A giant adventure! February 19, 2021

By (Vanderbilt University) - abroad from 07/04/2021 to 11/11/2019 with

IFSA: Christchurch - University of Canterbury

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I definitely gained a sense of independence. One day over spring break between trips I was back in Christchurch for the day but none of my friends were. I walked to the mall to get groceries and enjoyed hammocking outside by myself. I'm surprised by how easily I found myself doing that because I am someone who loves to be around people. Visiting a foreign country and living there without family really helped me grow and learn to fend for myself.

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.

I found the academics to be less challenging in the United States but I know many students found it difficult to adjust to how different it was.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff was wonderful! They are very passionate about helping students study abroad and are very easy to communicate with both before and after arrival abroad.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I'm rating this about average because where I was living was mostly international students. It was nice to have some familiar culture but it also meant I had to work harder to meet locals. I did happen to live with two Kiwis but in other flats there was only one or none. My building did not have ovens (this wasn't a problem for me) but some of the other dorms do.

* Food:

The food in NZ was great! There are a few places close to campus/living (Dubba Dubba and Captain Ben's) which were cheap and delicious food!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Once I joined a club (the kayaking club) I felt very integrated and made some genuine friends. It definitely didn't feel this "inside" until about midway through the semester though.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was sick with a sore throat and easily made an appointment with the student wellbeing center. My visit and accompanying medication were free which was a huge change from home and a very nice surprise.

* Safety:

I felt very safe while there. The suburb where the university is is very walkable and there is convenient public transportation.

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

I was skeptical about a program limiting me but having people take care of my housing, initial transportation, and looking after me throughout my entire trip made me feel so much safer and willing to explore. I think if I had to handle it alone I would have been overwhelmed and struggled.


* 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)

Groceries were very reasonably priced but travels were the majority of my budget.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
* 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?
  • communication
  • included excursions
* What could be improved?
  • truthfully, can't think of anything
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? get involved on campus earlier! ifsa is a great way to meet people to become your away from home family (familiar, comfort friends) but I wished I had gotten to know some of the locals earlier in the semester

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.