There and back again Past Review

By (Anthropology., Western Washington University) - abroad from 07/04/2012 to 11/12/2012 with

IES Abroad: Auckland Direct Enrollment - University Of Auckland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The most important thing I think I gained from this experience was a sense of independence. As a junior I've lived away from my family for a little while but this was my first real solo travel experience. As I write this I am actually still in New Zealand a month after the end of my program and will still be here for another two weeks before going home. In this time I have traveled and camped my way around the country, something I couldn't have imagined doing prior to this. I have made connections with people not only from NZ but from all over the states and the world and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

University of Auckland is a centrally located campus with a fairly large student population (~40,000). Class sizes are typically large and fairly impersonal but with the help of smaller weekly tutorials you have a chance to connect on a more face-to-face level. As for difficultly it is pretty standard school fare, many professors take the time to record lectures or post their notes online which is extremely helpful. A note for american students who are used to finals being <20% of their grades, finals in NZ are upwards of 60% so saving all the learning for the end gives you a very stressful study break that could be better spent traveling.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Andrew is the man, plain and simple. This was only his second semester managing a group of IES students and he did so with style. He was always available via text or call and took a very active role in all of our IES sponsored activities.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the self-catered parnell student apartments (PSV) a quick (uphill both ways) 20 minute walk to campus. Everyone has their own room and the flats were spacious and well-maintained even though the 1970s rather weird architecture could use a revamp. The only real downside was that they afforded very little chance to meet local students as the residents were 100% international (this could also be considered a positive though, because I now have a lot of connections all around the world). This changes on a semester to semester case though so perhaps they will balance it out more next semester.

* Food:

Food in NZ is pretty much the same as food in the US with a few notable brand differences. Groceries are expensive though, if you live in a self-catered flat I recommend doing some joint dinners with your flatmates.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

As I mentioned above, PSV afforded me little chance to meet kiwis outside of class but the program and my uni classes definitely help with cultural integration. Although general kiwi culture isn't vastly different from other western cultures there are some fun cultural and linguistic ticks that you end up picking up on. I was also fortunate enough to take a class in Maori cultural studies which really put a lot of the culture and politics of NZ into perspective.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no issues with healthcare, if you are on birth control bring a six month supply as it is very expensive here.

* Safety:

I never once felt unsafe walking in Auckland or the entirety of NZ for that matter. As long as you exercise reasonable caution as with any big city there is practically no cause to doubt your safety.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Have a plan when buying food because it is very expensive here but it is definitely manageable. Basic living needs aren't the problem here in NZ. The real black hole your money will fall into is adventure sports: bungy, skydiving, caving, rafting... all worth it.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Location
  • Peers
* What could be improved?
  • More group activities earlier in the semester
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Try everything! You might think now that bungy jumping isn't for you but I promise it is, just go for it.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'