Studying abroad in New Zealand brings adventure for alumna


“Make sure you read this text with a dirty mind and some wine” was the advice Rachel Murray left class with on her first day of school. She didn’t know what she was getting herself into. It was the start of a new adventure for her at Massey University, New Zealand.

Biology major Murray, graduated from St. Edward’s University in December and explained that things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start when she landed half way across the world in early February.

“I literally didn’t know anyone, the campus was closed for the weekend, I had no phone or Internet access, and no means of transportation but my feet. On the plus side the language barrier wasn’t a problem and the place was beautiful. I felt like if I could get through this, I could conquer the world.” 

It’s fair to say the first day was an overwhelming one. Murray had to learn how to use the bus system, register for classes with a completely foreign system and figure out how to get a phone to contact home and let her poor parents know she had made it.

“It took a few days to adapt but it’s been great since,” Murray said. “Everyday I am here I’m still in awe, I don’t know how I got so lucky.”

If Murray thought she had it hard adapting to a new life, she realized she didn’t have it too bad when she met her Chinese roommate.

“It was my roommate’s first time leaving China and he asked me to give him an English name. He made me go through all my Facebook friends so he could pick one out. He chose Jacob,” Murray said.

Not only did she help name her roommate, Murray also helped show him how to use a toaster and oven to help cook his first ever meal, an authentic Chinese dish, which she claims was a success.

Although she is loving her time in New Zealand, she has missed the little things from home— like food.

“The ketchup is disgusting. Also, the BBQ here has nothing on good ole’ Texas BBQ. So much lamb, and not enough ribs or sweet baby rays,” Murray said jokingly. “I obviously miss everyone back home and it made me sad seeing all the homecoming events going on at school, I miss being involved.”

What’s surprised Murray the most has been how different New Zealand is to what she first imagined.  With it being an English-speaking, developed country, she’s imagined the way of life to be similar to that in the United States, but she was wrong.

“People here have a very different attitude to life. It’s so laid back. For example, people just walk around bare foot with tank tops. It’s normal.  They are very environmentally conscious.”

After four years as a Hilltopper, Murray’s experiences on her first day of school at Massey were different to anything she had ever experienced before, but describes the overall atmosphere of the school to be similar to St. Edward’s. 

Like St. Edward’s, Massey has many clubs and always has events going on for students to get involved in, and it is a great way to meet people, Murray explained.

Being from across the pond, Murray has found it easy to meet people and has already made a great group of friends. She puts a lot of that down to the people she has met being “the friendliest in the world,” but also because of her U.S. accent. She says that the New Zealand natives love it and ask her questions just to hear her speak.

After graduating with a 4.0 GPA from St. Edward’s, Rachel said that she could not have wished for a better place to study than in New Zealand. She loves the beautiful landscapes of the country and the many opportunities for outdoor activities.

“I couldn’t have ended up at a better place. I would definitely suggest everyone takes a trip here at some point in their life,” Rachel said. “It’s so beautiful.”

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