At the beginning of my 10th grade I decided to go abroad. It was clear to me that it would be New Zealand because of its fascinating landscape and culture. Together with my friends and parents, I started to look for information on exchange organizations, searched on the Internet and asked for advice. It was not long before I chose into over quite a big number of different organizations. The program development as well as information regarding the preparation seemed to go very well.
The first step was a non-binding application with into. This was followed by a kind of interview in the into office in Cologne. There I was extensively informed about the program with all its benefits and costs. In the case of New Zealand, it was possible to choose from a number of schools - depending on your interests, desired area or range of subjects. I quickly decided that I would like to go to a school in the North Island. After a short English test at the end of the interview, I was offered to be included in the exchange program. Then, everything went very quickly. A short time later, my parents and I received the contract and started filling out the extensive documentation. After undergoing all necessary doctor visits and vaccinations, looking for some photos, etc., everything was sent back to the into office and I could relax a bit. We were constantly updated on the process.
In the spring we received 2 thick manuals with important information about the upcoming exchange - one parents' and one student's handbook. I exchanged a couple of emails asking further questions to my counsellor. In early May my Preparation Seminar in Bonn took place. This seminar was held over the weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday evening. There I had the opportunity to meet other future into exchange students in New Zealand and ask any questions to either 2 into trainers or former New Zealand exchange students. They spoke about their own experience and gave us many tips and tricks about how to solve possible problems. Topics such as flight, school, family, insurance, travel, etc. were addressed during that weekend. The experience of former or recently returned exchange students were particularly helpful. The night seemed to be a little short because there were many photos being shown and further discussions in small groups were held. The seminar was tiring due to the amount of information, but nicely planned and very funny at the same time! Many things were clearly shown in a playful way. The weekend was great! I still have contact with the pre-departure seminar participants and we have become good friends.
Since I arrived in New Zealand, my contact with into was not so intense. I sent some emails to my counsellor at the beginning, but almost none later on. And the reason was simple – I had no problems during my stay. The only one came up during the time when my return date was getting closer. However, I received help from into really quickly.
I received a certificate following my exchange from into and had the opportunity to participate in a Returnees' meeting. To sum up, I can recommend everybody an exchange program with into! I was well informed before my departure and will never regret my decision for New Zealand! There was a very sound preparation, any possible questions were answered and I and my parents always felt in good hands. I had a great time abroad.