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Students walk along a beach in New Zealand

New Zealand, New Me

When I share my NZ experience I always say, “New Zealand, New Me.” I loved the person I became on my study abroad. I was independent, meeting new people, travelling to new places and truly living my best life!

Doing my study abroad in NZ was scary at first because that meant travelling to a country where I didn’t know a soul. I literally was starting with a fresh slate and meeting new people. I ended up learning so much from this because it made me realize who I really am.

Danielle floats in a rock pool above a New Zealand beach

Māori culture

The first time I felt culture shock came when we had our first day welcoming ceremony. We were greeted with the haka (a traditional war cry, war dance, or challenge in Māori culture). I had never seen it before and seeing the men with tribal tattoos on their face and their tongues out was such a cool experience that I definitely wouldn’t get in Canada.

I took sociology courses in New Zealand and learned more about the Māori culture in these classes. I was the only exchange student in these courses and I loved that because I was fully able to embrace the Māori culture and ask a lot of questions.

Family nights

I lived on campus with four other students. Two of them were from Sweden and the other was from New Zealand. Every Sunday night we would have “family night” which was all of us getting together and taking turns making food from our culture and sharing it with others. It was so much fun trying new food and hearing stories about why they chose to cook it.

The friendships I made have become life-long friendships!

"Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and trying new things was something I really embraced."

Danielle preparing to go skydiving

I learned not to be afraid of change. I learned how to dance in the moment and appreciate the process of studying in a new country. I learned that I am a lot stronger than I thought I was and that empowers me to this day!

I travelled to New Zealand for a semester and I left with so much more. I felt more connected to that beautiful country, it’s people, and most importantly, I felt more connected to myself.

Lifetime memories

I ended up travelling back to NZ in 2017 to stay with a friend I had met during my study abroad semester. I have also visited Europe multiple times to meet up with my friends I had met from the study abroad in NZ experience. I have been to three weddings, in Malmo, Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden and Vienna, Austria. I loved that they were in different languages but the shared language of love and connectedness made all three weddings so memorable. I loved reminiscing on our times in New Zealand and all of our cultural family night dinners and celebrations. These memories I share with my study abroad friends will last a lifetime.

I feel getting out of my comfort zone by studying in New Zealand was really big for me. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and trying new things was something I really embraced.

Danielle Buchanan bio photo

By Danielle BuchananCanadian Study Abroad Student

Updated 2 years ago

Danielle spent a semester studying abroad at Unitec in Auckland in 2011, as part of her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She now runs a life coaching company and is working towards completing her masters degree in psychology.

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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