking about it. Of course I am really looking forward to see my family and friends again, but leaving everything here behind makes me super sad, but I know that I will come back and see all these amazing people again and I am looking forward experience many new adventures in New Zealand with my host sister and friends!
The only advise I can give you is, enjoy every second of your exchange, your exchange will pass by too fast. It was honestly the best decision I have ever made in my entire life so far and I can’t be more thankful that I got the opportunity to experience such an awesome journey.
Gaia from Italy
Exactly one months ago I left New Zealand, I can’t describe how much I miss my second country, my host –family and all my friends. 7 months ago I didn’t expect to fall in love with a completely different country and the kiwi people like I did. I came as a teenager, I left as a young woman. I remember the long trip from Rome, I couldn’t sleep at all on the planes: I was so excited, scared, and I even think many times :” Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? Leaving my family and friends, for go at the right opposite of the world talking a different languages, running the options of not making friends, don’t being a part of the family and missing my life back to Italy?”. Yes I was terrorized but also so excited!
When people ask me about my experience i always answer :”Is the best choice I could ever do”, it is. It won’t be always easy, happy and awesome, especially at the beginning when you have to ask to repeat, when you have no friends to talk with and when you still need to get to know the family.
I lived my first month trying to be always positive, and it worked! My host-sister and brother were really important, we spent the first week getting to know each other, doing bike trip or going to the horses (They had two).The landscape just astonished me, I start to love since the beginning that beautiful country. My host-parents let me feel part of the family since I the first second I came home and that’s was the most important thing. The school was a girls college (so different from mine in wearing uniform,, no boys and stuff like that), the first days of school I made friends with all the international girls, I had no problem making friends with the kiwi girls. I waited for them to ask me to have lunch with them but it isn’t happen, so one day I asked the girls with the most interest for what I was doing and asked her if I could have lunch with her group, and she said yes! Never be scary of asking, it can goes wrong, but also so well like it did happen to me.
I went to their place sometimes and had some great times, it was so cool and unforgettable.
So many people were so much important for me, and still are, including the other Your Education exchange students from my school, they became my rock, the people that I knew I could run to for every single thing. We spent days together, cooking, hanging out , going to the gym (I recon it’s really important do sports because on an exchange people usually put on weight !!) and all the thing peoples to with their best friends! In this particular situation you don’t make friends, you make something more, you share with a person coming from another part of the world an important moment of your life, the one where for the first time you really walk on your feet.
What I can suggest is to never being scared of anything, everything is resolvable and repeat to your self “you can do it” because if you made the choice of living a comfort zone and going to live a completely one it means that you are ready to do it!
And remember, never compare anything with what you are used to, it’ just another country where different people live not in the way you usually do!
Roosa from Finland
It still feels unreal that my exchange year came to an end. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with New Zealand. I couldn't be more grateful that I got the opportunity to come to the other side of the world. I have no idea where would I be now without my exchange year. It sounds like a cliché but it really was totally the best year in my life. I learned so much you can't even describe it. I got friends and a new family that I know will stay in my life forever. I was happier in New Zealand than anywhere else for sure. So many times I realized I was just staring at nothing and smiling ridiculously. You get to experience more than lot of people in a lifetime. I did everything from surfing to milking cows. Those things are sometimes I'll cherish forever.
You have to remember that it's not just perfection all the time though. There is rough times like in life in general. During my year I made so many mistakes and learned from them. I loved so hard, got disappointed, cried more than I thought was possible and in a way it all made me to find myself in a completely new level.
My placement was literally in the bottom of the world, in Invercargill. Lot of people say bad things about that town but for me it definitely became my second home and I absolutely love the place to bits. People say "Girl can leave Southland, but Southland never leaves the girl." I feel so proud to say that I was a Southland girl. The Community down there is something incredible and you have possibilities to do anything you want. I had hobbies for every day, I explored the city from the top to the bottom, was busy with my family and friends and even did volunteer work at a kids event for the community. For future exchange students I'd say that open mind and no expectations is the way to go. Your exchange is just what you make it to be. Be active and involve yourself. Be the best version of yourself and I guarantee that you'll have the year of your life like I did.
