Oh the Places You’ll Go!

Even though it’s been a few weeks now since our “spring” term break, this is the earliest opportunity we’ve had to share a story from one of our students–Dena DeKryger (Calvin College ’17). The semester sure has been full recently! Dena, Troy (Dordt College ’16), Sarah (Dordt College ’16), Andy (Cedarville ’17) and Malorie (Cedarville ’16) all went on a tramping (backpacking) trip together in world-renowned Fiordland National Park in the South Island:

“The Greenstone-Caples loop track is a good four-day tramp through beech forests, tussocked grasslands, and mountainous rockslide zones. Four of my friends and I decided that we wanted to tackle this track on our semester break. We prepared by getting good hiking food like porridge for breakfast and pasta for tea. We prepared by filling our water bottles before setting out on Tuesday morning. What we weren’t prepared for was the rain throughout the day on Wednesday; we were soaked to the skin within a half hour of our seven-hour hike.

This second section of four brought us 22 km from the Mid-Caples Hut to the McKeller Hut, up and over the McKeller Saddle (a saddle is where two mountains rub shoulders, creating a relatively higher spot in the valley between them). On the way up, we kept getting colder and colder as the wind picked up around us. Occasionally, we heard deep rumbling that lasted for up to 10 seconds, as well as the rare clap of thunder (NZed does not often have thunder storms because of the mountains and ocean in such close proximity). The small streams we needed to ford were more like rushing streams, soaking and re-soaking our hiking boots as we crossed. Once we reached the McKeller Saddle at +900 meters, the wind nearly knocked me off the boardwalk into the marshy swamp at the Saddle!

Because I wasn’t feeling well, I soon began to lag behind my friends. This was more than OK with me because, behind us, there were three other hikers that we had met the night before at the Mid-Caples Hut: Sue, her husband Ross, and a young German named Nikolas. Ross lent me his walking stick, which helped to keep me walking upright instead of dragging my waterlogged feet. Soon, I was hiking with only Nikolas as my friends had gone on ahead, and Sue and Ross stopped to take pictures. Nikolas told me all about his gap year here in N-Zed (as they pronounce “Z” here in New Zealand), his time picking apples near Nelson, the amazing hikes he has accomplished, and the strange people he’s met while hitchhiking. He has some “crazy as” (New Zealand slang for “super crazy!”) stories, but I was thankful for his company in the rain. Once we reached the McKeller Hut, he shared a cuppa tea with me; funny how a few hours of hard hiking in the rain build friendships in a way that years together can’t!

While I was hiking, my mind went as numb as my toes: I didn’t think about a whole lot. In fact, I rarely even looked up to see my surroundings. Yet, looking back, I am thankful for that rain and wind; I faced the raw elements of NZed weather and survived. I am thankful for the blisters on my heels and the ache in my knee; they remind me of the great physical feat that I realized last week. I am thankful for Sue, Ross, and Nikolas; what great hiking partners they all made. I am thankful for the DOC huts; tenting would have been that much more miserable! I am thankful for my friends: Malorie, Andy, Troy, and Sarah; I would not have made it if not for their encouragement and companionship.”

Dena DeKryger

Calvin College ’17

MtCookandTasmanGlacier 10-18
Mt Cook and Tasman Glacier

Maoraki bouldersMaoraki boulders


Doing Life Together

Bryce, a junior at Hope College, has been keeping a blog during her time here in New Zealand. We loved her one post in particular, “Doing Life Together”, and wanted to share that here to give a better idea of what life as a student at CCSP New Zealand looks like! You can find more of Bryce’s blog posts at the Hope College study abroad blog.  

I’ve loved sharing with you all the adventures I’ve been having away from The Old Convent, but really, my favorite part about life in New Zealand is often the things that happen in my day-to-day life here. What separates CCSP from other study abroad programs is the concept of ‘doing life together’ that it embodies. Rather than students living in dormitories and staff driving in each day, we all live under one roof. Doing life together is about living in community with those around you. We eat meals together, do chores together, garden together, fellowship together. Doing life together involves so much more, though.


Some of us double dutch…


Some of us don’t…

It involves Pictionary study breaks and late night conversations in the lounge and dance parties in the kitchen. It involves biking to town together, double-dutch before class and homemaking sessions. (Homemaking sessions are great! Each week, we have a homemaking session in which we learn practical tools to help us in everyday life. So far we’ve had bike repair, gardening, and this weeks’ natural remedies.) It also involves epic birthday parties. CCSP loves to celebrate birthdays.  The twins had a ninja themed birthday party in which we stole chocolate granola hidden around the convent, ate some of their favorite and least favorite foods (I got straight vegemite. Nasty.), bobbed for apples, and ate chocolate with goggles on while being sprayed by the garden hose. It was pretty grand. The people you meet the first day at the airport quickly become like family.



This is the “wait, do I actually have to lick this wasabi off this plate?!” face..
Yes, yes you do.


Ninjas, chocolate, goggles, and hoses. What is this community stuff?!


We make some pretty epic salsa




Bryce 6The infamous salsa taste tester Nathan


Experimental tea making in the process. Drink at your own risk.


Natural remedies homemaking session called for some pretty great face masks

As much as I could continue to rave about all the great things that come with living in community together, I want to share a little bit about how the class structure is unique too. CCSP flies in guest professors to teach each course, so classes run quite differently from the States. Each week, we only have one course. We attend class 3 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night Monday thru Friday. At the end of the week, a test or essay concludes the course. Each course is taken for a total of two weeks during the semester, so, for example, I’ve already taken 2 weeks of Sustainable Community Development, so I’m done with that course. A few weeks ago I took God and Nature I, and will conclude that 4-credit course later in the semester with God and Nature II. The workload is no heavier than that at home, but it is all in one course rather than 4 or 5. Best part: no homework on the weekends. But that aside, the courses I’ve taken thus far have challenged the way I think and the lifestyle I live and it has made me really consider what it means to be a good steward of God’s call on humanity.

I feel as though I’ve really found my place here at CCSP and I personally think I have made the best decision ever! CCSP is a really great opportunity to make the most of your experience abroad with its integration with the local community and “doing life together” mentality. If you have any questions about CCSP or life in New Zealand in general, I’d love to chat with you!

Until the next adventure,


Hope College, class of 2017