Excitingly adventurous. Expanding horizons. Missing it dearly. Past Review

By (Claremont McKenna College) - abroad from 06/28/2016 to 11/13/2016 with

ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was very worthwhile. I learned about myself and about how independent I am. I learned SO much about Maori and Kiwi culture. I made some pretty amazing friends that I will definitely keep in touch with. Studying abroad in New Zealand essentially provided me with an amazing break in my college experience from work, work, work and allowed for me to relax, relax, relax. It allowed for me to just worry about exploring and traveling and myself rather than what grade I am going to get and where I can fit in another meeting in my schedule. It allowed me to get reinvigorated about going back to my home uni and finish off getting my degree. Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions in my life.

Review Photos

ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand Photo ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand Photo ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand Photo ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand Photo ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand Photo

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.

I personally thought that my classes were fairly easy. This was also with me taking only 1 upper division course (beyond a first year course)and that course being a part of my major (Psychology). Also, I knew that my grades while abroad wouldn't count towards my home GPA - therefore I didn't have to stress about grades as much. I don't want to say that the classes will be easy for everyone - I personally just did not think they were difficult.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I had a wonderful time and our programs leaders were amazing and extremely friendly. I know a few people who didn't feel like they really connected with those leaders though. The main reason being that the leaders are so friendly that it is a little much for quieter, more reserved (but not shy) people. Especially since they would always ask those students if they were okay if they were being quiet when in reality that is just how they are - it makes it seem to the students that they might have something abnormal about them: but it is wonderful that they program leaders are checking in with students individually. All of the events/trips our program had were wonderful and planned very well in my opinion - from our Orientation to our Queen Charlotte Sound Trip to our Surfing Lesson. I thought they were all a ton of fun and I had a great time bonding with our New Zealand native leaders and the rest of the students on the program!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was very satisfied with my living arrangements (I lived in Everton Hall). My flatmates were really friendly and accepting and our flat was always cleanly. We also never had a problem with someone not cleaning something, etc. However, the wifi was iffy at time, which was really frustrating. The Everton Hall staff were amazing and so so friendly and really cared about the international students. They were always asking how I was doing, etc. and really tried to make me feel at home. However, my friend (I doubt she will fill out a report) didn't have the greatest arrangement. I don't think this was in Arcadia's control but she lived in Everton as well but was with 2 other international girls and 2 kiwi boys. The boys were horrible flatmates and were rude and insensitive and sometimes racist and homophobic. They also did not participate in flat cleanings and were disrespectful when it came to noise at late late (2am) hours. My friend was often complaining about them and had to talk to the Everton staff about them several times. However, overall, my friend had an amazing time as well and does not regret her decision in the slightest - I just wanted to mention this for her.

* Food:

If you are talking about the food that Arcadia provided while on trips, it was great. Otherwise I don't believe we were given any other food by our program - we provided ourselves with food and cooked for ourselves.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I personally felt really involved in and integrated with the local culture and community. It wasn't really that big of a difference between the United States but it was the first time that I have actually lived *in* a city. I am from a small town in Arkansas so it was a pretty big shift from that. However, Wellington is an amazing city to live in and isn't too large and overwhelming for someone who hasn't experienced city living. The grocery store was about an 8 to 10 minute walk away. Campus was a 10 minute walk. There were many things to go do. Always a new cafe or restaurant to try out. And (if you are into this kinda thing) there are many many bars to try out and go between - which I don't think you are allowed to advertise to students but...I thought it was a great and wonderful part of Wellington. I also was able to participate in something called 'World of Wearable Arts', which is one of New Zealand biggest events and is held in Wellington. It is essentially a fashion show that is integrated into a sort of play/story. It was amazing and I was able to volunteer for a week and help out with selling merchandise. I recommend that students do this and I believe this show happens every Spring in New Zealand (so every fall semester for the states). So this allowed me to meet some New Zealand and Australian friends and feel even more integrated.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Our program was very thorough when they went through health issues and how to handle them. I had a slight mishap when I was in New Zealand that required me to go to the hospital and the woman in charge of our program in New Zealand was very helpful when helping me through that and letting me know how to pay for it, etc. I don't believe I needed any specific vaccines for New Zealand. I think I only had to have general vaccines that everyone should have.