Centaine from Germany
About 9 years ago, I was reading through all experiences and stories written by previous exchange students. I still remember how it felt, as if it was yesterday. I thought ‘that sounds awesome – but I am way too shy to do it.’ I thought my English wasn’t good enough and I wouldn’t really make friends – I didn’t know if I would be able to, because I’d had the same friends all my life - I grew up in the same environment all my life. This little, shy, unconfident and not-very-good-at-speaking-english girl finally signed up for this exchange year – because I liked the idea of it and because my older brother had done it as well. It was rather a “don’t think - just do it, before I realize what I have to leave behind for a year” moment. Leaving behind my daily life, all my friends and my family was too scary. I’ll never forget the moment when I arrived at the airport in Auckland – seeing my host family for the first time in real life. These happily-waving people. In the first few days I was still scared about my English skills, but what would life be like if you don’t say ‘pipe fruit’ instead of ‘pip fruit’. People are not perfect and no one expects you to be. Sometimes you have to dare to do the scariest thing you could imagine, in order to make the best experiences in life. I remember the last words of my speech which I delivered in school before leaving: “Thanks for the best year of my life!”.
After 7 years – this statement still holds true!
I made awesome friends and the most important thing: I have a bigger family now. You build trust and that never changes. My host parents didn’t only enable me to experience an unforgettable year on the other side of the world – they built a new Centaine. I don’t know how they did it, but I changed for the better. Suddenly I was confident – I mean I delivered a speech in front of 600 people! I did a bungee jump, although I am scared of heights. I’d never played tennis before and I won the singles tennis along with my first trophy. I joined new sports teams, which I had never tried before. I joined the basketball team, the cricket team, the netball team and badminton – even though I used to hate being the new one who doesn’t know anybody.
Trust me, these aren’t experiences that only last a year. After all these years, I keep in weekly contact with my host parents via Skype – sometimes even more frequently. They are my advisers in every situation of life, my best friends – and my family. I will never be able to pay back for all they have done for me over the past years. I can only express my gratefulness. My advice to you: Just be open to adapt to a different lifestyle and always be trustful and honest with your host family – then every little thing is gonna be alright!
In the end, my hobbies changed from ballroom dancing to Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts. You need to dare and you need to trust yourself. As my not-biological dad always told me: “You can do anything!”
I am going to be back for the second time next year – and the good friends I have, are still going to be there after all this time has passed. And I still haven’t decided yet, but I might be staying there for longer…
Well, you might not be as lucky as me – but if you don’t try you’ll never find out! My parents intended to invest in my education – but they invested in even more – a new life.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart, dear Brian and Marina!
Susanna K from Germany
Thinking back to who I was when I left Germany is scary. Within one year here in New Zealand I changed so much and grew up in many different ways.
With a group of approximately 30 students I arrived at Auckland airport last July. All of us spent three days in Auckland, slowly started to get used to the culture and had fun doing stuff like rock climbing or visiting a Marae.
On Sunday all of us got on planes to go to our host families in different parts of New Zealand. With four other student I flew to Blenheim (top of the south island).
During the following time I experienced all sorts of different stuff and had fun all along the line. I lived with my two host parents and one host sister (16 years old) on a farm half way between Blenheim and Picton on the top of a hill. At home and at a place called Port Gore (Marlborough Sounds) I learned how to: chase sheep/goats/cattle, shear sheep, catch wild cattle, possum trapping, pig hunting (with dogs), fish in the sea, file horses hooves, build fences and how to pull them out again because you and your host sister put it in the wrong place, feed lambs and calves out of bottles and light fires properly. I also went on different trips. With my host grandparents and Maya I travelled along the West Coast of the South Island, with my host parent and host sister I went on a road trip around the rest of the South Island and with my host parents I took the ferry over to Wellington. I also took part in an “International Programme” at the end of last year where we went to Hanmer Springs, Nelson, Christchurch and had fun doing other stuff at school.
