Participant Greg Young from South Africa tells us about his time in New Zealand so far.
So far my New-Zealand experience has been great, I have done a lot of traveling and seen many amazing places and met a lot of nice people.
During the April holidays I flew up to the North Island, meeting one of the other gap assistants and 2 friends from South Africa. During our 10 day holiday we drove up to the Bay of Island and spent 3 days travelling around there, doing a few hikes and taking the ferry to the island, before driving back to Auckland for a night. From Auckland, we drove down to Lake Taupo, were we spent 3 days seeing the surrounding area before heading back to Auckland exploring the city for a few days before the school term resumed.
During the July holidays, my parents flew from South Africa to come visit me and do a bit of traveling and sightseeing, as they have also never been in New Zealand before. We started our 10 day road trip in Oamaru and from there we would spend a couple of nights in Dunedin, Queenstown, Christchurch, Cromwell and Mount Cook, making our way back to Oamaru.
In the October holidays I was fortunate enough to visit Australia with one of the Gap students from Timaru. We flew up to the Gold Coast, were we spent 10 nights in Surfers Paradise. During this time we would visit the theme parks, go to the beaches and explore the surrounding areas. We had great weather during our stay and we were able to do many activities and see many places.
I have always wanted to see New Zealand and one of my friends who had spent a few months traveling around the country, recommended it to me. New Zealand has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and has also been on the top of my list to see, so when the opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate to take it.
I was placed at a college in a town called Oamaru. My main duty is supervising role at the boarding house. We are responsible to ensure the boys get up in the morning, get to school and get into bed on time and ensure that we are always around in case of an emergency. Other duties also include, driving the school van to town and back, dropping the boys off and collecting them again, helping out with study time and helping with any other chores around the boarding house.
We also have to do 10 hours a week at school. We help some of the kids with learning disabilities by reading and writing the exams and tests for them and we spend 50 minutes every lunchtime looking after a boy who has autism, ensuring he get from class, to lunch and back safely. I really enjoy this role.
The best part about my gap experience has been the relationship I have formed with the boys from the boarding house, over the year we have become really good friends and I will miss being around the boarding house playing basketball and rugby with the boys. I have also enjoyed seeing how the schooling and boarding system differs from South Africa and how the cultures differ. It has been eye opening.
The most difficult thing for me was to have a relationship with the students, where they respect your but also build a friendship with them. It is difficult to balance between being their supervisor and friend at the same time. I guess you can be friendly but not friends if that makes sense.
Once I go back I will spend the Christmas holidays with friends and family and from January I will start working together with my parents at our family business, where I will help them manage our transport and warehousing company. This opportunity has taught me so much about myself and given me the confidence to succeed in life.