This post is the first in our new Q&A Spotlight Series on returning students.You can find this story and all future spotlights by searching in the category “Q&A Spotlight.” Enjoy!
Name: Nate Moran
Major: Business Administration, ‘13
Hometown: Middletown, DE
Destination: New Zealand, Spring 2013
Institution: Auckland University of Technology
Be sure to check out Nate’s YouTube video from his experience here.
Q1: Let’s talk about food – the good & the bad.
Actually, the best dish I had while in New Zealand was from a Brazilian place. The restaurant was Brazilian but the steak was New Zealand beef…which was fantastic. The chicken, beef, and lamb are all great in New Zealand. The Kiwis are well-known for these meats, especially because everything is free-range. We took part in traditional Maori (New Zealand’s indigenous culture) feast, called a “Hāngi”; this is a Polynesian-style cooking in a pit under the ground. All sorts of meats, vegetables, potatoes, and kumara (the Maori sweet potato) are slow-cooked throughout the entire day under the ground.
Q2: Your favorite spot in your home away from home?
Talk about a hard question. New Zealand is well known for so much beautiful terrain wherever you go, North or South Island. Although I have many favorite spots, I’d say that the Bay of Islands (in the Northland Region) was the coolest place I’ve ever been to. We took a rental boat and hopped around uninhabited islands all day long. We were able to experience great hikes and beautiful waters.
Q3: A local favorite?
My ‘claim to fame’ is the Happy Hour spot I was told about early on in Auckland City—Spitting Feathers. It was definitely a hard-to-find local place with a lot of young professionals. The deals were great and we filled our stomachs with a lot of pizza and beer. However, I have to say that Ponsonby Central was the best place that we were recommended. This place was full of locals and such a great atmosphere. The marketplace is filled with great restaurants, bakeries, shops, art galleries, and more. Ponsonby was my favorite place in the city.
Q4: Anything you DON’T miss from NZ?
Not one thing. Life was good and everyone in New Zealand was so laid back. If I was ever presented the opportunity, I could definitely see myself living there. For a backpacker, this place is the most ideal spot you can be in the world—snowy mountains, pristine beaches, and a bit of urban culture.
Q5: Homesick for anything from NZ?
The entire experience in itself. As I sit down to write this after a full week of work, I realize that we had no limits being abroad. I took my classes serious there, but also had so much time to explore other parts of the world and different cultures. Being able to pick up and go to the mountains or the beach on the weekends is dearly missed. Regardless of taking classes, we had so much free time to explore every street in Auckland, attend any big event, and go tramping (New Zealand’s word for hiking/exploring) on the weekends.
Q6: Pick up any new vocabulary while abroad?
“Kia-ora, bro. Are you keen to go tramping with me this weekend?—That would be sweet bro, but I have a rugby game.” The dialect of a New Zealander is kind of like that of an Australian, but with a relaxed vibe. I learned quit e a few slang words while attempting to blend in as a kiwi. I also learned various Maori words in my Maori Leadership course. Kia ora is an informal “hi”, but literally means “be well/healthy.”
Q7: You could hardly believe your eyes when you saw …
I was real shocked when I went to a New Zealand rugby match against France. Considering this was a World Cup rematch, the game at Eden Park stadium (Auckland, NZ) was a huge deal. Although this is by far the number one sport in New Zealand, the fans act very different than what I expected. The stadium was quiet and fans paid attention to every detail of the game. Cheering typically happens right after a team scores, and that’s it—nothing in between. It is not like American football where people are constantly cheering.
Q8: How did you manage your weekends?
We tried to take advantage of every weekend. Packing our backpacks and heading to the dairy (supermarket) to stock up on food was something I looked forward to. We traveled all over New Zealand on our weekends. Hiking/Camping in the Coromandel Peninsula, touring vineyards in Hawkes Bay, taking the ferry to Waiheke Island, tramping around the volcano from the Lord of the Rings, and many more activities were completed during our weekends. We chose ones that looked exciting and just went for it. We didn’t get to do everything, but I still feel very accomplished.
Q9: What challenged you while you were abroad?
I’d say the toughest day I had in New Zealand was the day of my finals, because it was very stressful for me. The three classes I took in Auckland were actually the last three courses for the completion of my degree. I needed to perform well in my classes abroad in order to graduate. I ended up doing well in my classes, so all is well. I think the toughest part of studying abroad is coming home and realizing that your semester abroad is completed.
Q10: Parting words?
I highly recommend visiting New Zealand because it was an amazing place. You also might be able to experience other places such as Australia and Fiji. Overall, go to a place that will let you break free from the norm. Meeting new people and trying to adapt to new cultures is a fun obstacle to take on, and can be very beneficial in the long run. This was no doubt the best experience I’ve ever had. Any step you take, it will always be a step forward in a particular direction. Get out and explore!