At school I took subjects we don't have in Germany. Such as Early Childhood Education and Outdoor Education. I went to Marlborough Girls College and actually enjoyed learning stuff with only girls around. Everyone at school, including the teachers were so welcoming and friendly that I felt comfortable there after just a few weeks.
New Zealand has become a second home to me and I would always want to come back.
Emma from Germany
This time a year ago my big adventure started. My name is Emma and I came over from Germany to experience the cultural differences and the unique nature of New Zealand. That was one of the reasons I wanted to go on an exchange to New Zealand, in the end it was so much more than just experiencing the nature and the culture.
A year ago I packed my bags and left my home without even knowing what it was that I was throwing myself into. My adventure started in Auckland, where a group of very lovely Your Education Volunteers met me and other exchange students and showed us around. The first thing I noticed was the Kiwi accent and the effort people put into making my exchange the best experience I ever had.
After I settled in I became part of the community. I learnt how important it is to be open minded and not have certain expectations, because really, you can never predict what experiences you will have. I got involved in many school and after school activities and slowly became part of the community in Blenheim.
All the people I met in New Zealand were extremely caring and welcoming. I never slept in so many different beds in my whole life than I have during this year. The ‘welcomeness’ of the Kiwis made me appreciate my whole exchange more and even if you are the one making the experiences, the people in your environment have a big influence. I learnt the most from my host family and my Kiwi friends, who I will never forget and always come back to if I move to New Zealand one day.
Being separated from the environment you have been your whole life, of course makes you feel homesick. My Kiwi friends always helped me even if they didn't know the feeling, they gave their best to keep me busy and let me be a part of their lives. My host family was always there for me too. It is hard to understand, how complete strangers chose me - a random person from the other side of the world - to be a part of their family. But after a while I understood how much fun it is to learn about other cultures and habits from all over the world. I enjoyed telling and showing the people I met about my German home.
After host family and friends, school was a big part of my exchange as well. One of my favourite subjects is Outdoor Education, which did not only give me the opportunity to see many parts of New Zealand, but also to get to know a really nice bunch of girls and to learn new outdoor skills. School is just so different in New Zealand and even if it sounds weird, I enjoyed every single day at Marlborough Girls College. I got to experience New Zealand’s History and with taking music at school I got the opportunity to help out backstage in our Theatre. Marlborough Girls College gave me so many opportunities to make the most of my year here.
It was amazing to get to know a completely different everyday life and become a part of Blenheim. Even if my exchange is coming to an end soon, I am happy to have had the chance to come here. I am going to take so many new experiences and I cannot wait to show everyone in Germany the Kiwi in me.
Alessandro from Italy
Just one month or so ago, I was looking out of a bus window over the green hills that surround Matamata, and it was then, on a sunny day’s afternoon, when I realised that home is not a place.
I know this sounds like a cheap statement - too common to be anything but cheesy - and I have never trusted phrases such as these. Yet, I mean it when I tell you that, to me, home is a feeling.
I arrived in New Zealand more than one hundred fifty five days ago, after more than twenty hours on a plane, or to be more precise, on three different planes. I had left my friends and family, and pretty much everything else I knew, on a cold, European Monday afternoon and had landed on the other side of the globe on a humid, subtropical Wednesday morning, twelve time zones away from my country. I can perfectly recall the moment when I walked out of the airport: the air felt sticky and the cars driving on what for me, was the odd side of the road. At first, I struggled to adjust to the new accent and to the strangers sitting beside me in the car, but back then I had no idea of how it was going to be.
Now I can count the days I have left in New Zealand on my fingers. I have started to feel the pressure of time running out and, instead of thinking ahead, I find myself looking back. I wonder why, in more than five months, I have never really missed my family or home. The only answer I can think of is because I have found another one. All those people who went from strangers to friends within a matter of a few laughs, have in fact slowly become my new, chosen family, the whanau that has unconsciously sedated my homesickness, provided me with enough love to feel safe, even on the other side of the world.
