I wanted to study abroad in the spring of the third year of junior high school. When I traveled to Australia, I was fascinated by the Southern Hemisphere. Then, in the winter of the third year of junior high school, I went to Tokyo to find a suitable office for me. I discussed with the person in charge about what country they were interested in, what kind of high school they wanted to go to, and what kind of support they needed. Although it depends on the country and place you choose, and the high school, I think it took about 3 million yen per year, including the amount paid to the recruitment company, homestay fee, and school expenses.
As a junior high school third grader, the classmates were really studying for the exam. However, I decided to go on to a high school in New Zealand and decided to start high school without taking any special exams or checking my English.
Of course, there are individual differences, but I feel that New Zealanders are generally gentle and friendly people. I don’t always talk to the same person at school, but if I speak positively, I will soon become a friend. The types of classes, club activities, tests and allocation of rest time were also different from Japan. Here are some of my experiences of studying in New Zealand.
International city (Dunedin)
When I first arrived at a New Zealand school, I first headed to the International Room. When I entered the room, there were students from all over the world, including Japanese, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Brazil and Vietnam.
In Japan, it is hard to imagine that people of various nationalities are gathering in the same room. Therefore, there is a memory that such an environment itself felt very shocking.
Wherever you are from, the common language is English
And although the native language should be completely different, English was the common language spoken by international students. For example, even if New Zealanders are Japanese friends or Germans are Chinese friends, the common language is English.
Not only the high school I attended, either public or private, every high school had students from various countries. For this reason, the support system for international students here has been firmly established, and I have the impression that local students are used to international students. The teachers make an effort to understand the fluent English, so the international students can speak English without fear.
Life at school – classes
New Zealand education system
In New Zealand, primary education takes place from 6 to 11 years old. In other words, the first grader is Year 1 and the sixth grader is Year 6. Secondary education is Year 7 and Year 8, with 2 years of junior high school being 12 and 13 years old. After that, the high school is from 14 to 18 years old and changes from Year 9 to Year 13.
There are mandatory courses in the class, but there are also elective courses. Students who want to go on to university or vocational school have some essential subjects, but if they are thinking about finding a job, they will have more choices and be relatively free. If you were an international student and did not have the same level of English as a local student, you had to choose an English class for international students called ESOL.
New Zealand schools, like Japanese schools, have classes in geography, history, science, biology, mathematics, English and computers. In addition, there were classes that were not found in Japanese schools, such as hospitality, outdoor activities, dramas and tour rhythms. If you are not thinking about going on to college or want to take a subject that is different in the first place, I would like it to be a challenge.
There are many subjects that you can learn by experiencing the local culture with your skin and experiencing it, and there are classes that are not in the style of sitting on a chair and listening to the teachers, so it is easy to make friends. Depending on the class, there are many international students who can take classes in an international environment.
In the outdoor class, we did activities that could not be experienced in physical education. I have also traveled kayaking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding. I liked the hospitality class. At that time, I had never cooked, but in this hospitality class, I learned the fun of cooking and was able to challenge the cuisine unique to New Zealand.
Classes usually had 50 minutes for 5 hours and once a week 45 minutes for 6 hours. In the final year, there was a day when I could go home early.
Around 10:00 in the morning, New Zealand and Australia have a 15-20 minute break called Interval. During this time, both teachers and students eat snacks. Some people bring their own sweets such as chips, fruits, and yogurt from their homes, and they can buy them at the store, where there is a line.
On the first day of school, I didn’t know what time was, and had lunch while thinking “I’m still 10:00.”
Life at school – after school
Club activities are loose
New Zealand high schools have club activities as well as Japan. Speaking of club activities in Japan, there is an image of sweating and exercising from morning to night, regardless of the season, but club activities in New Zealand are completely different.
The sport changes with the seasons, and you may participate in different club activities every year, or of course you can choose not to participate. It doesn’t mean you have to practice every day. Some club activities I participated in only went to other high schools and municipal gymnasiums once a week to play games. A club activity that you do not belong to is said to come because you don’t have enough people.
I am worried about coming to my first place in the form of studying abroad and living away from my parents without English ability. At that time, my host family was always encouraging. Of course, junior high school students sometimes enter dormitories, so it depends on the person who has a host family.
Since our school had a system for international students, all host families were managed by the school. There were also other international students living in the host family’s house. One room per person was the principle, so if you were able to protect it, you could send as many international students as possible in your family. I lived under a New Zealand host parent, but I also lived with other international students. Some of them studied abroad for a short period of time, so I lived with many people over the last three years.
It’s hard to experience in Japan that you can live in different cultures and different cultures. Of course, living with someone other than your family is not easy. However, it can be fun depending on how you perceive it, or you can be like a real family.
Fun school life
What do you think. New Zealand’s high school life has become very exciting. I don’t go to high school in Japan so I can’t make a detailed comparison, but what I experienced at a New Zealand high school is a lifetime treasure. Of course, the equipment is different from that in Japan, so there were some shocking things like the school’s toilet was not locked. However, I think that I was able to enjoy various cultures by accepting the differences in life. When studying abroad, it is important to take things positively and make an effort to merge with the local community.