New Zealand: A Day in the Life- January 9, 2020

Submitted by Ilana Shmukler on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

There is no typical day on a study abroad program, but there is a certain structure that each day follows.

7:30 AM- Wake up. We are staying at the University of Canterbury student accommodations, and we each have our own room along with a shared kitchen per hallway, and two bathrooms. I am usually the first one up, as I like taking my time in the morning. I discovered early on that, sadly, the sunrise cannot be seen from the accommodations, nor from most other places in Christchurch, as it is a very mountainous region.

8:15 AM- Breakfast. The University of Canterbury dining hall is conveniently located just steps from student accommodations. While their breakfast pales in comparison to Caesar Rodney’s Sunday brunch, they do have an excellent selection of fruit- dried, canned, and fresh. I have never had a full kiwi (the fruit, not the flightless bird) before coming on this experience, but since arriving I have had at least one kiwi a day, and they are delicious. A typical breakfast for me is yogurt with fruit, two hard boiled eggs, and toast.

9:00 AM-10:15 AM- Class. The first class of the day is CIEG402, Intro to Sustainable Principles, taught by Professor Chajes. Today’s class was on climate change. We reviewed the greenhouse effect, carbon dioxide emissions by sector, and effects of climate change, among other things. The most surprising fact I learned was that roughly a fifth of all the coral in the world has died in the last three years.

10:15 to 10:30 AM- Break. Between the first and second class, we have a small break. Some people spend the break lying on the grass, or kicking a ball around the courtyard. I go back to my dorm to get some biscuits.

10:30 AM to 12:00 PM- Class. The second class is CIEG351, Transportation Engineering, taught by Sue McNeil. Today’s class is all about pavements. We learn about pavement materials, how they are made, and characteristics of pavement layers. Over the summer, I was an intern for the City of Newark Public Works and Water Resources Department, where I saw the process of asphalt being laid on a side road, so it was nice to see things come full circle.

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM- Lunch. Classes are over, and this is the time to have lunch and make plans for the day. The shared kitchen is very busy at this time, and I make a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich. We decide to go to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, as it is there that we can see the famous New Zealand kiwi. Since there is no bus that goes directly from our accommodations to the reserve, we decide to Uber in groups of four.

1:30 to 4:30 PM. Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. I thought the reserve would be like a zoo, but it most certainly is not. Many of the animals are free to roam around in exhibits that people can walk through. We walked through the kiwi exhibit, which was really dark because kiwis are nocturnal. New Zealand has no native land mammals, so many of their native birds, including the kiwi, can’t fly- as they had no need to escape mammalian predators. The reserve had food for purchase to feed the animal s- farmyard food, bird food, fish food, and eel food. Although I didn’t participate in the feeding of the eels, it was certainly something to watch.

5-6PM- Laundry time. The laundry room is conveniently an attachment to the classroom, and doesn’t cost anything to use. I still dislike doing laundry, but this makes it easy. After the clothes are done washing, I hang them on drying racks in the kitchen and open all the windows. By tomorrow morning, they will be dry.

6PM- Dinner. Sometimes I go out for dinner, but today I cook some tortellini I bought from the supermarket, Countdown. We were finally able to secure more than one pot, and other essential cooking utensils, so multiple people can cook at the same time.

7PM-10PM- Homework. Transportation homework is due tomorrow, and I am not even halfway done. A bunch of us go to the classroom, which is a minute walk from accommodations, to work on it together. There are four homework assignments due total, around one each week, so it is very important that they are done right.

10:30 PM- Bedtime. What a day to be.

Drying laundry in the common room
Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
Breakfast at the University of Canterbury