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work and travel

High School in New Zealand

My stay in the country of the long white cloud

Anna profil

A short exchange program in the United Kingdom made me curious to discover the world! I wanted to find out what it is like to live abroad for some time and to explore a foreign country and culture.

My host family Down Under

When I finally scheduled a Skype meeting with my future host family, I was very exited! I could not believe to virtually meet the family I was going to live with for the next months. Indeed, a couple of seconds later I found myself talking to three members of this lovely family. Two sons, one daughter and three cute cats also belonged to the family.

My new home was located in Palmerston North on the North Island, a cute town about 2 hours driving from the capital city Wellington. After three days of orientation workshop, I finally arrived in Palmerston North. My first positive impression was right, my host family picked me up…

High School

Soon after my arrival, high school started with my new everyday life. In the mornings, we met with our „Whanau Class“. „Whanau“ is a Maori word and means „family“. Students of different ages came together to exchange news with their “Whanau teacher”, our liaison teacher. Thanks to the impressive engagement of the teachers my schedule was diverse: Spanish, Tourism, Practical Music, Greek Studies, Food & Nutrition as well as Physical Education. Not only the subjects seemed exciting and extraordinary to me, I also enjoyed meeting people from so many different countries and cultural backgrounds. I am very thankful for all the friends I made from all over the world.   

My free time

During school breaks and on weekends my host parents introduced me to the advantages of living in New Zealand: bike tours along the Manawatu River, hiking in the mountains, passing waterfalls and green meadows full of sheep, week-end trips to surrounding cities. It was breath-taking. During the week I sometimes went to the cinema or shopping with friends. I couldn’t leave without a few souvenirs to remind me of the great time. I was captured by the Kiwi’s relaxed way of life.  

Best trip: heading South!

Not only with my host family also with other internationals I discovered the country that Maoris call “country of the long white cloud”. Together with a group of excited young people from all over the world we started to visit beautiful places at New Zealand’s South Island. Amazed by the clean and pure lakes, diverse landscape and impressive coasts, I was especially captivated by the little town Kaikoura and its diverse landscape. The sea with stony beach, green trees and snow-covered mountains were combined at one place. After diving with dolphins, we were having a sun bath, of course, our skin still covered by salt from the sea. And the traditional Maori meal “Hangi” tasted so well as it is cooked in underground ovens for a couple of hours.

Each time we travelled to a new town, slept in a different accommodation. These were mostly lodges hosted by locals. As autumn was coming, we enjoyed the sun during the day and gathered around the campfire at night. On other days we sat around the fireplace inside the house and exchanged our stories about experiences during our adventures abroad.  No matter how diverse we were, our journeys abroad united us. Those of us who were really brave even dared the Canyon Swing with a jump from the cliff in Queenstown. Of course we all took applicable insurance coverage for our trip with us. When it was time for our last dinner, we all felt as if we had spent a lot more than two weeks together.


Would I travel to New Zealand as High School student again? Everyone, including myself, surely answers with a definite “Yes!”. My host family and I are still in regular contact. I am always very excited to hear new stories from the other side of the world. Some of my host siblings already have their own children. And maybe, who knows, they will also come to Germany as High School students when they are old enough. I am so glad to profit from my experience abroad, personally, during my studies and also at work for CareMed International Insurance.

Anna Houben, Executive Assistant

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