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

New Zealand: Three Days on the Whanganui River

Submitted by Eric Pedernera on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of  Communication…

It feels so long ago now, but looking back on the process we went through to become prepared for this program, I’m glad that when we got around to discussing our itinerary I wasn’t convinced by my anxiousness to back out of the program. Specifically, I remember vividly sitting in the meeting listening to the review of what would be our program and my stomach dropping. One point on the program that especially worried me was when I first heard there was going to be a three-day-long trip on the Whanganui River. Thankfully, however, as I became more and more accustomed to New Zealand and gained more confidence in myself, I actually started to look forward to our days on the river. What I didn’t expect to happen was that by the end of the three days, I did not want to leave! My experiences on the river and the Marae were some of the most fulfilling and engaging times during my program. From the first day where we traveled a short way down the Whanganui and learned about the iwi and whanau that currently live on the river and the history of the Maori that lived there in the past and ending up in the small town of Jerusalem. On the second day, we were given the privilege to not only engage in Maori culture, but to participate in their practices by welcoming our fellow Delaware students from KAAP into the Marae. Being able to say that I really engaged with a foreign culture so rich in history and tradition like the Maori is a really special privilege that I can never repay to the kind whanau of the Whanganui and Jerusalem. By the third day, we were excited to get on the river for real, and after five short hours of singing, talking, and sharing, we reached the end of our journey and said our good-byes. I don’t believe in regrets really, but I know for sure that if I had succumbed to anxiety and nerves, I would have regretted missing this and New Zealand for the rest of my life.

New Zealand: Modes of Transportation

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

This blog post is dedicated to all the modes of transportation I have taken since arriving to New Zealand.

In CIEG 351, transportation engineering, we were given the assignment of visiting sites in each major city we visited and using multiple modes of transportation to get there, tracking our progress as we went. Here are some of the modes of transportation I have taken.

  1. Walking. Oh, the joys of walking. Here in the city of Auckland, walking is a primary mode of transportation. From my accommodations at the University of Auckland I have walked to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Rangitoto Island Ferry, Silo Park, the French Market, and everywhere in between.
  2. Ferries. Taking the ferry is one of my favorite modes of transportation. There’s just something about standing at the front of a ferry, feeling the wind and the spray of salt and watching the land where you came from get smaller and smaller. My favorite ferry memory is the ferry we took to see the fjords of Milford Sound.
  3. Gondola. I took a ride up a mountain in Queenstown in a gondola. It was a very steep mountain, and without the gondola there was little chance of getting up the mountain. The view on the way up was nice, with sheep dotting the mountainside and small islands off the coast that could only be seen from such a height. While I did enjoy the ride up the mountain, the main reason I took the gondola up was to ride the…
  4. Luge. A luge is a small cart, a bit like a go-cart, with steering and brakes, that you can sit in and ride down the mountainside on a designated course. There were two courses, one fast and one slow for the beginner, and with our ticket we each got 7 rides down with the luge. This is definitely the most fun mode of transportation I have taken.
  5. Ski lift. Once we finished the luge course, we had the option of going back up to the top through a ski lift. It was quite unexpected, as I had previously associated ski lifts with skiing, but this one took us up the mountain with a luge attached to the back of the lift for every person taking it up. We had great fun posing for the picture in a different fashion each time we went up.
  6. Lime. A lime is a type of electric scooter that is most popular on the streets of Christchurch. It was an especially popular mode of transportation at night when the buses stopped running as often.
  7. Canoe. Canoeing on the river in the botanic gardens in Christchurch at the start of my program set the tone for the rest of the time. There were so many things I was anxious about when coming to New Zealand, and it was there on the canoe surrounded by people I now call my friends that I started to see how I could call this beautiful island home for the next 5 weeks.

Bonus: Today in transportation engineering we learned about slugging, a unique system of carpooling among strangers where no form of payment is exchanged. It’s common in metropolitan areas like Washington D.C., and relies heavily on person to person cooperation and trust.

