One thing that is really unique about my study abroad experience is the option of watching your lectures recorded online. A lot of people just watch their lectures on an online platform called panopto. It’s a really useful technology because another unique thing about here is that there are a lot of timetable clashes when it comes to attending tutorials and labs. Tutorials and labs are extra sessions you are required to attend that go along with papers.
Back home we would take our labs as a separate one-credit class rather than a normal three-credit class but here they are mandatory (or compulsory as they say here) with the lecture. Its sort of a double-edged sword at the same time. A lot of students don’t attend lecture at all because they are available online. Personally, I prefer being present in lecture rather than watching them online because when I watch them online it tends to take me way longer than it would normally, but panopto recordings are such a great study tool. Sometimes lecturers go too fast for me to get what they said, or I forget something that they said in class, and I can just go back to a certain point in the lecture that I missed on my own time.
This brings me to the topic of technology and how useful it is when studying abroad. The power of technology consistently amazes me. Even though New Zealand isn’t what you would think of as the center for new technologies, I come from a place that is just slightly less technologically advanced. One thing I found pretty impressive was having a consistent transport system and the routes for that transport system right at the touch of your fingertips.
Not only can you tell when the bus is coming, but the times will actually adjust to meet the actual location of the bus as well. This is mind-blowing to me because back at home the bus comes maybe once or twice a day somewhere around a specified time, but you never know if it’s going to be late. I have a car at home for these exact reasons, but from what I’ve heard the bus can sometimes be really late or not even show up. I listen to students from more populated cities talk about how much more effective their public transport is and just think how awesome it is that public transport that efficient even really exists. Continuing with the topic of getting places and transportation, Google Maps is a godsend.
I honestly doubt my abilities to get anywhere without it because admittedly my memory is pretty terrible and so are my navigation skills. I ride my bike around here sometimes and am able to have google maps right in my ear telling me where to go as I ride (keeping one earbud out for the safety of course). It makes going out so easy because not only will it give you directions, but regularly updated timetables for that amazing public transport, and even sometimes lets you know the operating hours of the place you are trying to get to.
Another piece of technology I am really thankful for is Facebook. Facebook messenger is one of the main forms of communication that is used out here when it comes to both domestic and international students. Not all of us have international SIM cards so Messenger is a really easy way to keep in contact with people with just your basic Wifi connection. A lot of students who never even had a Facebook or never used it have come to use it on a daily basis for this exact reason.
Facebook is actually the main source of information as to what’s going on in my own college dorms as well. There have been many Facebook groups I have joined since I got here that let me know important information about things that are going on around campus. Even when people have a package to pick up at the office, its posted on the dorm Facebook group. Another thing Facebook offers is events that are taking place nearby.
I haven’t actually used this one yet but it’s really cool to see what’s going on nearby and know that there are things to do in case there’s ever a free night off. Facebook is such a versatile platform for so many different things. Messenger for keeping in contact, the marketplace for shopping, group pages for keeping in the know about things, your feed for being entertained, its no wonder its such a widely used platform. As much as I hate the amount of time I spend on it, I’m pretty thankful for its existence.
This past weekend was probably the most adventurous weekend I had here so far. We did surfing lessons on Saturday morning, followed by kayaking in the afternoon, then dancing to Latin music at night. The next morning we woke up and drove to Rotorua to go whitewater rafting. Everything was so much fun I really wish I could do it all over again. Now back to school for another week of tests and studying before our 2-week spring recess!