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    International Student Experiences

    Mercury Bay Area School welcomes international students from around the world to participate in the life of the school and to enjoy our unique learning programmes. In this section of our website we give voice to the young people we have welcomed and let them tell you their stories.

    Ibuki from Japan

    ‘The two years I’ve spent at MBAS were the best two years of my life. Now, I know that’s a cliché thing to say, but I really mean it. The close bonds I formed with the amazing people here, and the opportunities studying here gave me are things that I am extremely grateful for.

    My homestay was everything I could ever ask for, and more. My host parents warmly welcomed me into their home from the day I arrived, and now, 2 years later, I can truly say that they’re like family to me. They cooked me delicious food every day, helped me get accustomed to the Kiwi lifestyle, and provided me with so much support to help me grow as a person. My host brother (also an international student) was awesome too, and we instantly became friends. We made some great memories together, and although he is back in Germany now, we still keep in touch.

    At school, I made some amazing friends from all different backgrounds, and it really broadened my perspective. Coming from a homogeneous country like Japan, experiencing the diversity first hand was super exciting, and taught me a lot. Although many of us will be going our separate ways for the next stage in our lives, I already know that I’ll be in close contact with them for years and years to come. The teachers here at MBAS were all great too, and I’ve formed some really close bonds with them during my time here. The Director of International Students was especially amazing. She was like another mother to me, answering any questions I had, making sure I was on the right track, and providing me with such kind support during tough times. So, I guess I have 3 mothers now.

    And finally, the opportunities and experiences that being an international student at MBAS provided me were just incredible. In just my two short years here, I was able to experience: field trips to Cathedral Cove, winning the local basketball tournament, playing a role in the school production, and being a part of the student leadership team. Each of these opportunities and experiences really taught me important lessons, and they are also simply unforgettable memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.’

    Andrea from Italy


    Hi, I am Andrea and I am going to tell you about my experience in NZ.

    When I left Italy I was really excited about living abroad for 3 months and at the same time a bit worried to stay for all this time without seeing my family and my friends.

    The beginning was a bit hard because I had to get used to the language and because I was really tired from the long journey I had done, but after a few days it became easier and I started getting familiar with English.

    The 22nd of July started my experience in the NZ school, me and the other exchange students chose our subjects and received some general information about the town of Whitianga.

    Since that day I have been here for 7 weeks and I have found that this kind of school really is very different from the Italian one. I think it is more human and it focalizes attention on the health of the students not just on the scholastic program .

    The school here is less stressful than the Italian one and the teachers pay more attention to your requirements. I have found that people here, like the school, are more human and nice.

    In this moment I’m living the final part of my trip and if I could, I would stay for longer but unfortunately I can' t. I'm sure that I will remember this experience, this school, my host family and my NZ friends forever.  



    Candice from South Korea


    I'm Candice (Dahye) from South Korea. I want to be an Environmental Scientist in the future. First of all, I was not sure about being an Environmental Scientist because I have never learned anything academic about this job. I got the opportunity to learn about Horticultural and Environmental science to make my dream come true from Mercury Bay Area School (MBAS). MBAS’s practical studies made me understand about the environment better and get confidence that language can not be an obstacle.

    I always really wanted to learn German and Japanese but there was no place to learn these languages near my city in South Korea. So I thought this is a good opportunity to learn these languages. At Mercury Bay Area  I’m taking Japanese at MBAS and learning German from Ana who is living at the same house as me. If I don’t know the meaning or how to pronounce it, I always ask my German and Japanese friends so I can learn it correctly. Also, my host family is teaching me how to speak English with kiwi words every week. They are helping me to speak better English. I’m so happy that I can learn these languages.

    For me, MBAS is the amazing place to catch my dream and make me the happiest person in the world. 

    Johanna from Austria


    My exchange year in New Zealand. The last 6 months here in New Zealand have been the best in my entire life. I've learnt so much about myself, gained so many wonderful friends and experienced a different culture, a different lifestyle, a different country.

    At this stage I really have to say a big thanks to my awesome and unique host family, who welcomed me so kindly and are a major reason, why my time here has been so enjoyable. Together with these guys I spent 2 weeks in a campervan down the South Island, trying to show me as much of the country as possible, which was such a fun time and definitely one of my highlights here in New Zealand!

    Furthermore, lucky as I was, I even got so see another country during my time here, since my host sister was doing some modelling in Sydney, we made a short weekend trip to visit her, which was absolutely amazing! Besides, I've made so many close friends here, who I've done heaps of fun stuff with, like going to concerts, possum shooting, a shopping trip to Auckland, an overnight kayak trip or camping on the beach.

    However, my favourite thing was probably trying to teach Kiwis some German words, which was absolutely hilarious. It's crazy how fast friendships can develop and how close you can get to people in such a short amount of time. It honestly feels like I have a second life here, a second family, a second home... I can't believe my time here is over already, it went way too fast and I can say without any doubt, that I fully enjoyed every single minute of my time here in New Zealand. BIG THANKS to everyone, who has made my time here unforgettable. I'll definitely come back!

