For the Overseas program, I taught in a Year 2 classroom in New Zealand. My school and homestay were in Mairangi Bay, which is about 20 minutes north of Auckland. The highlight of my time at the school was having a water gun fight with a group of 5-year-old boys during Aquatics Day, and by helping my class perform “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical for their end-of-year concert. For my personal travels, I enjoyed seeing where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed at Hobbiton, and taking a boat ride through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
The host culture:
My favorite part about the host culture was the friendliness of the people and the beauty of the landscape. I spent countless hours at the beach, talking with the locals while eating fish and chips or ice cream. I am from Wisconsin, so it also didn’t hurt to be surrounded by warm weather and a tropical environment. Another part of the culture that was interesting for me was the nation’s passion for rugby. I actively follow multiple sports team when I am home, so I was excited to learn about rugby and watch a few matches on TV.
The most challenging part about living in New Zealand was being so far from my family and friends, since this was my first time traveling out of the country on my own. The 18-hour time difference also made it difficult to communicate with everyone back home, but I appreciated the opportunity to grow my independence. As for teaching, I initially struggled with the difference of standards and formal curriculum, because I was unsure of how to plan lessons. However, I quickly became comfortable with the school’s structure, and I enjoyed the flexibility I had as a teacher.