Amazing Semester in Aotearoa January 09, 2019

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 07/05/2018 to 11/13/2018 with

IFSA: Auckland - University of Auckland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I became much more comfortable living independently in a city and planning trips either by myself or with others. I also learned so much about Aotearoa and the amazing work Maori peoples have been doing to preserve their sovereignty and language in the wake of colonization.

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.

Overall it was less intense than Brandeis. Classes are structured differently so there was much more weight placed on final exams, especially in intro level classes. This left me with a lot more free time in the first half of the semester than the second. But no complaints, not really better or worse, just different. University of Auckland is also a large urban school, which just has a different culture to it than a smaller school like Brandeis. The final exams were all heavily standardized, in the way that SAT and AP tests are, which surprised me.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IFSA staff were all very kind, helpful, and accessible. Interacting with them was always a lovely experience.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Carlaw, which is the newest of the 3 student apartment options I was given. The other 2 were Parnell (an extra 20 min walk off campus) and Unilodge (closer to campus, a single tall building, rooms had a pretty good view of the city). Carlaw was definitely the best for my needs. It was slightly off campus but still only a 10-15 min walk. There was a nice community feel, with lots of events and basketball hoops outside, that kind of thing. Extremely nice flats, barely 5 years old when I went. Highly recommend.

* Food:

Cooked my own food. Good food options on campus during the day. There was a grocery store a 15 min walk away from where I lived.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Really depends on the individual. Because you're directly enrolled in the university, that makes it easier to find local students to talk to. I had 2 flatmates from NZ and it was a priority of mine to form relationships with people from NZ, so yes I felt like I was fairly integrated. But it's also easy to mostly hang out with other Americans. It's not super hard to get more integrated, it just takes a bit of effort. So I think it largely depends on what you want to focus your energy on.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Had good medical insurance through IFSA. I did fill out an online application to see a therapist about a month into the trip and it took a while to finally see someone at the school, about 6 weeks. Everyone I met in the health center was very kind, things just took longer than I was expecting.

* Safety:

Auckland seemed like a very safe city to me. The only common advice I heard was don't walk in the parks at night. Otherwise, the streets are well lit and the area around campus especially felt very safe.

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

I met so many incredible people in my program and in Auckland, I would absolutely choose it again.


* 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)

Auckland is not an especially cheap place to live. It's pretty comparable to Boston & the Greater Boston area.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Limit how much you eat out and how much you drink in bars. Making your own food as much as possible definitely helps.


* 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

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?
  • Meeting local students & others in my program
  • Flexibility with IFSA -- after orientation you could participate in the events as much or as little as you wanted (and they were all very fun)
  • Taking Maori and Pacific studies classes at the University
* What could be improved?
  • The first few days were a little stressful because we had orientation, had to wait a few days to unpack/get settled and get a NZ sim card
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The time went by very fast so make sure to plan ahead so you don't run out of time to do something you really want to do.

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.'