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The 17-27th of April I went on an amazing NZET tour down to the South Island with lots of other exchange students, mainly AFS'ers. I will try to recap what we did during those 11 days in a few blog posts!! I can tell you it was the best thing I have done in New Zealand so far. Friends and memories for life! ❤

Map of South Island / The group in front of the Kawarau Bridge


DAY 1 - Christchurch

Arrived at Christchurch Airport at 3 pm and met up with the other AFS students I knew from earlier. Was so nice to see them again after a long time! We had lots of things to catch up about. At 4:30 ish, the NZET tour leaders came and met us up and we waited for the last people to arrive. Then we headed straight to our accommondation. We got split into rooms with mixtures of people from different exchange organisations as well, after that we had dinner. After dinner we did some activities to get to know each other and then we had a free night which we spend talking and hanging out in the hot pool.


With Eve (Finland) / A cathedral that's under construction / Some furniture covered in fake grass / Julia, Eveliina and I in front of Lake Tekapo

DAY 2 - Christchurch to Tekapo

This morning we took a city tour in Christchurch to see the devastation from the earthquakes that occured for a couple of years ago, and how the city is still recovering today from the damages that were made. Christchurch is a very artsy city as well so there were lots of cool street art and decorations in town. After the sightseeing in Christchurch, we headed to Lake Tekapo where we were going to stay the night. We also found out that we were going to stay overnight on a boat in Doubtful Sound the night after (I will write about that in another post)!!

For more information about the Epic 1 Tour, just click here. I highly recommend everyone to do the tour if you get the chance to!!!

Move your blog to Nouw - now you can import your old blog - click here!

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Did a little change and dyed my hair gray! Very different but I like it. Feels like I'm having an identity crisis and like I don't know who I am anymore because I'm changing so much when being here! Changing my opinions, getting a different point of view on things and starting to like new stuff. I guess that is a part of an exchange year, you grow and change as a person and realize things are different and that it's not bad. So that's probably why I felt like I wanted to do something different with the physical me!

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And so I survived cyclone Cook as well 😉 It rained so much and was pretty windy, but it wasn't as horrible as we had expected and prepared for. So now there are lots of memes on Facebook about the cyclone haha. It was really bad in some areas though. They told us that people living on Oceanbeach Rd should evacuate because of flooding but we didn't feel that was necessary so we just stayed at home and watched movies. Above you can see a picture of the rain coming in over Lake  Taupo (not my picture) and when I first saw that picture it seemed really freaky for me, I've never been exposured to these extreme weather or earthquakes that they get here. But I'm still alive!

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Hi loves!! Right now I'm snuggled up in bed, gosh the weather is so bad here. It is raining like crazy and apparently this cyclone is the worst since 1968 according to the news? Will be interesting to experience winds with a speed of about 140 km/h...

I just got holidays!!! I'm so excited for next week, then I'm going on the South Island trip with some of my best friends (exchangies). I have decided I'm gonna do skydiving, bungy jump and the canyon swing. Everything is so expensive though! The skydive itself is like 400 dollars.... well at least I only live once so I should do it anyway. Down under you can see the activities available and the price for them.

And today I also had a FaceTime session with my grandma, my boyfriend and then my friend Anton. It was so nice to hear their voices again, oh how I miss them! Feels like nothing has changed. It is funny how you can feel so close even though you are on different sides of the planet. I know there are lots of warnings from exchange organisations that tell you not to talk more than once a month with your friends or family at home, bla bla. I think it is a decision you have to make yourself. I find it easier to talk every now and then just to update them, but I prefer texting since it's so simple and fast. I would be more homesick not talking to them. So an advice to you future exchange students is to make the call yourself, it is your year and you are the only one who knows how you feel and can do something about it.

Now I'm quickly gonna tidy my room, it is so messy lol. On the weekdays I just throw everything on the floor/bed because I'm so stressed in the mornings... anyhow hope you have/had a good day!!!

xx Saga

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Today I did my first cross walking! Senior students from my school have a cross walking every year and I decided to be part of it since we don't have the same religious spirit at all in Sweden. We carried a wooden cross for 20 km, from St Thomas at the Mount to Aquinas in Tauranga. It took us almost 6 hours to walk including stops for morning tea and lunch. We carried the cross because Jesus had to carry his cross before he got crucified, and we were therefore getting a better insight of how it could have been (I think). We stopped at different places and prayed and the teacher told short stories at every station so we would know what happened and what it symbolizes for us. I learnt a lot from it. It was an interesting and tough day for me, now I'm about to go to bed with blisters on my feet! I was supposed to have High Ropes Course tomorrow with my Outdoor Ed class but it got cancelled due to a 48hr State of Emergency being declared for the Bay of Plenty region. The forecast is rain and thunder/lightening. Last week it was flooded in Bay of Plenty because of the cyclone from Australia and my friends from Whakatane even sent me videos of them diving from their front porch. So I think it's something like that coming again. Anyhow, I really looked forward to do the course tomorrow, but hopefully we won't have to wait that long until we can do it!

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A short update about my last weeks. The months fly by so fast!! Can't believe it's already April. About 7 months to go. Anyhow, we got a little puppy!!! Her name is Millie. She's adorable, her breed is schnoodle. Makes me not miss my own dog as much!!

