These are useful facts you need to know before arriving to New Zealand!

You have chosen to study abroad in New Zealand and you are finalizing the last preparations before your departure. Travel insurance has been bought, vaccinations are up-to-date, and you have packed your mind with positivity and excitement before this big adventure. New Zealand is a country far far away from your home and it might feel somewhat scary to travel to the unknown. But don’t worry, our International Coordinator Elisa shares some inside info what to expect when living in New Zealand. The first thing to mention is that New Zealand is one of the most amazing places on Earth so you’ve made a good decision – if you haven’t, apply now!

Friendly people

Smiling people standing together with the sun on their faces in New Zealand.
New Zealand is famous for its down-to-earth and friendly people.  Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / CC BY

Don’t worry if you are going to New Zealand alone because you will never be alone. You will meet other students who are in the same situation as you. Just open your mouth and get to know each other as it is always nice to explore new surroundings with other people. The locals in New Zealand, also known as “Kiwis”, are super friendly and they are always there to help you whether you are lost, need someone to talk to or you just want to learn more about the local culture. So don’t you worry, everyone in New Zealand is willing to help you out and you will see friendly faces everywhere!

Feeling secure and safe

Two people sitting next to a bonfire at the beach in New Zealand.
Sit down and enjoy the night with a friend next to a bonfire, you can feel safe in New Zealand! Photo by Manuel Meurisse CC BY

New Zealand  is one the safest and most peaceful countries according to Independent. Of course it is always a good idea to keep common sense in your mind and be careful; don’t walk alone in sketchy areas in the middle of the night by yourself and so on.  But in general, you can feel safe on the streets and nature of New Zealand. Ps. There are no predators or super poisonous snakes or spiders trying to take a bite of you like in Australia.

Unique vocabulary

A woman wears flip flops and sits next to a suitcase.
Do you know what the word “jandals” means? Photo by Rui Silvestre / CC BY

Like many of us know, there are different versions of English around the world with unique sayings and vocabulary. New Zealand words like “bach/crib” (summer cottage), “dairy” (convenience store), “mate” (friend) and “jandals” (japanese style sandals, also known as “flip flops” by the rest of the world) are very common and might come handy during your stay. Keep your ears open and ask from the locals what certain words mean if you are confused. It is time to expand your English vocabulary!

You might be interested in reading: New Zealand – Breathtaking Places You Cannot Miss

Burning sun in the summer

A burning sun coloring the sky red and orange in New Zealand.
The sun gets very strong during summer so remember to use sunscreen whenever you´re outside. Photo by Tanishq Tiwari / CC BY 

The sun in New Zealand is very strong especially during summer and can burn your skin within minutes. Always apply a good layer of sunscreen with high SPF, wear a hat, sunglasses and cover your skin before going outside. Do not play with the sun as it can do real damage to your skin and might get also very painful. Don’t forget to carry a small bottle of sunscreen in your bag/backbag. Also make sure you have lip balm with high SPF so that you get to enjoy the sunshine in the safest possible way.

Always something to explore

A person is standing on the edge of a cliff.
There are so many things to do and see in New Zealand. You will never get bored! Photo by Erico Marcelino / CC BY

There are endless options and places to explore in New Zealand. You will keep finding more and more places to see, things to do and try, which might get a little overwhelming. Make a list of 10 places you must visit or do during your study exchange semester and focus on those first – all other spontaneous activities you can do on-the-go when you have time. Maybe check our list of the activities you should do while in New Zealand! 

The never-ending debate about the Pavlova

A white colored cake topped with raspberries on a plate.
Who invented the Pavlova dessert? Photo by Toa Heftiba / CC BY 

This thing is an interesting one; Australians say the world-famous pavlova is their creation, and New Zealanders say its theirs, so how do we know what is the truth? Pick the side you want to be on (ps. we are on New Zealand’s side..) and be prepared to discuss about it while in New Zealand. If you really don’t care, just focus on the most important part, which is the pavlova itself. Taste every bit of the delicious meringue, whipped cream and fresh fruits and berries, delicious or what?

Filtered coffee is not a thing in New Zealand

A person is pouring milk into a cup filled with coffee in a café in New Zealand.
A flat white is the same as café latte.. Confusing, right? Photo by Tyler Nix / CC BY

Imagine if this happened to you: You have just arrived in New Zealand and you walk across the street to a cafe and kindly order a coffee in this way: “Hi, could I please get a regular coffee with milk”. The barista stares at you and there is a long silence. “Long black?”, she asks from you. You don’t quite understand but you repeat your request: “I would like to get a regular filtered black coffee with milk, please”. The barista looks at you and asks: “Like a flat white?” You get super confused and you don’t know what to say. Dear coffee lovers, be aware of this. In New Zealand, coffee like café latte (coffee with milk) often called as “flat white” and the regular black coffee (also known as Americano), is called “long black”. Many cafes do have the international coffee terms (cappucinos, lattes, etc.) as well, but long blacks and flat whites are general options. You are welcome!

Interesting sounding places

Māori, which is one of the official languages of New Zealand, is commonly used in daily life. The Māori name for New Zealand is “Aotearoa” and you will see it a lot in the university, public buildings and areas. New Zealanders are proud of the amazing Māori culture and most of the places have a Māori name. Māori is a super fascinating language so if you are interested in learning something really unique, pay attention to your surroundings and ask the locals how to pronounce these unique places. Don’t forget to visit museums where you can learn more about Māori culture!

Morning and afternoon tea

A cup of tea and a book laying on a grey blanket.
Going for a morning tea usually means “going for a short break” or “it´s time for a snack session”. Photo by Toa Heftiba / CC BY 

If someone talks about going for a morning or afternoon tea, it is important to know what it means. At first, you might think of holding a hot cup of tea in your hand. But no, in both Australia and New Zealand, the morning and afternoon teas are kind of like break/snack sessions at home, school and work. So don’t get just thirsty when they talk about it – unless they are actually handing you a cup of hot tea! Morning and afternoon tea snacks vary from place to place but it is pretty common to have scones, muffins or banana bread as a snack and people do drink tea or coffee as well.

Good luck studying abroad in New Zealand! You are absolutely going to love it. Study hard, explore the surrounding areas and enjoy every single second. It is not everyday you get to travel to the other side of the world and study and live in such a beautiful place.

Find out more about studying in New Zealand

Asia Exchange is a Finnish company providing study abroad opportunities in Asia Pacific for students from all around the world. Want to get travel tips and new blog posts straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter! If you have any questions about studying abroad, feel free to contact us! We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

This article was written by our International Coordinator Elisa! 

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