    Lea's Story

    Lea Eisenbarth

    My name is Lea Eisenbarth, I’m from Germany and I came to the Mercury Bay Area School for 6 months. Those six months were definitely one of the best in my life. I did so many things I’ve never done before and one of my favorite things was Marine Academy. Every Friday I didn’t have school, I went diving. I did my Open Water Diver and my Advanced Open Water Diver, so I’m allowed to dive everywhere in the world now. Furthermore our Dive group went on a dive trip to Northland where we had the opportunity to dive through an old ship wreck. It was just amazing!

    My favorite subject in school was Outdoor Education and Woodwork. In Outdoor Ed we went kayaking in the first term and abseiling in the second term. We also had an overnight kayaking trip which was also a great experience. Woodwork is something like art but obviously with wood and it was really cool. I made boxes and a bowl and little Kiwi birds. Another thing I really enjoyed doing here was horse riding. My host family has got 4 horses and my sister and I went for several beach rides. I don’t have the chance to ride on a beach in Germany so it was always nice to do it here.

    All in all I had a wonderful time in New Zealand and if I could I would do it again straightaway.

    Rina's Ishii Story

    Rina Ishii

    My Winter Outdoor Education Trip

    I’m studying Year 12 Outdoor Education in New Zealand this year. When I was a junior high school student in Japan I didn’t have outdoor education class, so I really wanted to try outdoor education.

    Last week I went on a snow trip one week with my outdoor education class. I was excited about this trip, because when I went to a kayak camp it was a lot of fun and I had a great time.

    On Monday, we went white water rafting on the Kaituna River it was really scary because it was my first time rafting. It was really fun!!!

    On Tuesday until Thursday we practiced snowboarding. It was my first time to do snowboarding so I was a little bit nervous but it was so much fun. I really wanted to stand up by myself, so I practiced again and again. Finally I did it!! I was very happy and it gave me lots of confidence.

    On Thursday afternoon we had an assessment so I was worried about turning because I still couldn’t do that. Luckily, the assessment snow instructor who was Japanese, talked to me in Japanese and I passed the assessment. I was really happy and comfortable.

    On Friday we came back to Whitianga and drove about five hours so I was getting bored. At lunch time we had a hamburger and chips at Burger Fuel. It was very yummy and I won’t forget it.

    I think this trip was an awesome experience, because I got confidence through this trip and all my precious memories at Mercury Bay Area School. I really enjoyed this trip and I’m grateful for the teachers who gave me this opportunity.

    Hiroaki's Story


    I went on the Spirit of Adventure from 16th July to 26th of July to get more confidence and improve my English.

    Spirit of Adventure is a 10 day trip which is on the sailing ship to do some sailing and some awesome activities such as hiking, rowing rubber boat and sailing on the sailing boat.

    The sailing ship has a tall mast which we could climb to the top to set up the sails. It was a bit scary because the mast was about 20 metres high, but I think it was good fun. The ship also has many ropes each side of it and we could pull the ropes after we had set up the sails. It was very hard work using many muscles and I got muscle pains over the first few days.

    The ship has 40 voyagers and some crew. All the voyagers were split into four groups. All of them were very kind, but I think my group mates were especially kind because they helped me when I couldn’t understand what I should do. I also had good memories with them such as hiking, rowing the rubber boat, sailing and some activities in the Bay Of Islands, but the best thing was my birthday.

    I felt a bit nervous on day 9 because that day was my birthday and I thought no one would celebrate with me but actually they baked a cake for me and gave me a birthday card. I was really surprised and really happy so I thought they are very good friends for me.

    However the trip also had some horrible memories. The first thing was we had to jump into the ocean every morning. It was so freezing.

    The second horrible thing was we couldn’t have a hot water shower. We could only have fresh water showers after our morning swim just to wash off the salt.

    The third horrible thing was seasickness. I got seasick for about 6 days out of 10 days and some of others as well. It was horrible, especially day 4 and day 7. These two days were really disgusting because the waves were really hard and the ship shook violently, so many people were getting seasick and some of them vomited.

    The last horrible thing was I got a cold on the ship and it didn’t get better until I went back to my house and still I had a cold.

    Anyway, I think this trip was really good for me because I made many good friends, did some awesome activities with them, did some sailing and I got more confidence than before the trip.

    Oskar's story


    In 2012 our family came to stay in Mercury Bay as part of their tour of New Zealand...

    This year our family spent our big holidays in New Zealand. We arrived in Auckland on Dec 26 2011 and started from there our round trip through the country for the next 5 weeks. We have seen a lot of the country. Personally I liked Queenstown most but also the other places were excellent.

    Normally we do not have school holidays in Germany in January but since our parents have enrolled us at the MBAS we have the permission from our local schools to stay in NZ until mid of March.

    So we arrived in Whitianga by the end of January where we lived in a rented bach (holiday home) nearby to MBAS.

    The Friday before school started Lorraine Bristow showed us the school in all details which was already very impressive. After this we bought school uniforms for each of us. This was completely new for us since we do not have school uniforms in Germany.

    The school was equipped perfectly: a big sports ground, a swimming pool, a cooking class where we were taught “food & nutrition” (we do not have that in Germany!) and the graphics class room with iMac computers (amazing!).

