The only real struggle I had before coming to New Zealand was the question, of how my homestay would be. I had a few evenings back then when I came up with the worst possible examples of host families I could end up in. My mind drove me crazy, but I thought you will only be ready for a great adventure, if you´re ready to face your fears. Arriving confident in Auckland, I spend my first days exploring my new city and I got to know the major spots. Everything was set for my first meeting with my host family. It turned out that they are just lovely people.
My host mom is such a caring and friendly person. My hostbrother shares my enthusiasm for sport, since he is a disciplined sportsmen and a successful cyclist. We came in touch amazingly quick and he showed me all beaches and main teen-areas around the suburb. When my first days of school were coming closer, I got excited to get to know new people and a new school-system. Before I always thought that New Zealand school is relatively easy and that the students are learning on lower levels.However, I got to explore learning on an academical level in modern facilities (far ahead of German standards) that provide all the equipment you need to achieve your graduation.
After the first football trials had taken place and I got the message that I had what it takes to make it into the first XI. I made a lot of new friends in my new squad. Most of my personal highlights were the matches, in which we faced other schools around Auckland on a competitive base. Our away-games provided me with the opportunity of seeing the other Auckland suburbs and schools, for example the high schools of the IGS Wedemark students Henri Lübbehusen and Magnus Thiele, which allowed me to have a look in the facilities of their schools. Since I rapidly sorted out my daily routine with school, football and my host family I started exploring the breathtaking countryside of New Zealand.
I started up North in the Bay of Island and worked my way up to the very top of NZ, Cape Reinga. A terrific cliff, which marks the point where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasmanian Sea. My further journeys took me to Hobbiton, the re-build of the “Lord of the Ring” village and the film set for the movies of “The Hobbit”, and to the city of Wellington, which is not only the capital of New Zealand, but also the most Southern and windiest capital on earth. I really enjoyed Wellington, because the city has an European character, where Auckland would be the Asian comparison. Taking geography as a subject in school was on of my best decisions, not only because it was the most interesting subject, but also because it took me on a class trip to the Tongariro Volcanic Centre. I not only hiked on an active volcano and through another film set of “Lord of the Rings” movies, I also made a lot of new friends in those four days. I used the two weeks of term holiday for a tour to the South Island of New Zealand. A great trip where I got flooded with new expressions on every single day. The landscape is impossible to describe with words, because it is probably the most beautiful place on earth, with its Caribbean like beaches in the Able Tasman National Park and the scenic fjords like Milford sound, where you can see waterfalls coming out of the clouds. In Queenstown I took my chance to jump from the Kawarau Bridge, the first place on earth to offer commercial bungy jumps. It was cool to face a fear on a safe way and with a huge adrenaline boost. On my latest trip I went to the Cathedral Cove beach where I walk and swam through the famous and natural hole in the rock, which is also shown in the “Narnia” saga. I also surfed for the first time and went to the Hot Water Beach. A beach on which you can dig a pool in the sand it will fill with boiling hot water that can be up to 65 degrees warm. It was super fun running around between our digged pool and the ocean (for al little refresh) for a couple of hours.
Overall coming to New Zealand was the best decision in my life so far, because not only did I get to know new people and made new friends, but also because I lived in the most beautiful country on the globe. I can highly recommend doing an exchange year, or an exchange year in general, even if you have fears, just forget about them, because it will all turn out just fine.
by Jannis Sünnemann