As I write this I imagine the day when I will walk up the driveway for the last time, my suitcase full of souvenirs, un-ironed clothes and memories. I can picture it in my mind quite clearly. What startles me the most is that I have no clue as to how my life will be after I return to Italy. People often say that the hardest part in an exchange is diving into unfamiliar waters, starting from scratch in another country. For me, and for others I am sure, the worry is more about going back. I have no guarantee about what is next. I feel as if I am forsaking for good all the relationships and commitments I have made here - and yes, it is true that I can always come back - but it will never be the same. I am going to miss the experience. I am going to miss having hot chips for lunch at school, waking up at 4 in the morning to watch a football game being played 18,000 km away, touring New Zealand by bus, meeting amazing people. I cherish all these little things that have made my exchange fantastic. Now, almost at the end, I know that these will be the memories I will always keep.
In less than a week I will be on a plane, flying from New Zealand’s winter to Italy’s summer. I will be sad, but I will sit there looking out of the window knowing that it is not a ‘goodbye’; it is a ‘see you soon’.
The only thing I have left to say now to all the people I have met, who have helped to make this part of my life unforgettable, is a sincere and heart-felt thank you; we will meet again very soon.
Grazie mille, a presto.
Myrna A from Germany
Mine and over 30 other students adventure started in the Auckland orientation camp in July 2015. Though we all had jet lag and were tired, we all got a great first impressions of New Zealand. After my new family picked me up in Palmerston North we drove home and as soon as I arrived, I knew my new life just had started. I honestly didn't expect my first weeks to be that great. And I didn't expect the whole 9 months to be that great. But they definitely were.
In the last 8 months I experienced what cultural exchange is about learning new things, basically every minute. About dealing with completely different topics than I am used to from back home. About living with people that you don't know at the first place and to become a family member after a while. About meeting new people, learning the language, being a part of the town community and feeling like a kiwi.
I enjoy going to school so much, to see all my friends everyday, to join school activities and being a part of the college.
Even though it's nothing like I thought it would be, I can say it is even better.
I became a part of the Foxton community, the Manawatu College and even New Zealand. I can't imagine how hard it's gonna be to leave all this in a few weeks and I really don't want to go.
Not everything was perfect all the time but I learned to manage and accept things and that's what my time here teached me: to accept and deal with things and try to make the best out of everything.
New Zealand is an awesome country, with beautiful nature and lovely people.
Not to forget Your Education: I don't know what I would have done without Your Education. They always supported and helped me and made some amazing trips happen.
I can't believe that my days here in New Zealand are counted and I really have to say thank you to everyone who made my time here to such a great experience. I have met some many people that I will always remember and made a lifetime experience. I am so glad that I got the chance to come to New Zealand!
Kati from Germany.
Kia Ora everyone !
My name is Kati and I’m from Germany. I guess it is impossible to fit my entire exchange with all these memories, experience and adventures in just a few paragraphs. It is just to complex. But for you I will try to give you the best impression of how I spend my time in Aotearoa (maori for New Zealand).
I barely remember this little birthday girl standing at the airport with half of her life in a suitcase saying goodbye to her wonderful family to go on plane that is supposed to bring her to her most wanted destination at the other end of the world. But that was me over 8 months ago. In these 8 months a lot happened and always on my side my hilarious and lovely host family: My hostdad who is really jochlar and my hostmum who is alwasys there for me to help me figure out problems, to talk or just to hug me when I needed it. With my host sisters I share the passion for art and my little hostbrother taught me how to play Minecraft. Later I got another really cool host sister from Austria. But this family was not the only family I gained.
My high school. 321 students and 82% Maori became my whanau (maori for family) and enabled me so many incredible oppotunities. I became part of their amazing Kapa Haka group and I started loving all the dancing, singing, performing and traveling with them more and more. At first everything was a little foreign but with everyday I learned more and blossomed out in this culture. I really appreciate going to this kura (maori for school) and being a part of their whanau that supports me not just with my education but also in every other part of my life.
