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The University of Canterbury: where my new life begins

How time flies! It has already been four months since I left my hometown for Christchurch, New Zealand. Recalling the past four month, I really appreciate the choice that I made after I graduated from the No.1 Middle School of CCUN: to be a student in the University of Canterbury. I am glad to share my story with my No.1 school-mates. If you want to study abroad in a university with charming environment and a high-level prestige, then University of Canterbury is probably a good choice.

The “Friendship City Scholarship” programme is based on the friendship between Wuhan and Christchurch. Each year from 2007, there will be several lucky students being offered the scholarship to study in the University of Canterbury. I was lucky enough to be one of the eight students in 2009. In the first week after we arrived in Christchurch, we were warmly welcomed by the Chancellor of UC, the vice-mayor of Christchurch and other university teachers. Ruan Chengfa, the mayor of Wuhan, also attended the ceremony with his delegation. It was really awesome to have all these wonderful things together at that afternoon: being awarded the Friendship City Scholarship, taking pictures with these big cities’ mayors and having a free tasty afternoon tea.

Each of us would settle in a local homestay family once we arrived in Christchurch. Bob and Lorraine are my homestay parents. They are an elderly couple having three daughters and five grandchildren. But they are still very active everyday and also work hard. Lorraine cooks well. She can always make use of different ingredients and end up with delicious meals. Bob is a rugby freak and a big fan of crossword puzzle. He told me a lot about the rugby game and many interesting stories when he was young. They taught me how to make some simple food and how to dress just like a real kiwi and also helped me correct my English pronunciation. I love to be with them to be a member of the big family. On the Christmas day, I got many presents not only from Bob and Lorraine but also from their daughters’ families. Although I am thousands of kilometres away from my home where I had been living for 18 years, but I found another home right here in New Zealand as Bob and Lorraine treated me just as their own son.

The Christmas holiday is probably the best time that I had had in the past four months. I went a trip to Nelson with Bob and Lorraine’s second daughter Nik’s family. Nelson lies in the north of the south island and is an ideal place for travelling during Christmas time. We got to Nelson in a big camper, in which we can cook, go to toilet, take a shower, sleep and even watch a movie! I was totally relaxed sitting in such a fantastic camper and enjoying the amazing views alongside the road. We went to the stalactite cave, Kaiteriteri golden beach, the Pupu Spring which was said to be the clearest fresh water in the world and also went kayaking, swimming and climbing. It was a great of fun!

The study in the Bridging Programme in the University of Canterbury is also a period of time to remember. This is a preparatory programme before we enter the University. I am an engineering student, so I chose Math, Physics and Chemistry and English which is compulsory. Honestly, the science-related courses are easy for us Chinese students. Probably English is the only hard task that we have to pay more attention to. Our English teacher Moira was a strict but patient and helpful lady. With her help, I had made a big progress for my English. In addition, there were many international students from all different countries like Japan, South Korea, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany and America. We can talk to them to exchange our different ideas and cultures, which really helped me develop my English, communication skills and expanded my horizons. At the end of Bridging Programme, we attended the graduation ceremony and were awarded our graduation certificates. Many of us Wuhan students got extra awards for achieving the highest the marks in the respective courses. I got the highest marks for Math B, Physics and Chemistry, which was really a surprise for me. I also delivered a short speech about my experience in the past four months in Christchurch as a representative of all the international students.

I have always been curious about the world out of China. It was not until I arrived in New Zealand that I started to experience the true western culture. Having a lot of immigrations, New Zealand is a multicultural country. You can taste pure middle-eastern food cooked by your Saudi friends, listen to the mellow American tone from your American mates, and most importantly, you can spend a Chinese new year eve just as you were in China. However, we are inevitably confronted with the task of living all by ourselves without the help of our parents at the beginning. We learn how to study, how to survive and how to enjoy the new life. It sounds tough but interesting and exciting, doesn’t it?

There are so many people that have given a lot of help to us. I want to say thank you to all these people: Marion and Wenli, who introduced us to the University and gave us advise on both study and life whenever we turned to them; Elspeth and Ben, who arranged homestay for us and helped us with any accommodation problems; Professor Bob, the American outgoing guy who likes showing us Wuhan students around this beautiful country; all our parents, our homestay parents and all the university staff and teachers.

This is my story, my new life in the University. I still have four year to go to complete my Bachelor of Engineering degree. There must be some more exciting stories await me in the coming years.

2010 /