The past weekend I had gateway camp with AFS. All the students in the country came to Hamilton and we stayed at a Christian Camp for two nights. Had a lot of fun! I honestly have the best friends ever, I had a bit of a tough weekend for other reasons but they handle me great. I'm so grateful for having them in my life! ❤❤ We did lots of different exercises about cultural differences and it helped us see things from another perspective.

And I also went on a trip to Auckland with my bio class. It was also great, I was the only exchange student there so I got a bit closer to my kiwi friends. We had so much fun and I got to see interesting stuff like the native species of New Zealand. We stayed over night in Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium (?? not sure of the name) and wow, that was cool! Slept under the fishes.

And last but not least me and my hosts went to Rotorua for ziplining and we went and saw the thermoactive places they got there! I hope you understand that I'm not joking when I'm saying they have such amazing landscapes here. Everything from geysers to beautiful beaches to volcanoes and glaciers!! There is something new everyday that surprises me.

And over all I'm having a great time. It goes up and down obviously, but I love New Zealand. And there are days when I miss my family and friends so freaking much. But it actually feels like home here now. I can finally understand conversations without major misunderstandings, and my speaking is improving every day. I really hope I will get a kiwi accent though!! And to my friends/family back home: I hope you don't take it personally if I might not talk to you a lot. I feel like I want to focus on my life here mostly, it is very hard for me to stay in touch with Sweden when being here. And I actually get kind of anxious because I don't have the time to talk to everybody as I would have wanted to! I want to experience New Zealand since I'm only here for a short time (a year goes fast). I love you a lot and thanks for understanding.

love saga

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Hey guys, sorry for no update in a while. Honestly I am so busy at the moment and I can't find time or motivation to update here. I will try to write some short summaries of what I've been up to when you haven't heard of me.

xx Saga

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This weekend I spend with my support person Bronwyn and her husband Eddie, since my host parents were away in Melbourne for a short trip. I had so much fun with them! We did everything from cooking Swedish meatballs to going to a baby shower for Bronwyns god daughter. I'm very happy I have her as my support person, she is very relaxed and fun to hang out with. And she understands!! Which is probably the most relieving thing as an exchange student, to have someone who understands it all.

Saturday I spent a day in Hamilton with my friends from Finland. Bronwyn and Eddie were nice to let me go. When I arrived, Vaula and her host mum came and picked me up at the bus station, and we went home to their place. There we had breakfast: some cereals and yoghurt, and chatted a little. They have such a cute dog!!!! I really had to post pictures of him. He's like a little puppy even though he is 3 years old. And we also had a very long discussion about how Scandinavian teenagers are allowed to move out from home at such early age, which was a very interesting and a bit frustrating discussion. You can say there was a cultural "collision" between the three of us. For me and Vaula it was hard to explain why teens in general move out so early, (16-18 years old) since it's just normal for us? That is a part of our culture at home. And I thtink it was hard for the host mum to understand why and how, since it's normal in her culture that teenagers don't move out until they have a job and are at uni, etc.

Anyhow - after having breakfast, me and Vaula did our makeup and got ready for going out, and then we went and had ice cream at Duck Island, it was good ice cream but a bit weird. They had some pretty special flavours! My ice cream tasted a bit like bacon tbh, I think it was smoked almond and maple syrup?? haha

Before we went out I was thinking about getting my hair cut and so after having ice cream we tried to find a hair dresser but there was no one who had time for me sadly, so we ended up walking around and talking instead. Later on our other Finnish friends Eveliina and Anton joined in and we had lunch. Then we decided to get our ears pierced out of nowhere! So I got two more piercings, one in each ear so now I have 4 piercings, Eveliina did the same and Vaula got one piercing in her upper ear. Then nothing more really happened that day, we just walked around, looked in some shops and went to timezone and played a few games, last but not least we had a coffee before I went home. It was fun to meet up with them again and to see a little bit of Hamilton. I will definitely come back there!

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For 7 weeks ago, I sat on the plane to Tauranga, having no idea what I was getting in to, but I also had no idea how much it all would become to mean to me. Future exchange students, trust me when I say time will fly by fast for you on your year abroad. It feels like I just came yesterday, but on the same time feels like I have been here for six months. It freaks me out a bit.

I love New Zealand and I already see it as my second home. It has NOT been easy but it's definitely worth it. I have gained a second family and amazing friends. I have discovered so much about myself already and I am still growing. I think the fastest way to learn is to travel alone. It will be interesting to see who you are gonna welcome home to Sweden in December. Here's a quote I find very applicable to this whole exchange-growing-thing. May seem a bit depressing at first glance but for me it's inspiring, since this journey is also about helping me to discover myself and who I am and want to be.

"The thing is - I won’t come back.

The person you will welcome home in a year will not be the person you said goodbye to. It was a goodbye forever."

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After school I went out with some friends; Bri, Johanna, Sunny, Sam and Tash and then Niamh and her friend joined in! It was heaps of fun, I think we should do it more often. We first went and took a swim at Pilot Bay, was pretty cold tbh. Also saw an octopus for the first time!!! God it was so slimey and creepy haha. The man who catched it had the octopus clinged to his arm while it was fighting for it's life😨 imagine if that came and grabbed your leg in the water omg. Tauranga really is a fishing town. Then we had Turkish for dins, it was soo good. And last but not least we had ice cream at Copenhagen Cones 😋 Now I'm off to bed, tomorrow me and my family are going to Auckland and we will see Adele Thursday night!

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