In addition, I travelled a lot. New Zealand has got some beautiful landscapes and sceneries that I needed to discover. First I got to see Cape Reinga when I travelled up noth with my Kapas (short form for Kapa Haka - traditional maori dance) group for Kapa Haka regionals. In October I went on a South Island Trip, swam with dolphins and everyday I was amazed by New Zealand’s beauty. I got to know new friends from all over the world. 3 Months later I went on another Trip to discover the North Island and visit some other exchange students. It was great to see how their live because every exchange year is different and last but not least the Wellington trip that I got to share with my two host sisters.
There is a saying: “ Exchange isn’t a year in your life, it’s a life in a year.” You start with nothing and within a year you built yourself another life with an amazing family, gorgeous friends and a supporting school.
I have improved my english and learned so much about New Zealand and Maori culture.
But especially I have learned to see things from a different perspective, fighting for want I want and how much we need to appriciate being around people who make us happy.
Ka kite (maori for goodbye)
Carlotta from Italy
Kia Ora! My name is Carlotta and I’m from Italy.
When I first signed the application paper for my exchange, New Zealand seemed so far away. I still remember how I used to think that I had ages to get ready for this adventure, but July arrived in a second. I found myself on a plane and then in the other corner of the world, wondering where I took the courage from. Wondering why a girl who loves her life should leave it to start again from zero, without knowing what is expecting her. I found out the answer after a few days I arrived: every part of the exchange is amazing.
My time in New Zealand was amazing, I left more than a month ago and I miss it like crazy.
I lived with a beautiful big whanau (family) next to Lake Wiritoa, in Wanganui, I guess my heart is still leaving there. They love waterskiing and they taught me this sport, they are the coolest and nicest family in the world and spending five months of my life with them has been amazing, literally a pleasure. I felt comfortable with those shiny people around, who helped me with the language and with usual problems in a new environment. My hostdad is very fun and he used to let me listen to good songs (he literally knows any song you can find on the radio). My hostmum is the sweetest person of the world, she trusted me and believed in my abilities. My brothers were so cool and my sister Lily is the person I miss the most, as we spent so much time together and talked of anything.
Wanganui High School gave me days full of possibilities, I made fantastic friends with whom I shared crazy experiences, I took part to activities, I went on trips around the area and lost my insecurity.
I had the chance to travel all over NZ, I went on the South Island Tour, saw amazing landscapes and cities, did skydiving, swam with dolphins, visited the settings of The Lord of The Rings, met cool international students. My host parents took me to Taupo where I did bungy jumping and to Hobbiton.
I could make the longest list of what I learnt and lived or just say the most important thing I found out: going to New Zealand has been the best choice I could have taken, I did the most of my exchange, I’m a new person now. A person who sees the positive way, who is happy no matter what today is reserving. No matter how many bad moments I’ll find on my way, there’ll always be better ones. I’ll travel as much as I’ll be able to, bringing these people, this country and all the aroha (love) it gave to me, wherever I’ll go.
Gabriel from Germany
New Zealand changed the way I think, live, and maybe even breathe. These past 6 months just have been filled with emotions that I think I wouldn't be able to sum up in a book as big as the bible. And Your Education was always there by my side, helping me to make decisions but never parenting me. I am beyond grateful for this service you have given me and so many of my friends. You enter this country and are welcomed with a huge smile and you leave it (in my case with green hair to shock my Mum) with an even bigger smile on your face. I believe it must be contagious. After meeting you people, from my host family, to the local YE'ers to the Big Bosses, I will not live my life the way I thought I was going to before I met you. Thank you 10000000x Love Gabe
Martina from Italy
Kia ora everyone!
My journey is nearly finished, so I'm using this free afternoon to reorganise my thoughts.
I decided to start my e-mail with a Maori world because I'm very fascinated by their culture, but this only a little part of all the new stuff I learned so far.
When I left my country (Italy) on the 14 of july 2015 I had never imagined how wonderful would have been this experience. I was excited and frighten at the same time, and this feelings increased the day in which I've met my host family. At the beginning tension could prevail, but then all becames so captivating and the whish to know more about a new culture climbs, and trust me, from this moment all will be fantastic!
