Priscilla Nyffenegger was a student in the BA programme in Applied Languages with a specialisation in Multimodal Communication. For her 5th semester, she went to Auckland. She tells us about her extraordinary experiences in the southern hemisphere.

I loved New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes and beaches, but the best thing about New Zealand is definitely its people, who usually greet you with a friendly “Kia Ora Bro”. I loved meeting Kiwis: Pakeha, Maoris and Polynesians. Polynesians are not actually from New Zealand but from the Pacific Islands, such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Many of them live, study and work in New Zealand, and I ended up spending a lot of time with a group of Samoans. Even though I didn’t really understand a lot of what they wrote in our group chat on Facebook (for example „Malo lava“ or „Faafetai uso. Alofa tele atu everyone“), I loved spending time with them.

The best thing about spending time with Maoris and Polynesians is the food. There is always food. And I LOVE FOOD! Once, we ended up having twenty 5-dollar pizzas from Pizza Hut for about ten people. Fish and chips and a lot of Coke were also frequently on the menu. I looked forward to our weekly nights of junk food – with no vitamins or water anywhere to be seen! This is also where I tasted the best cinnamon rolls ever. Samoan desserts have more cream, butter and sugar than any other desserts in the world. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when one of the girls in the group suggested we should eat healthy food from now on. She couldn’t convince anyone, and I was happy to continue eating my friends’ „normal“ diet.

I also love my friends’ particular „island accent“, which is basically Kiwi English with a touch of island slang. And if there are kids around, you immediately become their aunty or uncle, and you are treated as family as soon as you enter somebody’s house.

Some of the beautiful Pacific islands are only a couple of hours away by plane, but New Zealand beaches are just as amazing. The beaches are probably what I love most about the country: clean, deserted, sandy beaches wherever you go. I found it funny that New Zealand’s beaches have warning signs (see picture) similar to the ones found on a packet of cigarettes in Switzerland. This is due to the fact that some of the beaches serve as roads. The best known beach is Ninety Mile Beach. Silly tourists like me (when I went to New Zealand for the first time a couple of years ago) don’t realise that (1) you can only drive on the beach when it’s low tide, and (2) you need a 4WD vehicle. Of course, my friend and I didn’t have a 4WD car and almost got stuck in the sand.

For me, driving and walking on the beach was more fun than going for a swim, because the water is always chilly in New Zealand, even in summer. That’s why a trip to the Pacific Islands is definitely worth it when you’ve already travelled this far. The beaches are just as beautiful as in New Zealand, but the water is a lot warmer. Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands, is to Kiwis what the Maldives are to us. And that’s where I went to relax after studying for a semester at the University of Auckland.

You can find more blog posts about students’ adventures on their semester abroad with the ZHAW here.