There and Back Again: A Student's Tale Through Middle Earth Past Review

By (Engineering Science., Trinity University) for

IFSA: Auckland - University of Auckland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I've learned about the hardships and challenges faced by the native cultures of New Zealand and Australia in reaction to European settlers, and I feel like this knowledge has given me some perspective, in which I could view Western European/American culture from the outside looking in. I could see how fortunate I am, and the flaws in American culture that I sometimes perpetuate. On another note, I learned to appreciate my individuality and interests because of the Kiwis strong sense of self and laidback attitude about life and their peers. This realization of self-appreciation has encouraged me to apply my engineering degree to do something that I enjoy rather than spend my time doing research in a field that does not hold much interest for me.

Review Photos

IFSA-Butler: Auckland - University of Auckland Photo IFSA-Butler: Auckland - University of Auckland Photo IFSA-Butler: Auckland - University of Auckland Photo IFSA-Butler: Auckland - University of Auckland Photo

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.

As said many times before, the New Zealand academic system rests mostly on the student; it is mostly the student's decision as to how much they want to learn from a given class. For instance, a student can take a proactive approach, studying regularly, asking the professor questions, and doing extra reading; or a student can do the bare minimum, simply doing what is necessary to complete the rare homework assignments and pass the tests. Overall, assignments and mid-semester tests are worth a small percentage of a semester grade; the final exam typically comprises 60-70% of a student's final grade, which is a huge departure from the American academic system.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They were friendly and always reachable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The location and facilities were great; I only wish I could have lived with Kiwis to experience the culture on a deeper level.

* Food:

I am dairy intolerant, but New Zealand was very accommodating to my needs and has tons of vegetarian options for those with such dietary restrictions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I bonded extremely well with most members of my IFSA-Butler group through orientation and excursions throughout the semester.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

All of New Zealand is extremely safe compared to most U.S. cities in terms of crime. Only petty theft is a problem, so try not to leave any valuables in cars when you park somewhere. Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand, indicating that it has a large probability of having the most crime, but I still felt completely safe even late at night and never had any trouble. The risks in New Zealand are mostly the individual's responsibility and arise chiefly during adventure activities such as rock climbing, hiking, bungy-jumping, etc.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I didn't keep a very good record of my spending from week to week while abroad, but I can say that food is typically a lot more expensive in New Zealand even with the exchange rate conversion. I probably spent between NZ$ 100-200 per week on food and small things. However, a lot of money can be saved by buying fresh food at local Asian markets and cooking for yourself; just remember that you need to use up the food quickly or it will spoil.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would recommend setting up a New Zealand bank account soon after you are settled into your student housing (it's free to do so at most banks) and transfer a good chunk of money into it for use throughout the semester. Despite the fact that there might be an initial charge to tranfer the chunk of monety, the NZ account allows you to access your money without getting charged a certain percentage of the cost everytime you buy something with a credit card or withdraw cash from a foreign account.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you love athletic, adventurous outdoor activities and gorgeous scenery, but don't care much for amazing cities and food, you'll fully enjoy New Zealand.