I spent this 10 weeks in Whangarei, so even if was winter the weather was nice and quite warm nearly always except for the rain, but I found it beautiful too because of the rainbows. I've seen more rainbows here in NZ than in all of my life!
My host family is really nice and I didn't have any kind of problem with them. They are always helpful and they also take me to visit lots of stunning places. But even when we stay at home I never get bored because often someone drops in to see them. I'm really lucky to be here.
I'm attending Kamo High school and I'm good there too, eaven if it is so different from my Italian ones. I think it is easier because you have to study less subject, but on the other hand I think it is better since everyone can choose what is more suitable for himself. I choose subject I don't usually take and I find them interesting; my favourite one is outdoor education because we went to trips around the area and so I had the opportunity to visit more places. Both Teachers and students are usually friendly and helpful but at the beginning is quite hard make kiwi friends because in the school there are many exchange and international students.
I didn't give up and now I have a group of kiwi friends and we also go out together after school. The shame is that I have to leave New Zealand in few days, but I hope we'll keep in touch.
Before came here I thought that one term was a long time, but when you are so far the time goes very fast! I whish I could stay here more time, but unfortunatly I have to do my last school year in Italy.
My advice for all the future exchange student is to take this opportunity as soon as they can and once they've catched it to live fully every aspects of this beautiful land.
Emma from France
This is sadly the end...the end of an amazing experience in New Zealand.
Two months and a half ago I flew in from France. My first memory is to be astonished by the landscapes from the plane: green fields with white spots (sheep) and sometimes a farm hahaha. My New Zealand parents, Jenny and Simon and my local responsible, Mark were waiting for me at the airport. It was awkward because I didn't know what was the habit to say hello: hug ? Kiss ? Nothing ?
On the first Monday, I had to go to school. My fist day was sooo cool: friendly teachers, discovering of my uniform (very different from my own clothes), choosing of my subjects, etc.
Everyday I had learnt, discovered, met new people, tasted foods (I noticed we eat a loooot of meat in New Zealand and even in winter, it's ice cream for the desert haha).
My host dad was joking all the time, my host mum always had this beautiful big smile and my host sis, Lily was crazy as me.
After four amazing weeks, it was the time for holidays. My awesome local responsible, Coralene, organised mine: few days in Auckland then Rotorua in two new host families. I met Fiona, a very calm and lovely woman, her family and pets (a loooot of pets). Then the Buckley family hosted me. Here, I met two funny parents, Alain and Carol and two new friendly host brothers: Jorje and Nicolas. My holidays was wonderful !!
After that, we welcomed Carlotta, my host sister from Italy. I got on well with her since the begining. School started again: it was a pleasure to be back and see my friends again.
My four last weeks were sooo fast: I went to school, to friend's houses, to differents towns such as Wellington and I also did some sports (motorbike, watersking, etc).
Time for goodbye arrived, one of the sadest of my life but I will be back as soon as I can to live with this amazing people and in this beautiful country! My trip was exceptional and I would highly recommend everyone to do the same but longer of course!
Marie-Liesse from France
"Living away from home during one year has impacted me for life, it was a great experience. I learned to take in everything as it comes and not judge things by their first impression, and specially I learned to speak English. Experiencing a different culture and a different lifestyle is so interesting and will stick with me for life.
My host family is the main part of my exchange, a second family in the opposite side of the world is not given to anyone. I definitely consider my family as my own family and they treat me as their own daughter. I'm with another exchange student from Germany and it's great to share this incredible time with her. My host parents took us in holidays in Rotorua during spring break and did bungee jumping, saw the bubbling mud, swam in natural hot pools, and the best experience of my life: Skydiving! Then with some other exchange students we went to see the only white kiwi birds in the world.
During Easter holidays we went, my father, my mother and my German sister, in holidays in Mahia, near to Gisborne. We went fishing, went in the place where the sun first in the world. We had such great family times, specially playing board and cards game all together.
If you ever go on exchange you should really get involved in school activities such as sport team, or stage challenge. I personally wouldn't have time to do these activities in France and I'm so glad I took part of it. Plus you meet more people with the same interests/hobbies as you, get closer and make great friends. I definitely made memories for life."
