I was told during the TEAN orientation to studying abroad in New Zealand that the one thing I should remember throughout my time here is “It’s not wrong, it’s just different.” So I have compiled a list over the past two weeks of things that were not wrong, just different, about life in New Zealand.

Stay to the Left

For the first few days that I was in New Zealand, I kept wondering why people were not even attempting to move when they saw me coming toward them. I just thought they were stubborn. Now, looking back, it all makes sense. Kiwis drive on the opposite side of the road, so of course they walk on the other side of the walkway as well! It was me who was in the wrong all along.

Stay to the left. Photo by TEAN Alum Tiffany Young, University of Hartford who studied abroad in New Zealand.
Stay to the left. Photo by TEAN Alum Tiffany Young, University of Hartford who studied abroad in New Zealand.


I noticed that at Uni, most students tend to cook rather than go out for a meal. This is also evident by the lack of fast food places or even food establishments in general on campus. There are a bunch of cafes though so I can grab a coffee or a small sandwich when I’m on-the-go.


My favorite difference I’ve seen in New Zealand so far (other than the trees and climate) are the variety and abundance of trash cans. They have trash cans for cardboard, for glass and plastic, for empty cups, for landfill, for organics, for literally everything that can be recycled. The “rubbish” bins are even labeled with small pictures so that if you’re like me and are totally overwhelmed by the simple act of throwing something away in New Zealand, you’ll know just where to put it.

Recycling bins on campus
Recycling bins on campus

Class Schedules

Scheduling classes at uni is different because students in New Zealand (and from what I hear, most other countries as well) don’t have to take any general education requirements. Basically, they get to uni their first year, and they jump right into classes that prepare them for their individual career paths. Since NZ students generally take classes that are in one subject area, those classes aren’t offered at many different times because they don’t need to be to accommodate the locals. See the problem? Personally as a double major, this is particularly difficult because I am taking four classes all from different subject areas. I thankfully only had one clash, and it was minor, so I just switched to a different class.

Thursday Night Out

Another cultural quirk I found is that Kiwis go out on Thursdays instead of the Fridays that I’m used to in the states. I’m told that this is because of the dedication Kiwis have to their Saturday morning sports… makes sense.