Cruising on a luge in Queenstown
Canoeing in the botanic gardens of Christchurch
Seeing the fjords of Milford Sound



New Zealand: Trip Down the Whanganui River

Submitted by Rachel Sclar on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of  Communication…

This past week was unforgettable. We got to do a three-day river trip down the Whanganui River. The weather was incredible and the group chemistry improved, but most importantly, I really found out what it means to be part of the Maori culture. Our first day was mostly rowing, but the second day was devoted to learning, appreciating, and even performing some of the Maori traditions. As part of their culture, they go through a whole ceremony to welcome other people or “tribes” onto their land. We were taught a Haka, a welcoming dance along with a chant. Not only that, the group that we got to welcome onto the land that we had already stayed on for one night, was another University of Delaware study abroad group. It felt so special, and almost surreal, to incorporate this culture I have learned to love and appreciate, with my peers that I go to class with 9,000 miles away. In addition, I was able to get extremely close with some of the Maori people. Two of them were ages 17 and 23 – the same ages as my brothers. I was surprised to see how similar we are even though we live so far away, yet how different our cultures and experiences have been throughout our lives. Their welcoming and kind nature are definitely part of the reason we became so close so quick. I believe that even though I was only able to spend three days with them, we will definitely keep in touch via social media.


New Zealand: Life Lessons

Submitted by Danielle Lecce on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Animal and Food Sciences…

After four weeks abroad in New Zealand, I have been able to personally reflect on my life goals, values and personal health and well-being. Studying sustainable agriculture in another country has also afforded me several diverse learning opportunities. Not only has this program taught me to view animal agriculture from a different perspective, but to be open to dissimilar perspectives on issues in all aspects of life.  There are always several angles to an approach with each having its own pros and cons, but it doesn’t make one superior to another. Of all the life lessons I am taking back with me to the United States, one that I will hold on tight to is to explore more. Already knowing that the world has so much to offer, learn and see, I believe that it is one thing to hear it, but another thing to experience it for yourself.

There were several fascinating farm management styles reflecting the interrelationship of New Zealand agriculture and sustainability at each farm we visited. I was most fascinated by the rotational grazing platform here in New Zealand in contrast to the cut-and-carry system in the United States. I was impressed to learn that most farms rarely supplement feed and are able to grow all their pasture on the farm while also meeting the nutritional requirements of each animal. I was impressed by how animals are in a constant rotation through paddocks and the benefits this brings to the health of the animal. Likewise, I was amazed by the analytical data that goes into maintaining a nutrient rich pasture, and how farmers acknowledge their carbon footprint by incorporating crops that prevent nutrient leaching into the water table, as well as cover crops to protect soil quality.

Besides talking about agriculture and sustainability, some of the farmers talked about their outlook on life, which I found very meaningful and personal. One farmer talked about the value of family and living in the present, which I thought was a very valuable life lesson. Another spoke about the heavy topic of mental health and the importance of lifting people up, having conversations and lending a helping hand. His message is one that needs to be heard by everyone; while it can be a hard topic for some, it is the reality of today and through conversation, the world can grow together to understand weaknesses that lie within us all.

A picture of the students of my program, professors Dr. Griffiths and Susan Garey, and farmer Hamish Murray at his farm Bluff Station. He has around 32,000 acres of land and his farm includes the mountain ranges in the background.
A mob of sheep at Acheron Station, a farm run by Scott McFadden. New Zealand’s largest animal production is sheep.
In our last week, we visited Castle Hill. This is where the battle scene of The Chronicles of Narnia was filmed.

New Zealand: Beauty at Its Finest

Submitted by Mia DeRicco on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Hospitality Business Management…

New Zealand’s rolling hills and bright blue water captivated my eyes at first sight, and I soon fell in love with this country. In the North Island, Akaroa was one of the first stops yet it left one of the most lasting impressions for me as I continued traveling down towards the South Island. The first stop in the Akaroa Village was an Akaroa Farm Tour where I witnessed the shearing of a lamb along with sheep dogs mustering the mob of sheep and disciplining the stragglers up and down the hill. It amazed me how well the sheep dogs were trained that at the sound of varying whistles they did certain commands without hesitation in order to get the job done of herding the sheep for their masters. After this tour, we finished our day off with a dolphin tour on a private cruise charter. This was my first full day in New Zealand, so the views left me in awe ranging from the crystal, bright blue waters to the mountains and caves along the water that added so much character. It was an awesome experience to see the smallest dolphins in the world. They were smaller than I thought they would be and they all traveled in groups.