"Hi my name is Nick, I am from Germany and I just had an awesome year abroad in New Zealand with .Your Education. I arrived in mid of July in 2014 in New Zealand winter. From the very beginning it was an awesome experience to meet the Kiwi culture and everything that belongs to it, as well as the Maori culture.
Right on the day of arrival, after a long trip to the other end of the world, we got a warming welcome by YE. We also got the chance of making tours over the whole country, which was maybe the best tour I have ever had.
During my exchange I have seen so many things and I have experienced a totally new culture that I absolutely fell in love with, as well as an amazing host family, that offered me more than I could have ever imagined.
This year has given me so many things and so much experience, so that I can only encourage everyone to go for a year abroad and have the best time of your life."
Nick from Germany
Frederico from Italy
"Hi, my name is Federico I’m an Italian exchange student who’s spending the most amazing year ever in New Zealand. I couldn’t pick a better place: the people are amazing and the location is awesome, in fact, if you are an outdoor lover or a sporty person, like me, this is heaven.
I am really thankful to my organization for finding the best family I could ask for, my host parents make me feel like one of their own children and my host brother and sister are just awesome, I love to spend time with them.
School is very different from the one I was used to, the teachers are very gentle and I made many friendships that I will remember forever even because of the various teams i’m part of: the Northland Basketball Representative, Kamo Football Club, Kamo High School Basketball team with who we reached the 13th place in the Nationals.
I would recommend a similar experience to all the young people and there’s no better association than Your Education for it."
I'm Lucy and I've been here for three months already. I came all the way from Slovakia to New Zealand at the end of the January and I will stay until November-December.
Even though it has been only a few months, I have already settled in that time. I was welcomed nicely from the very beginning by both pupils and teachers in my school, which made the start much easier.
Also, I did some amazing things here such as stock car racing and camping with my host family all within the first month. Thanks to Adele, who I met in Auckland during my camp. She gave me some information about the travel agency NZET. I chose the South Island tour and it was the best decision of my life. I did some crazy activities there such as skydiving and a helicopter ride over Franz Joseph Glacier. I met many amazing people and got lots of memories. I have seen Milford Sound, Lake Tekapo, Abel Tasman National Park and the beautiful town of Queenstown.
I am very pleased to have such an amazing host family with years of experience that have made all that possible. My host siblings are also very nice and there is always something going on. :)
Not to forget my agency Your Education, where all the people are competent and caring, so they know what they are doing. I'm thankful that they have made my New Zealand exchange program happen."
Lucia from Slovakia
Nele from Germany
When I first came to New Zealand I was overwhelmed. Seriously, this country is even prettier than on the photos that I’ve been looking up before I came here. In Germany we don’t have palm trees or a beach close-by, so I appreciate that here a lot! I love going to the beach in summer. One of the things that left an impression on me was the politeness and openness of the people here. Whenever you enter a store or restaurant, people would welcome you with a smile and ask you how you are. The people here are simple and not used to big cities, as the ones that I have at home, but maybe this makes them so family and friendly bounded.
They welcome you just as you are, I noticed that when I first came to my school. People would just come and ask me questions, which made it so easy for me to chat with them. It is obvious that not everyone I met will be my lifelong friend, but I can say that I found a couple of people who are important friends to me. Honestly, I can’t wait for them to come overseas, or maybe one day I’ll come back and visit them.
I had more than one host family, due to multiple reasons. I was so glad they opened their homes for me to stay with them. Respect for that! I loved it when they would take me places or show me their home and town, it was not only great to get to know more about New Zealand, it also made me feel like I want to host as well. Just like I want to give some back. The people here showed me New Zealand and their homes, so I want to show them my home as well!
Your Education was my New Zealand partner organization. I first really got to know them, when I first arrived in New Zealand. They organized a welcome camp for two days in Auckland and showed us around the city. It was good to first get to settle in into the English environment before facing your new host family! Sadly, I had such a jetlag that I was deadly tired during the sight-seeing.
