Wow. That is all I can say. I have only been in New Zealand for a few days but this experience is already so incredible. I am so happy that I made the decision to study abroad. I have met some of the most interesting people from all over the world. After surviving the 34 hour travel experience of flying to the other side of the world, my adrenaline and excitement overcame my extreme exhaustion and jet lag. I was introduced to 17 other American students who are also studying with me through Incoming Exchange Students (IES). There are students from all over the U.S. including Minnesota, Florida, PURDUE, and even IU… All of them share my sense of adventure and it’s crazy that we have all become such close friends already. I arrived on campus with my one jam packed suitcase, sweating from lugging my giant hiking pack as a carry on, and so excited to meet the people who I will share this experience with. After getting my key, I walked into my flat to meet my flatmates. They are from all over the world! I live with four guys (two from New Zealand, one from Germany, and one from China) and a girl from Scotland. They were all soooo excited to hear that I am from America! The whole housing situation is very different from America but it’s really cool to live with people who are from such diverse parts of the world. I am going to learn A LOT this semester. We took our first field trip to Springfield, New Zealand where we went rock climbing at Castle Hill, a natural stone sculpture that is also part of the set for The Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia movies. The scene was breathtaking (See pictures attached). Then, we went cave exploring in cave stream (this was probably my favorite part of the weekend travel..Walking along the stream we found this little cave that turned into being so long. We grabbed a flashlight and explored it. It was definitely one of the coolest things I have ever done). The picture attached is of me, Meg (the IU student) and another student Peter (he studies geology at Hope College in Michigan and has taught us a lot about the stones we have found…more learning!) The whole trip was amazing. Everywhere we walk and hike I am constantly amazed at the natural beauty of this country. Every day is such an adventure and I am so happy I am finally here! Kia Ora!! (that means Welcome in NZ’s native language, Maori).
— Mallory Rotondo, Senior, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences