I have been in New Zealand on a student exchange for just over a month now. It’s interesting to notice the small things that are different from your home university, but that add up to make a hugely different and amazing environment, which makes being a student, shockingly, quite enjoyable.
They eat in the library without shame:
Can you imagine not having to hide your food while you secretly eat it in McLennan? These students pull out food and eat it in the open without fear, and are better nourished, and probably more focused because of it. Probably.
They live in the moment:
We students are under a lot of stress about grades, assignments, careers, family issues, relationships, friends, and everything else. I think it’s high time we get on the same wavelength as the New Zealanders, and start relaxing a little bit. If you are at a party, and have an assignment due soon, enjoy the party for what it is and worry about the assignment tomorrow. Simply put, try being in the moment because you will have time to worry about everything else later.
They walk around in bare feet:
Kiwi students walk around the library, go grocery shopping, and skateboard all with bare feet. Now, we Montrealers may be limited to the summer months to do this, but nothing is stopping us from wearing comfy wool socks, taking off our shoes in McLennan, and embracing the feeling of not having cold feet from our wet boots.
They embrace the music:
I don’t think there has been a time since I’ve been in New Zealand where a party has been broken up by the police due to a noise complaint. People here embrace—perhaps unexpectedly—loud music, instead of fighting it. In fact, the music becomes quite comforting to fall asleep to, eventually.
They aren’t afraid to crash a party:
If Kiwis still cannot fall asleep because they are bothered by the music from a particularly loud party, they will just go crash it and meet new people. I cannot tell you how many new and interesting people I have met because their plans fell through, then they heard our music, and came to join the party.
They have BBQs on weekdays:
On a whim, friends will be invited over to celebrate the school day being done and told to bring something delicious to share. The evening will then be enjoyed hanging out with friends over some tasty barbequed goods.
They pack away the headphones and pay attention on the street:
I am astounded when I am walking to school in New Zealand and people make eye contact with me and smile. That rarely happens in Montreal because everyone is so often stuck in their own little stressed-out world. But sometimes, all you need is a smile from a stranger to let you know that you just need to relax.
They don’t take where they live for granted:
Although I am a visitor and am trying to see as much as I can, I find that New Zealanders also embrace where they live. They go to the same beach that they’ve been to hundreds of times, yet they also explore the city for new things to do. Having lived in Montreal for three and a half years, I can say that I have never gone to any of the museums or tried to find a cool new bar that might be out of my area. I think sometimes people forget that there can be tons of cool places to explore right in their own backyard.