A five mile hike through the Abel Tasman National Park was my favorite day in New Zealand. The sights from the top of the trails throughout the walk were breathtaking. As I walked throughout the trail, I could hear a pin drop. The quietness was so calming. Here and there, I would here birds chirping or tree branches flowing in the wind. I could hear myself breathe it was so quiet. At the end of the trail, we arrived at a beautiful private beach for a swim and a delicious lunch. I am a huge beach person, so this day couldn’t have ended any better for me! The water stretched out all the way to a little island of land that you could get to by simply swimming. The tide went down and a sand bar formed up to the island where we could walk to it later in the afternoon. As I stood in the water and turned in a circle, the 360 degree views got better and better at each turn. The vast blue water extended for miles, the golden sand beach was only filled with my group, and the bright blue sky extended above me. I will always remember this day.

Abel Tasman National Park Trail
Tiniest Dolphins in the World on the Dolphin Tour in Akaroa
Beach after the completion of the five mile walk


New Zealand: Diving into the Culture

Submitted by Mia DeRicco on the 2020 winter session study abroad program in Australia and New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Hospitality Business Management…

A trip to Te Puia, a traditional Maori village, was where I felt most immersed into the culture of New Zealand! From the start, we were greeted with the Maori language and wooden carved sculptures of each of the gods, such as the God of the Wind or the God of the Sea. As we walked further into the village, we approached a geyser, which was absolutely stunning. I have never seen a hot spring before, so watching as water and steam shot up into the air out of the geyser was exciting. We also came across mud baths, which reminded me of the time I went in a mud bath in St. Lucia a few years ago and covered my whole body in the hot mud from the baths.

As it got closer to the time for us to enjoy a Hangi dinner, a ceremonial war dance was performed by the Maori people. The women danced with rope as the men handled swords. It was interesting to me how many facial expressions the Maori people use during the war dance. The men would end with sticking their tongue out in an aggressive way, which I feel is used to intimidate others and show their power. The Hangi dinner was prepared underground and witnessing them take it out was incredible. Who would ever think they’d be eating food prepared underground! This experience is one I will never forget as it gave me a better understanding of the original settlers of New Zealand, the Maori people.

Maori Wooden Carved Sculpture
Geyser in the Maori Village shooting up steam and water
Hangi food being taken out from underground
Celebratory War Dance by the Maori Village People

New Zealand: Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Submitted by Christina Le Febvre on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering…

I learned something particularly interesting this past weekend. We visited the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and did an activity called black water rafting through the caves. After being fitted with wet suits, our group of 12, including Professor Chajes, loaded into a van. The van took us to a spot where we practiced falling into the water backwards while sitting in inner tubes. We then loaded back into the van and were driven to the entrance of the caves. Our guides gave us three choices for entering the caves: option A, option B, and the mystery option. Naturally, we chose the mystery option and afterwards we were told that was the only actual viable option. Then, we proceeded into the caves.

When in the caves, we saw hundreds of hundred-year-old stalactites that we spent a lot of time ducking under and around while navigating through. We also floated around in our inner tubes through narrow caves and caverns. The most memorable part was when we created a human centipede in the water – attaching ourselves to one another in a long line – in order to be led by our guides through the water without our headlamps on. The reason our headlamps were off was to show us the ceiling covered in thousands of glowworms looking like stars in the night sky. It was breathtaking.

The thing that I learned that was particularly interesting was that the “glowworms” are not actually glowing worms. Rather, they are glowing carnivorous maggots. Calling them glowworms is just a marketing strategy because who would want to sign up to see glowing carnivorous maggots?

New Zealand: Life Lessons Learned

Submitted by Alina Roell on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of Animal and Food Sciences…

Kia Ora,
My name is Alina Roell and I am on the New Zealand 2020 ANFS Study Abroad trip. This is my final blog and I thought I should give my overall thoughts on the program and the life lessons I’ve learned. Enjoy!

I went into this program with a decent travel background, including places inside and outside of the country. I love getting to experience new places and cultures and learning about their history and current events. Even though New Zealand is not radically different from America like some of the other countries I’ve been to, this is the most I’ve ever been immersed in a different culture. By the end of this program, I felt like a true kiwi, like this was my home.

What surprised me the most about this study abroad experience was what I learned about myself. I have always been an independent person, but not to the extent of traveling by myself to a new country for an entire month. An important quote that I have kept in mind while I’m here is that I don’t need anybody to rely on, except myself. Although I did make a lot of new friends that I will always share a special connection with, being away from some of the people I care about most made me realize that I will be okay on my own. Being able to plan my own trips and figure out how to take public transportation and navigating new towns and cities in a new country has completely transformed my outlook on life.

