Ein Gap Year In New Zealand

Kia ora students of the Athenaeum, 

Many of you, specifically the older ones, are asking themselves, “What am I going to do after school?”. The answer is not very easy, in the light of 19’000 study programmes and hundreds of apprenticeships. You perhaps would like to have a leave for one year, like me. I have decided to do a volunteer year (IJFD) in Aotearoa, New Zealand. If you want more background information about my journey, stay tuned as I will write several articles about my experience in the next ten months. First of all, I am grateful for the financial support from our Förderverein at the Athenaeum. They have supported me in realising my IJFD. For your overarching understanding:

What do I do in New Zealand? 

As a part of the IJFD, I work for the boarding school Thomas House, which belongs to the Timaru Boys’ High School (TBHS, https://timaruboys.school.nz). I take care of 130 students from Monday to Friday in different shifts. That means, if I have a morning shift, I will wake up our students at 7:00 am and make sure that they eat breakfast, get dressed and clean their rooms. Also, there is Jannes, another volunteer from Germany, who does the same as I do. 

Where do I live? 

The TBHS is in Timaru on the south island of New Zealand. It is a town with 30’000 inhabitants belonging to South Canterbury’s district. The region is rather rural-shaped, and you should know that one of five million Kiwis live on the south island. I live in a shared apartment with Jannes on the ground of Thomas House, next to our students. 

What is my first impression? 

After a 24-hours-flight, we arrived in Christchurch, it was raining, and the weather was generally cold as it is the winter season here. The principal of the TBHS picked us up and drove us directly to the Thomas House after a short stop at McDonald’s. Since then, I have been in New Zealand for four weeks. The people I first met were kind and hospitable. However, it is pretty challenging to be surrounded by growing-up boys the entire time. Mostly every boy goes hunting and shooting, significantly different from Germany.

If there are any questions, feel free to email me (julian.martin@athenetz.de). 

Best wishes from Aotearoa,


PS: After my gap year, I will come back to the Athenaeum for your questions and share my experience. Furthermore, my next article will be about the differences at school.