Auckland, New Zealand - Sweet as! Past Review

By (Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology., The University of Texas at Austin) for

IES Abroad: Auckland Direct Enrollment - University Of Auckland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much from this experience. I grew more independent and learned that I could live on my own in a different country. I never got home sick, that's how much I loved being here. I would actually love to stay in New Zealand if I had a different career goal. I have grown to be a more relaxed, open-minded, independent, and mature person.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The grading was quite different - not just the system, but how the instructors evaluated my course work. For example, for my history course, I got penalized on my essay for being too original and unique because they preferred that we kept it simple. They would rather have all students write on the same topic and the same basic level than try to branch out, which I found very strange because in the US, our istructors try to influence the opposite. I feel that they didn't have high expectations for their students, and being "more educated and trying harder" actually translated to a lower mark. This is just my experience though. The system itself was different. Anything above 50% is considered passing (C-). It seems good when you first hear about it, but they also grade a lot harder here so your grades are still pretty low despite this change. Also, we were not allowed to take more than two 100-level courses, which was difficult for me since the courses I needed to take were mostly 100-level. Therefore, I had to take 200-level physics instead, which I was not prepared for at all.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I would have liked it if the faculty was more accessible to students.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The location was really wonderful - close to downtown and campus, so I didn't miss having a car at all. Everything was in walking distance, which also made it seem safer to walk around late at night. I didn't like that they put me only with international students and other exchange students. I would have liked to have had some Kiwi roommates so I could have learned more about New Zealand. I felt that they purposefully kept the Kiwi students apart from all the international students, which was really a shame. Utensils, dishes, and cookware was provided. The place was furnished. I did have to buy my own bedding. There was no cleaning service, so it was difficult living with really messy roommates who never cleaned up after themselves, so I had to clean up their mess everyday. There was also an end-of-the-year inspection, where everyone had to clean their apartment and get it checked. They were really strict and rude about it, and charged us simply because our stove top had some scratches on it. Most of the staff was nice, but one particular one was really rude to me everytime I asked for help.

* Food:

They are pretty vegetarian friendly in Auckland. The variation is food is different than it is back home, and is a lot more expensive. The quantity is roughly the same, but you are paying twice as much for it. I would just recommend going to random places in town and just trying what you can. One thing I loved about Auckland is that there were bakeries on every corner, which I could not keep myself away from. We don't have any back home - Starbucks in the closest thing I can find to a bakery, but here in Auckland there are so many different places. That is one thing I am going to miss.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I enjoyed the Maori influence found in Auckland. The few events that IES organized were really fun, although I wish there were more. I planned most of my travelling on my own though with other friends in the program, which were really good experiences.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt that New Zealand was a bit safer than the US. Walking home late by myself late at night was not a big problem as it is back home. I never had any problems. I did not have to use any form of healthcare during my stay, so I can't comment on how it compares to that back home. I don't recall having to take any specific vaccines to come to New Zealand besides the basic ones we are required to have as Americans.

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? A lot of international students from other countries paid a lot less than I did for tuition, so I think that should be looked into. I didn't anticipate to spend so much on food, about twice as much a month as I would back home, in US dollars, which is quite a lot. Also, transportation is quite expensive since I didn't have a car. I had to pay $9-15 per roundtrip to make visits in suburbs around Auckland, as well as pay for buses between cities, which can cost up to $40 one-way. Most of my travel expenses went into the high cost of transportation and food.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be open to different views, be ready to grow more independent, and be prepared to have a lot of fun. This program is great for any student.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics

Course Department: PHYSICS 220
Instructor: Lionel Watkins, Roger Davies
Instruction Language: Englsh
Comments: Very difficult, they expected all students to have some sort of background knowledge, which very few did. The class average was about 40%. Dr. Watkins was inaccessible outside of class, which was frustrating.
Credit Transfer Issues: Too difficult for the evaluation I received. I should have taken an easier version of physics at the 100-level.
Course Name/Rating:

USA History: Colonial - Present

Course Department: HISTORY 108
Instructor: Paul Taillon
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course covered the entire history of the US, whereas back home this would be split into two separate courses. Because of this, not too much time was spent on each topic, and all we received was a basic knowledge about the different events and eras. The course was kept at this basic level, so for our essays, we were also expected to stay simple and not go beyond basic knowledge, which was difficult for me as an American already having a more detailed knowledge about US History. I was penalized on my essays for having "originality" and doing "too much research", while in my previous history course taken at UT Austion, I would have been praised for doing this. They did not seem to have high expectations from their students, and instead penalized those who went up and beyond. But other than that, the lecturer was great and kept the course interesting.
Credit Transfer Issues: No, this course was easily evaluated for the required second-semester US history.
Course Name/Rating:

Coming of the Maori

Course Department: ANTHRO 207
Instructor: Miranda Allen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was interesting and not too difficult.
Credit Transfer Issues: No.
Course Name/Rating:

Beginner's Spanish II

Course Department: SPANISH 105
Instructor: Rachel Bogen
Instruction Language: Spanish, English
Comments: Very good and helped improve my basic Spanish
Credit Transfer Issues: Yes. I was evaluated for a Spanish much higher than what I should have, and cannot get this evaluation reversed, so next semester I have to take a much harder Spanish that I am not prepared for. I will have to teach a lot of it to myself if I want to do well, which is unfortunate.