New Zealand has not only provided me with a new perspective on my own life, but it has also given me insight into one of the most impressive aspects of this country. The agriculture industry here is incredibly efficient, sustainable, and profitable and I feel so lucky that I had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most reputable farmers in the country. New Zealand farmers have so many practices to ensure that the air, water, soil, and community is happy and healthy, but what I found to be most fascinating was that all farmers with livestock raised them almost solely on pasture all year round, with minimal maintenance and shelter. The effect this had on the land was incredible to witness because there was none. Seeing all these sheep and cows on thousands of acres of open, hilly land, with nothing industrial in sight except for a little wire fence was like nothing I had ever seen before in America.

One farmer that really left a lasting impact on me was Scott McFadden, and it was because of something he said. It was along the lines of “I know I’ll never be the best farmer or have the best, biggest farm out there, but I’m doing whatever I can to better my land, my community, and myself and that is enough for me.” This stuck with me because it is something that I constantly have to remind myself of in my own life. I often find myself comparing others’ achievements and work to my own, only resulting in more stress for me. But you do not have to be the best to make an impact in the world, and no matter how small that impact is, it is important to someone.

This program has changed my life and although good-bye is always bittersweet, I know I’ll be back someday. So until then , ma te wa , New Zealand!

Me after hiking to see Mt.Cook (snowy mountain in the back)
Me at Rossendale Winery during our farewell dinner
Beach in Kaikoura
Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall at Arthur’s Pass
Castle Hill where they filmed the final battle scene for the Chronicles of Narnia
Beach at Nelson

New Zealand: A Short Reflection On A Month Well Spent

Submitted by Abigail Cooper on the 2020 winter session program in New Zealand sponsored by the Department of  Communication…

Reflecting back on the month I spent studying abroad in New Zealand, I am filled with appreciation and gratitude for the world around me and the way I get to experience it. I have had countless opportunities to do and see amazing things while here and I am so thankful for each and every experience New Zealand has given me. In reflection, I would like to talk about two stand-out moments I had while living abroad that really influenced my overall experience here, those being the time I realized the impact of time zones while in Auckland and the time I made a new friend in Queenstown.

Way back at the beginning of January, my study abroad program had just begun and we were living in a hostel in Auckland, New Zealand. Being the very start of the program, everything was still so exciting and new and I really had not even had a chance to think about my life back at home. Then one night, I had some Indian food for dinner that really did not agree with my stomach, and so instead of exploring Auckland with the rest of my peers, I spent the night in bed feeling sick. I remember feeling so alone and I wanted to be able to call home to my parents or my friends, but since it was about 8:00 pm my time, I knew it was 2:00 am at home and no one would be awake. This was the first time that I needed to talk to someone, but literally had no one to call. I ended up just reading for a while and then going to bed, and I felt a lot better in the morning, but I remember feeling a sense of helplessness and homesickness that I had never really experienced before. This stands out in my mind as the first time I felt the impact of being so far from home, something that I am sure everyone who has studied abroad before can relate to. In hindsight though, I am proud of myself for pushing past the loneliness, taking care of myself for the night, and learning to be a little more independent. This is something that study abroad taught me that I am very thankful for.

Now flashing forward to the beginning of February, another notable experience that I had just a few days ago was rooming with and meeting a new friend while in Queenstown. Four girls from my program and I decided to visit the South Island for the weekend, but the room we were staying in housed six people, meaning there was a random girl assigned to our room as well. This is something we had never experienced before, since the other hostels had always just housed people from our program and no one else. We were a little nervous about this heading into the weekend, but now looking back I am so happy with how things turned out. The girl who was assigned to our room is named Louisa and I quickly learned that she is from England and is travelling for her gap year between high school and university. I made it a point to take the time to get to know Louisa and make her feel included and comfortable within our room and she actually ended up spending Sunday afternoon with our group while her other friends were at work. She thanked me multiple times for including her in our plans and I felt really happy that I was able to make her experience better just by being friendly to her. We now have each other’s contact information and plan to stay in touch, something that I am really happy about.

Overall, both of these experiences taught me about myself and how I can handle situations to make them turn out the way I would like. I learned skills in relationship building and individual responsibility, and really this just starts the conversation on what study abroad has taught me. I am unbelievably sad to leave New Zealand in just a few days, but could not be more thankful for the time I spent here. Thank you also to IGS for the scholarship that helped make my study abroad dream come true! I could not be more grateful.