Kicking off your study abroad adventure can create some of the most exciting adventures. Here’s a few tips on how to enhance your orientation.
1. Socialize with as many people as possible
From the moment you set foot in the airport for your first group flight, until the moment orientation is over and you are hugging your new friends goodbye as they fly off to their prospective study abroad cities, be sure to meet as many people as possible. Find someone from TEAN that is on the same flight as you. Not only can they help you figure out how to navigate the airport and help pass the time during a layover, but they also distract you from the initial phases of homesickness. Socializing during flights can be tiring, especially if you have been traveling for many hours, so don’t stress if you fall asleep on the plane. You’ll have plenty of time to get to know everyone throughout the week. Once you start orientation, don’t necessarily only hang out with the people who are studying in the same city as you. Yes, it’s nice to get to know them, but you have four months to build friendships with them. Instead, try to meet the others going to different cities. You never know whom you will want to travel with during breaks, or who will invite you to crash at their place so you can visit their city. The more connections you make the better.
2. Enjoy this time to relax
You have crammed planning this upcoming semester abroad while taking classes at your home university. You probably put in some extra hours at work in order to give yourself some extra spending money. Not to mention the stressful task of packing a semester’s worth of clothes in one suitcase. Be sure to take a breather during orientation. Everything is taken care of for you; you can simply enjoy the company of those around you. For me, my time in Fiji allowed me to unwind after all of that planning. I would wander the beach, read a book on a hammock, and enjoy a sunrise in blissful peace.
3. Listen and learn
Your orientation leaders are some of the best people to ask for any of the possible questions you might have. My orientation leaders, Alice, Fran, and Rachel gave the best advice on how to find great deals on airfare and buses, fun and cost efficient activities, and the best places to eat a decent meal that won’t leave your wallet empty. Not only are they there to ensure that everything runs smoothly during orientation, but they are also the ones that inform you of key safety tips when in New Zealand. Be smart and take their guidelines, they know what they’re talking about. Before your orientation ends, be sure to quiz them on anything you are curious about, they are the perfect people to ask. That way, when you are on your own, you’ll know enough to truly enjoy your time abroad.
4. Take part in as many adventures as you can
Whether it’s waking up for a sunrise hike when you aren’t a morning person, participating in an activity you are scared of, or trying a new food, try to involve yourself in as much as possible. When my orientation group was in Auckland, I went to the Sky Tower for the SkyWalk. Note that I am absolutely terrified of heights, so walking around on a narrow path 192 meters above the ground, without a railing and with the wind swirling around you, is not a typical situation I would voluntarily put myself into. Regardless, with my new friends encouraging me the whole time, I made it all the way around, despite the fact that I was shaking the whole time. It was definitely one of my most proud moments. So even if you are nervous about trying something, do it! Orientation is the time for you to try new things and help you start formulating how you want to spend the rest of your time in New Zealand.
Kate Farrell is a student at the University of Hartford and a TEAN Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with TEAN in Wellington, New Zealand.