Studying Abroad in New Zealand: Life Changing Experience Past Review

By (Biology, General., Trinity University) for

IFSA: Wellington - Victoria University of Wellington

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes the experience was worthwhile. I got a new understanding of what it was like living in a new culture. One of the national languages may have been English but there were so many differences between New Zealand English and USA English. This experience made me aware that I would like to go abroad and visit so many other countries in the future. The experience gave me a new view of my major, biology, and gave me a new cultural awareness of Maori culture.

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was very manageable since most of the classes do not have the daily homework assignments. The grading system got a bit confusing at times since what would be a C in the USA is at least a B in New Zealand. Teaching methods were lecture style with tutorial sessions to go to. If you had questions, you would contact your tutorial instructor before your teacher normally.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Going through Ifsa-butler, each university had a SSC, student support coordinator. This person would set up weekly meetings and be there to help with any problems. The main Ifsa-butler office in New Zealand was also in Wellington so there were plenty of other people you could go to for support if needed. The program was very orderly and had events planned throughout the stay in New Zealand. The program and SSC were willing to answer and questions about New Zealand and knew about American higher education and what it was like studying abroad since many of them had been abroad. The program split everyone going to New Zealand into groups mostly by what university you were going to. My orientation group had a total of around 26 students studying abroad and going to 5 different universities. The expectations I had were met and I was really glad there was support in case I needed it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was put in university housing. It was off campus apartment style living. I was with 3 other girls, 2 Americans and 1 kiwi host. The neighborhood was pretty safe since there were fellow study abroad students all along the street and nearby streets. The flat was between 5-10 minutes from the main campus but there are a total of 4-5 Vic campuses so if you had classes at another campus it could be a longer walk or bus ride. Since the main Vic campus, Kelburn was on the hill it was about 10-20 minutes to downtown Wellington and depending on where you were going it could be longer. I did not need to buy any items except food to settle in since the flat had everything provided from cookware in the kitchen to couches in the living room. Each bedroom had their own key so if you needed you could lock your door so no one else could get in if you left.

* Food:

The food quality and quantity were good. There was just a bit of a hike to get it back up to the flat. Some advice on where to dine would be la casa pasta and the small crepes stand on Manners Mall. For dessert one could go get gelato in numerous places around Wellington.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Memorable cultural events were going to the marae and learning Maori culture. It was also nice to be able to take weekend trips and get anywhere easily. Wellington is pretty much in the middle of New Zealand so it made getting anywhere easy.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Wellington was pretty safe. You just need to take normal precautions like walk with someone at night and don't go into dark scary alleys. There were no safety related incidents. I did not have any experience with healthcare. There were no prevalent health issues and I did not need any vaccines for this program.

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 probably spent 50-100 NZD a week. My flat cooked together so the food was mostly split four ways and I did not have too many personal expenses other than getting gifts and clothes for myself.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you can go get groceries at pac-n-save, do so. It is much cheaper than New World. And make sure you have other ways to pay for things in case something happens to your main way to pay for things. Also make sure your credit card companies know you are going to be out of the country since they may otherwise issue you a new credit card and cancel your old one.


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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
  • Local Students
* 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 want a program with plenty of support when you get to your univeristy as well as having optional group adventures, Ifsa-butler is for you. I think any student would benefit from this program especially those who want to have support wherever you are abroad.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Te Iwi Maori me ana Tikanga/Maori Society and Culture

Course Department: Maori Studies (MAOR 123)
Instructor: Marie Cocker and guest speakers
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course had a lot of work with it compared to my other classes. There were daily readings for each lecture, a few small papers, one large final paper, and an extensive final exam over everything. The final exam was multiple choice and then multiple short answer questions and one essay. It took the full 3 hours. I enjoyed this class we got to tour the marae and go through the powhiri, welcoming ceremony. This is a one of a kind class since I would never learned so much about New Zealand's past and present concerning the Maori people.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues so far. I know it will fit into common curriculum at Trinity so I just need to get it approved at the office.
Course Name/Rating:

Biodiversity and Conservation

Course Department: Biological Sciences (BIOL 132)
Instructor: Stephen Hartley, K.C. Burns, James Bell, Don Merton, Phil Lester, Ken Ryan, and Nicky Nelson
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Most of the instructors took one module which lasted two weeks, there was one module where there were two instructors each took one week. I really enjoyed the class. It brought up biodiversity in New Zealand in various ways that focused on the professors specialty. Some parts were on plants, marine biology, and even herpetology. There were tests every two weeks on each module and a couple of papers to write.
Credit Transfer Issues: None so far since my grades have not arrived at Trinity University. I'm getting credit for the class though since the biology department signed off on it.
Course Name/Rating:

Statistics for Natural and Social Sciences

Course Department: Statistics (STAT 193)
Instructor: Yuichi Hirose, I-Ming Liu, and Megan Clark
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I was very glad to get into this class since I needed to take a statistics class for my biology major and this class was specifically for the natural sciences. This class had optional tutorials, weekly assignments or projects due, a midterm and a final exam. It was new material so some of it was harder to learn but I feel like I understood the material even better by doing the readings and the homework.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues with transfer credit. I had already gotten this class approved for my biology major by the biology department and the math department.
Course Name/Rating:

Antarctica: Unfreezing the Continent

Course Department: Geology (ESCI 132)
Instructor: Clifford Atkins and various guest speakers
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class went on all the aspects of Antarctica from geology to speakers explaining the wildlife to the history of exploration and personal experiences in Antarctica. This was a very neat class since I knew practically nothing about Antarctica and it gave me a new perspective. This class had a midterm, a lab most weeks, a final exam, and a paper along with a few other small assignments for the labs.
Credit Transfer Issues: None so far. I am planning to go try and get credit for my biology major with this class but I hadn't done so before I left Trinity for New Zealand. This class with otherwise count as elective credits.