In New Zealand, the end of May and beginning of June mean the end of classes, the beginning of exams, and the beginning of winter.
The end of classes came out of nowhere between our last few trips of the semester. My group of friends and I made the most of the last few weekends, and traveled to Wellington, back to Queenstown, hiked Silver Peaks outside of Dunedin to Jubilee Hut and managed to do a lot throughout Dunedin and the surrounding areas that we kept putting off to the end-- Tunnel Beach, the Otago Museum, and Signal Hill just to name a few. All of the necessary last-minute assignments were accomplished, and then we realized that final exams were around the corner and studying was next on the agenda.
The finals period here is very different than the United States, instead of cramming four finals into a period of less than a week, they have almost a week of study days and then three weeks of exams. I was lucky enough to have one of my 'finals' on the last day of classes because one of my papers was strictly internal. This opened up my exam period as my other two exams are within two days of each other right in the middle. Since I am used to how US universities run exams with four in less than a week, my friend and I decided to do some traveling beforehand. We headed up to the North Island for a few days and even with the ups and downs that came with a canceled flight and a day of rainy weather it was still nice to get out of Dunedin for a few days! The North Island is very different from the South Island, and it was nice to explore it more than the four days of orientation.
Even though I have been here for many months and experienced some cold days, I still did not believe that it actually got cold enough here where it could snow, until the fateful night of May 31st. At 9:30 pm, my friend and I really thought we needed ice cream, and with Night n' Day, a 24-hour store, only two blocks away we were too tempted to say no. We knew it was raining outside, but we thought we heard it slow down; so we threw on our raincoats and ran outside where it was not just raining, but hailing. Parts of some streets were flooded, and the sidewalks were covered in hail. I was in disbelief and realized that when we got back from the North Island there was a good chance that Dunedin could get snow or ice. Then the next day as I scrolled through social media, I saw people on the road to Queenstown and at Lake Tekapo all in snowy areas. At least when I leave New Zealand, I will be going home to summer!!
That is all from me for now, I am off to spend some more time in the sunnier North Island and then get cracking down for exams!