    I attended the class 9 BK with Mr Bosson while my brother Arthur was in class M10 (Year 2) and my sister Klara in class M7 (Year 4). The first day at school was very strange for us. We did not know anybody and did not understand much. Klara and Arthur had teacher aids who helped them to understand what the teacher told them.

    For me the first two weeks were the hardest. But then I understood the people better and better. I think that I learned a lot of English.

    The highlights for me were the swimming competition and the athletics day not to forget the rugby league team where I participated at the training. Rugby is almost unknown in Germany (we play football) but it is an awesome sport!

    Last, but not least I can say that all people we met in NZ are very friendly and kind!

    My brother, sister and I had a great time in NZ and at MBAS. It was a great experience for all of us, and I personally hope to return to Mercury Bay Area School in the near future.

    Oskar from Berlin, Germany

    Kira's Story


    Whitianga is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Mercury Bay Area School is close to the Beach and only ten minutes walking into town.

    I really enjoyed my time at MBAS. The school gives you a lot of opportunities to join sport teams. In my exchange year I joined the girls Soccer Team and we had a game every Saturday which was a lot of fun. We travelled to other towns and made the best out of it. But not only sport teams after school are a good opportunity MBAS also gives a good choice of subjects. In my exchange year I was attending Maths, English, Computing, Photography, Biology and Outdoor Education. All those subjects were a lot of fun and I really enjoyed them. The teachers are helpful and understandable; they help you whenever you have a question or don’t understand anything just go and ask them they will help you.

    After one month I settled myself down here , I found new friends who all made my life easier and really nice in New Zealand. I got a good relationship with my host family and I know the area around Whitianga . At the start I was scared about my flight because I was flying alone but when I arrived in Auckland I saw my host family and I already felt better. On the other hand I was scared that I can’t get on with my host family but that wasn’t a problem at all. After a couple of weeks I got a good relationship with my host parents and my host siblings.

    Everyone is trying to do the best for you. It doesn’t matter if you have any problems at home, at school or with friends you can always go to someone and they would help you and talk with you.

    I really enjoyed my exchange year in New Zealand. I made a lot of new experience in this half year and I improved my English.

    Anne Linn's Story

     Anne Linn

    For the past year Whitianga has been my hometown and I’ve really enjoyed my stay here. Coming to the other side of the world and immersing in a different culture has been a great experience. Mercury Bay Area School has a great atmosphere and people are very friendly here. Making new friends has been easy, and I was quickly included by both the locals and other internationals.

    The school offers a great range of subjects, and there is something for everyone to enjoy. As for myself, I’ve been attending Marine Academy every Friday. As a result of this I have gained an Open Water Diver Licence, as well as experienced countless dives in different locations around Whitianga. Another subject that I’ve really enjoyed is outdoor education. Last year we went to Mt. Ruapehu for a week and got to try out rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, natural hot pools and skiing/snowboarding. We stayed at a lodge and after finishing our main activities we spent the evenings playing cards, having table tennis tournaments, soaking in the hot tubs, watching movies or just relaxing. It was a great week!

    In my spare time I play soccer and hockey, and being involved in sports has been a great way to meet new people. When I first came to New Zealand I had never played hockey before, but the girls in my team were supportive and it has now become a sport I really enjoy. Soccer is a sport I’ve been playing since I was little and I was really happy when I found out there were enough girls to form a team this year. Last year we played a tournament and had three visiting teams from schools nearby. We played four games in one day which was really exhausting, but lots of fun at the same time. We even made it to the final and to everyone’s surprise won the whole tournament!

    The school has organised multiple activities for us internationals throughout the year. Just recently we went paintballing. We played locals vs. internationals and because the locals have way more experience than us, they won all three games, but it was still fun and hopefully we’ll do it again sometime. Also, just before Christmas while the exams were on we had three weeks’ worth of activities including kayaking, cooking, snorkelling, sailing, surfing, overnight stay at a Marae and tramping up the pinnacles.

    Overall it’s been an incredible experience and I would definitely recommend it.

    Carla's Story

     Anne Linn


    my name is Carla.

    I've been in New Zealand for half a year.

    It was a great time, probably the best and hardest few month of my entire life. One of my highlights next to all the trips I was able to do, was the horse riding. I used to ride at home and I was so happy to have a host family with 5 horses. Other than the rides on the beach I was able to take lessons with Ron Cook, who is a fabulous horse riding trainer. I've never had a trainer who's that patient but really good at the same time. I've learned so much during the lessons I had with him. He and my host family started a small academy with ribbon days and so on. I rode on one of these ribbon days on Sienna (the horse I was mostly riding during my time in Whitianga), it was a great and fun experience and I was proud to become 1st in the show jumping competition and to win a few other ribbons as well.

    What I think it's really cool is that they want to make it possible for other students to have nearly the same opportunity as I had. So that you are able to ride and learn much more about horses during school time without having your own horse/ the one of your host family. I would use that opportunity if I could come back for a few month! Wouldn't you?

    Kind regards,

    Carla from Germany


    House points after the Cross Country.

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