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Author: msc004

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens

“Hamilton doesn’t have much going for it, except the gardens. That’s about it.”

The common attitude among the New Zealand students is that you have to leave Hamilton if you want to see and do stuff. However, despite the negative attitude towards Hamilton, I’ve only ever heard great things about the gardens. Since the weather was really nice on Sunday, a few of us decided to go there. The gardens are free to the public, which was surprising since you have to pay admission to go almost anywhere back home.

The gardens are broken into different sections with different themes. My favorite gardens, the Italian Renaissance and Indian Char Bagh, were from the Paradise Collection. It felt like you were entering a totally different country when walking into each area. Other gardens in this collection were the Chinese Scholar Garden and the Japanese Garden of Contemplation. It’s crazy that all these gardens in one place can have such different vibes and moods when you walk through them. From the feeling of being Europe to the serenity of Japan, there is so much culture included in the Hamilton Gardens.

Indian Char Bagh Garden
Italian Renaissance Garden
Chinese Scholar Garden

In addition to the Paradise Collection, the gardens also have a Productive Collection and a Fantasy Collection. My favorite Productive Collection garden was the “sustainable backyard” which showed how a space the size of a backyard can be transformed into something you can use to live off of. Sustainability is an important issue in today’s world and having this space exemplifies how families can use their own backyard to help the environment. The Fantasy Collection included gardens such as the Tudor Garden and Tropical Garden. The Tudor Garden featured sculptures of mythical beasts which I thought were really interesting to look at. Since it is winter, the sculptures brought life into the gardens that weren’t fully in bloom. However, despite being winter, the gardens were still gorgeous. I can’t even begin to imagine how pretty they must be in the springtime.

Tudor Garden

Shoes optional.

Shoes optional.

There’s a reason it’s called culture shock and not cultural differences-that-are-to-be-expected. Here’s six examples of things that were shocking about life in New Zealand:

  1. Driving on the left. It only took a few car rides to get used to driving on the opposite side of the road, but I still have to consciously think “right, left, right” when crossing the street. Driving on the left also means people go to the left when passing others on the sidewalk, which is why I may or may not have almost walked into like 10 people on the first day of class.
  2. Kmart is nice and no one calls McDonald’s by its name. Just because stores and fast-food chains are owned by the same company, it does not mean they are the same as back home. I never thought that I would hear someone say “Let’s go to Kmart” in an excited tone, and I wasn’t prepared to go from the dollar menu at McDonald’s to prices in the double digits at “Maccas”.

  3. It’s socially acceptable to not wear shoes. I thought it was interesting that the dining hall had a sign that reads “Please wear shoes in the dining hall” but then I learned that it’s normal to go barefoot wherever, including the grocery store and Kmart.
  4. Roommates don’t exist. At LVC, I was blessed with not one, but two amazing roommates (s/o Caite and Julia), who I lived with my freshman and sophomore year. Whenever I mention having roommates, people look at me like I’m crazy and say things like “so wait, there’s three of you…in one room?” and “I could never share a room like that” and “Having your own room here must be nice, huh?” and “Would you rather have roommates or your own room?” (to which I always respond: “I’d rather have my roommates than my own room”).

  5. Scheduling classes is crazy. At LVC, there are Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, Tuesday/Thursday classes, and night classes. In New Zealand, there’s lectures, tutorials, and labs. One class could meet for lecture for an hour Monday evening, an hour Thursday morning, and an hour Friday afternoon. There isn’t a set schedule, so it is more likely that class times will clash. On top of lectures, you have to sign up for labs and tutorials. It’s basically like the Hunger Games trying to get the time slot you need before it fills up. Some students have overlapping classes, so they have to leave one class an hour early to go to another.

  6. School spirit (or lack thereof). During my first week here, I went to the on-campus bookstore and was surprised to see that it was just that: books. There is one sweatshirt for the university, but you have to order it online and nobody really wears it. The university doesn’t have a mascot either. It’s the opposite of back home where everyone is wearing college gear. Even as I’m writing this, I’m repping an LVC Dutchmen shirt which a girl from the Netherlands asked me about since they don’t really have school apparel at her school back home.


It’s an adventure..

It’s an adventure..

I arrived in New Zealand almost two weeks ago, and been keeping busy since the minute the plane landed. Classes didn’t begin until our second week here so we had time to find our way around and recover from any jet lag we might have had.

There is one other student who is studying abroad in New Zealand this semester so I wasn’t totally alone in going into life abroad. Within the first hour of moving into our new dorms, we met two other students on our floor from Holland, as well as a girl from France who lives on the floor above ours. A few hours later, we were already off on our first New Zealand adventure: taking the bus to the grocery store. It was this trip that started our motto of “It’s an adventure” for whenever we do anything new or exciting.

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