Best Four Months of My Life Past Review

By (Engineering Science., Trinity University) - abroad from 02/10/0014 to 06/29/2014 with

IFSA: Christchurch - University of Canterbury

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I have a much higher sense of self-confidence and I know that I can handle almost any situation. I also learned that I can meet new people and get along with them just fine. I learned a lot about myself and have grown as a person which is always a good thing. It was absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The learning process in New Zealand is much different than in the United States. They are much more focused on individual learning and there is a high expectation that students will spend more time out of class preparing for exams and assignments. Also the final exams were usually worth about 60% of your final grade and you only had 4 or 5 assignments actually due per semester. So looking in it would seem that there was less work required but that's only the case if you want to have average grades.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My program head in Christchurch was absolutely wonderful. We had weekly meetings where she usually brought us fun New Zealand treats. She really cared about us and made sure that we were all safe and enjoying our time. I always felt like if I was struggling with something I could ask her to meet up and talk about it. She also planned the best events for us such as white water rafting, an incredible weekend in Picton, and a really fun volunteering event in Christchurch. Absolutely awesome!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The flats we lived in were really close to campus (5-10 minutes walk away) and they were pretty nice. It was a good atmosphere to be around because there were a lot of international and exchange students and the accomodation office was great about putting on a lot of fun events and just being really great people. We were also a 10 minute walk away from a neat little strip center that held a grocery store, several food places and other stores that were useful.

* Food:

The food in New Zealand was pretty good. A lot of their produce is grown locally and is really nice and fresh. The fun/not so fun part is that it is all a bit more expensive than in the US but if you know how to bargain shop and especially if you go to Pak N Save then you can get a lot of stuff for not that much money. Also they don't use nearly as many preservatives in their food so things go rotten a lot quicker.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt pretty integrated in with the social and cultural scene, and I think a lot of that had to do with the New Zealand natives that I became friends with. It was still pretty obvious at times that I wasn't from there, but everyone I met was really friendly and seemed like they wanted me to enjoy my time there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I honestly didn't experience any health issues but from what I saw when other people went to the clinic or pharmacy they didn't have problem getting what they needed.

* Safety:

I felt pretty safe in Christchurch. I didn't feel weird walking around at night by myself on the few occassions that I had to do that. Usually I went out in groups so I would advise that because people are less likely to mess with you. But like I said Christchurch is pretty safe and I didn't ever run into people who made me feel uncomfortable.

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)

It was pretty easy to live off of a student's budget. You just have to be really careful with what you think is necessary. Like its not necessary to always go out to the bars or clubs three times a week, so if you don't have to then don't. Also don't feel pressured into doing something because all of your friends are. There were plenty of activites I sat out on because it was too expensive for me. Groceries should not be an issue if you go for things that are easy to make and are on sale.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $60-$150 (NZD)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Bargain hunt! Seriously it will make you feel awesome. Pak N Save is a really great grocery store because they are constantly having specials. Wednesdays and Thursdays are typically the days where they have the most/best specials so try and shop on those days.


* 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
  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Places we went to
  • People
  • How involved the staff were
* What could be improved?
  • Nothing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I was going to want to stay there for a year instead of just a semester.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.