They also provided me with an LAR, a Local Area Representative. Mine would later become my host mother. It was good to have another person other than your host parents to talk to. Whenever I struggled or had a problem with my family, I was able to ring them or write them. Even though my LAR might has not been able to solve all my problems, because for example I had to solve it myself, it was good to have a source of advice and a person to talk to.
Lastly, I can say that my exchange was a good one. It is definitely different from what I’ve expected, but I guess that’s what it’s about! Exchange is totally different and crazy, and I learned so much, besides new vocabulary, and I met amazing people.
There is one thing though, that I really hate about exchange: the goodbye. Maybe it’s not a goodbye forever, but you know it will never be the same.
I chose to come in New Zealand because I heard from everyone that Kiwis are lovely people, and also because I really love amazing place, and New Zealand is the most wonderful place I’ve ever been before: it’s all about nature, nature and nature… I love it!
About my host family I must say that there is no better family I could be in. For an exchange student the best thing to be worried about is exactly the host family. I feel like if I have a new Mom, new Dad, new brother and sister. Since the first day I was here they made me feel like a family member, they trusted me even if they didn’t know me and my personality. Now I’m starting to think about my leaving in July, and I realize that will be so hard to leave all of them, also my uncle, he loves me and I love him too.
I really liked the beginning camp in Auckland. It’s a great time with other exchanges and funny members of the Your Education squad! It’s the perfect way to break the ice, because you know, you have a lot of flight hours behind you, you’re a little bit confused and also “scared” about what is going on. The support is very good, I’m always in contact with my LAR, she habitually calls me or texts me to see if there are any “problems” or stuff like that.
Tommoso from Italy
Sophia from Germany
When I came to New Zealand I arrived with sort of mixed feelings. On one side I was really excited and super nervous but I also didn’t want to have too high expectations.
I couldn’t wait to meet my host family and at this point I couldn’t have asked for a better one. They have treated me like a part of their family from day one on and it just feels like I fit in perfectly. I count myself as very lucky because I know this doesn’t always happen.
When I think about my exchange, there’s nothing I would change so far. I have taken every chance I got and tried everything I was able to do. I am definitely experiencing and living the Kiwi life with my host family. New Zealand has become my second home. It’s just a gorgeous country and I really enjoy having a lot of nature, the typical green hills and heaps of sheep around me, for a change.
I live a bit out of town, out in the country, so I’ve been able to experience a wee bit of the Kiwi farm life. We got two little lambs a few weeks after I got here and I remember going out at 10 o'clock at night walking through the cow paddock in gumboots with the warm milk bottles in our hands - something I would have never done back in Germany. Of course it is different but a great thing to experience and I couldn’t say I like it less than the busy city life.
What I also love about New Zealand is the people. The way they communicate, their attitude and how they hold together as a country is awesome. Everyone is very welcoming and ‘kicked back’ as a Kiwi would say. Your Education and my host family have helped me a lot to get on the right track since I’m here. I learnt how important it is to communicate well and being open to everything.
My first day of school went really well. I made friends so quickly and everyone included me without hesitating. Seeing I go to a small school I got to know many people very easily which made school feel more like a little family rather than a place where everyone just comes and goes.
My English improved pretty fast after spending so much time with all those talkative Kiwis. One day I met up with a friend and we hung out at a lake and I remember my mouth being sore at the end of the day from speaking so much English. Maybe because of a lot of laughing as well. I definitely made some awesome friends. There’s certainly heaps of little memories that are putting a smile on face thinking about them now. I’ve been having an amazing time.
My host family and Your Education have given me all the support I needed and I enjoyed the meetings at Coralene’s place (my Local Area Representative in little Whanganui) with everyone. It’s always been nice to catch up with everybody. It was also pretty cool to have the opportunity to do trips to places that Your Education had organised for us to see a bit of New Zealand.
It’s going to be tough leaving this country but I’m sure I made an experience that has changed my life a lot, in a very positive way. I’m really grateful for the people that have made this possible for me and have given me a great time I will never forget.
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