Hannah Spittler – Wurzburg, Germany
My year in New Zealand – studying at Wellington High School, while living with a host family in Wellington, has changed not only my life, but also me!
Thinking back, I have made hundreds of unforgettable memories, survived some of the craziest adventures and made friends for a life time!
Going to school at WHS gave me a completely new perspective on school and learning. With subjects like Outdoor Education (Out-ed), Photography and Hospitality I loved going to school. In a day I would do experiments in Physics and Biology, then after going to the swimming pool, rock climbing or longboarding along the waterfront in Out-education we finished the school day with a lesson in Hospitality, where I learned how to cook and bake a whole bunch of different dishes using different techniques while building up my knowledge around the kitchen. Apart from all the genius things you can lean here, the teachers are extremely nice, helpful and supportive.
Apart from “normal school” I was also able to join several clubs in school during lunch time and after school. For example I joined the tramping club, which gave me the opportunity several times to get out of town for a weekend and discover New Zealand’s native bush with others. Thinking back these adventures were a highlight of my exchange. I also loved being a peer supporter for the new Year 9´s which taught me a full range of tutoring skills and how to support others in the best way. That´s something I probably would have never learned in my German school. Through these and the other co-curricular activities I was involved in, I met a lot of new people and made some great friends.
Within the International Out-ed program I also had the opportunity to go with all my friends to TORA, Castle Point and Turangi where we did things like leaning to surf, diving for paua (a shellfish we ate afterwards), making a bonfire on the beach and eating marshmallows, going mountain biking, rock climbing and river rafting!
Throughout the year there were a whole bunch of ways to get out of town. I joined a North Island tour from an organisation in the first holidays. After Christmas I went on a trip to Sydney, Australia with my best friend where we watched the fireworks at New Year. Later I visited friends in Napier and Nelson, whom I met on the tour, I went camping with my family as well as visiting their relatives in Tauranga, going on Easter camp with my Youth Group, doing more tramping and then visiting friends and family in Auckland and Rotorua, which was awesome! One of the best things I did, was joining one of my friends, who started his own tramping club, on a weekend tramp to Mt. Taranaki and later on for a 5-day tramp in Nelson Lakes to do the Travers-Sarbine circuit. That was one of the coolest and craziest things I´ve done in my entire life!
After school, in my free time and on the weekends, spending time in Wellington was just the best! It´s not too big nor too small, just right so you can do pretty much everything you want to do! The bus system is, for New Zealand, amazing which means you are independent and can easily go out on your own! One of my favourite things were the Waterfront on a sunny day, rock climbing at Fergs, the Saturday market and the night markets! Apart from that this city has the best chocolate (Whittaker´s +Wellington chocolate), peanut butter (Fix&Fogg) and ice cream (Kaffe Eis) in New Zealand! (for me even the entire world!) And as a tip, research you interest and hobbies on Facebook and have a look around. There is so much to do and people are nice and welcoming, even if you are a bit younger! I joined an acrobatic yoga group with my friend, went to the Soup Kitchen to help there and joined the local tramping club. And on Friday nights it´s quite popular to go to Youth Groups which is an awesome place to make friends!
Here I´ve spent one of the best years of my life, I can totally recommend the experience. Use every opportunity and, don´t forget, you decide how awesome your experience is – the more you give, the more you can get out of your experience! I´m already looking forward to the time when I come back in a few years. I love this place and it will be hard to say goodbye.