Better than I ever imagined Past Review

By (Valparaiso University) - abroad from 02/15/2012 to 06/21/2012 with

IFSA: Dunedin - University of Otago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As cheesy and cliche as this sounds, you really learn a ton about yourself and what you really want. My life and career goals are clearer than they have ever been before. Though no one really thinks of NZ as the foreign country to travel to since it doesn't have the same pedigree as European countries, you still gain a global perspective as it is a different country and is distinctly different from home. Kiwis are so friendly and they easily will accept Americans. I learned more from hiking and traveling with Kiwis, other internationals and Americans than I would have touring castles and museums. It was beyond worthwhile and I would go back and do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I will go back in the future.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes are huge and there is not much class discussion, but the professors are friendly and willing to help in any way they can.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Both the IFSA-Butler staff and the international administrators at the University of Otago were incredible. They really made the transition easy and would quickly do their best to address any questions or concerns.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The flats are uninsulated and basic. But, they do an excellent job of matching flatmates. I loved my flatmates and they became (hopefully) lifelong good friends.

* Food:

You largely cook your own food, but every time I ate out it was delicious, if a bit expensive.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The "kiwihost" is an awesome thing they do because you're automatically closely associated with a native New Zealander. And if you have a good one, they'll include you in their group and give you and insider's perspective from the start.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no health issues while abroad, but I had a friend have their appendix taken out, a flatmate break their foot, and my kiwihost tore his ACL. All were covered by insurance and didn't pay a penny to restore them to fighting form. If anything happens, NZ makes sure you're properly treated.

* Safety:

We never locked our doors, nothing was stolen, nothing was vandalized. You could walk around the city at all hours. New Zealand is incredibly refreshing in that respect (among many others).

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)

The biggest expense with New Zealand is the plane ticket, but there's no way around it. Once you're there, nothing is really expensive though. While certain things (like food) may seem pricier, you have to keep in mind that the American dollar is (or was when I was there) significantly stronger than the New Zealand dollar so everything mostly evens out with the exchange rate. I traveled for a week and saw most of the south island for less than $500. The only time it would get difficult would be if you were one who felt the need to go out for food and drinks constantly.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75-150, depending on how extravagant I was feeling
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook your own food, don't overdo it on the alcohol, and travel in a group because that keeps the gas prices down. And stay in hostels because they're cheap and safe and you meet cool people.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • The people I met
  • The landscape
  • The never-ending list of activities and adventures
* What could be improved?
  • Class structure
  • housing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had believed people when they told me New Zealand is cold in the winter. And that I had worked out more before coming because those mountains are a huge change from flat Chicago.