A Term In New Zealand
Now it’s my turn to tell everyone about my adventures at school in Mt Maunganui, New Zealand, where I spent term one at Mount Maunganui Intermediate! MMI, as it is known, is a 7th and 8th year school, which, for the Americans out there, is equivalent to 6th and 7th grade. It’s a big school, with 602 students all told, much bigger than I’ve been used to. My class had 28 kids.
A typical day at Mt Intermediate would go like this: Put on my uniform, made up of a shirt and these weird baggy shorts called culottes that look like a skirt when you stand with your legs together. We also had to wear Roman sandals to and from school, but I usually took them off at school and went barefoot all day. It is also absolutely necessary that you wear a hat when you go outside. I usually biked to school a little early to hang out with my friends, and somedays order my lunch at the canteen. At 8:45 the bell would ring and my day would begin. My teacher’s name was Mrs. Clarkin, and she was really nice. We normally had maths in the morning, along with some reading or writing work. Morning Tea (snack) was 30 minutes, nice and long, then we finished up our work until recess, when we had to eat for 10 minutes then had the rest of an hour (!!) to play. During recess, I would climb on the awesome playground that would give the US health and safety department a heart attack. It has a climbing wall, tightropes and ladders all swarming with kids. I would also climb the trees in the field (I was encouraged to do so without shoes) and hang around the school, talking. Other kids played rugby or soccer. Sports are a big thing in NZ, and MMI has lots of sports teams such as rugby, surfing, netball, basketball, and cricket. Some days we had Specialist Tec, (Specialists). I got to do Hard Materials, which is like woodworking. I got to use jigsaws, drills and electronics in hard materials, which was heaps of fun! I also got to start Visual Arts, but sadly the term ended before I got to finish everything. If I had stayed for the year, I would have also done Digital Technology, Dance and Drama, Foods, and Music. We had Library once a week and PE three times. PE was really fun in the warmer months because we got to go swimming in the outdoor school pool! It was a little small and cold, but great on a hot day, and who cares? It’s better than having no pool at all! When the days got cooler we played touch rugby instead. In the afternoons we would do reading or writing or some other school work until 2:50 when the bell rang and the day was over. Then I biked home in the roasting sun and collapsed into a sweaty heap when I got home.
In the first month of school my class got to go to camp! Camp Ngatuhoa is down a really long dirt road that seems endless when you are driving down it. It had lots of awesome activities like tubing, the flying fox and the swimming hole. We also had the Burma Trail where everyone was split up into groups of 4-5 or so, with one parent to each group. Then you had to go on a steep, twisty, treacherous path in the pitch black, holding on to a rope so you don’t get lost. In the first 5 minutes my shoes were soaked and once I bashed my face into a tree, and while it wasn’t my favorite thing while I was doing it, in hindsight it’s pretty funny.
One of the things that was different about school in New Zealand was the vocabulary; swimsuit=togs, lots=heaps, snack=interval or tea. Tree climbing is encouraged, shoes are optional, and most kids skateboard to school. The school had a surf team! Also, the awesome specialists. Things that were the same; we still had lots of the same subjects, still had homework, and I still had nutty boys in my class. I also had some good friends, like at home. Speaking of which, a shoutout to my awesome friends Ella, Bellah, Fiona, Alana, and Emi! You rock, and you made my time at intermediate so much fun! Thank you!
For a change, it was nice to have my afternoons free (also most of the sports offered I did not know how to play, like rugby and netball.) I couldn’t let my time in such a surfer town go to waste, though, and was signed up for after school surfing lessons. It took a few lessons to get even slightly proficient, but by the time I left I could qualify myself as a beginner.
Overall, I had a great time in Mt Maunganui, and I did not want to leave when the term was over! It felt so nice to be in one place and have a routine and friends. I’m really glad we stopped there and I hope I get to come back someday.