* Safety:

Wellington (and New Zealand as a whole) is a generally safe country. Way less dangerous than others. With that being said...crime still happens and creepers still exist. One of my friends was followed home buy a guy one night and 2 other international students were followed home as well (seemingly by the same guy). Some of my friends also didn't feel comfortable walking around Wellington at night alone (as they shouldn't do anyways) because there are quite a few dark alleys, etc. I also had 2 incidents that made me feel uncomfortable due to my sexuality but they were very minor. One was when I was out on the town and a guy started calling me a "faggot". I don't know how he knew that I am gay but somehow he figured it out. I ignored him but of course I couldn't help but think about my safety the next day because Wellington is a very small city (you will often see the same people walking around on a weekend) and I was somewhat afraid that I would see that guy again somewhere. The other incident happened when I was walking around the city one night with a guy and a guy on the sidewalk in a more deserted area at that time of night was staring at us and said something just loud enough for us to hear that he said something but we couldn't make it out. It made me feel uncomfortable and a little worried for a bit but it quickly passed. These were just two random incidents that only bothered me a bit. Wellington is generally a very accepting city and has 2 gay bars and I never had anyone outright judge me for being queer.

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

I would definitely choose to go to Wellington, NZ again if I could do it over again. I decided before I left NZ that I am going to have to eventually go back. I actually hope that I will eventually be able to buy a small home in Wellington because I love it.


* 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)

I think I generally planned on spending around $150 a week. I was able to live on this. BUT traveling around New Zealand cost me a whole lot of money.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I generally planned on spending around $150 a week on food and whatnot in a normal week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Go to the farmers market on Sundays (before 1pm) to get really cheap vegetables and fruits. Otherwise - go to Countdown for general shopping. Countdown tends to be the overall cheapest grocery store in New Zealand (I think). Go to Snips for haircuts. They are the cheapest. Walk, instead of Uber, etc., as much as possible! Some of my friends would rather Uber back to our flats instead of walk. However, I would always walk and it saved a lot of money! And it actually got me in decent shape because Wellington is so hilly.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?
  • Great program leaders
  • Outlined everything and prepared us well
  • Very easy to talk to someone about something - they are very accessible
* What could be improved?
  • Honestly don't know...
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? In no particular order at all (other than when they came to mind...): That there is a night market for food every week, 2 days a week. I think it is on Thursdays and Fridays at one place Thursday and another on Fridays. It has pretty cheap food and is a fun way to get out about in the city with some friends and try some new food. There is a Trivia Night at a bar called Bad Grannies that is really fun and it was every Tuesday when I was there. We would always go with a group of friends. Every team wins some kind of prize and if you do well enough (not hard to do) you can get a decent prize - an food item from their menu, drinks, etc. However, their fries are the best prize, I swear. Data for your phone is pretty expensive. I was on a cheap plan and it cost me $8 NZD for 500MB of data - or half a GB. BUT, Wellington is awesome and it's downtown has free wifi called CBD Free. Honestly a lifesaver. I rarely ever used my NZ phone because there was wifi pretty much everywhere I went in the city and at uni and my flat. I did use my NZ phone as a hotspot for my US phone because I couldn't unlock it from my carrier to use as a NZ phone. (Arcadia helped us pick out phones though and walked us through all that the third day we were there.) Mama Browns has amazing milkshakes and so does Fidel's. Hunter Lounge on campus is a great place to study and a wonderful place to get a coffee or hot chocolate. Or even some food. Clothing style in NZ is pretty European and metro for guys. Everton Hall is the best housing option. I promise. There are glowworms that you can see in the Botans (the Wellington Botanical Gardens). You can see them in the creeks that run through there. Ask the help center at the gardens where to see them or go on a tour (it costs $5 but you have to book a few days in advance). The playground in the Botans is awesome and you should definitely go. Sober is fun but slightly intoxicated is also fun... Also going down the slides when they are wet is amazing and you go incredibly fast and will shoot out of them like a bullet and hit the ground. There is an amazing Steampunk Museum in Oamaru (Steampunk Headquarters) and you should definitely visit if you are in the area. They also have a Steampunk themed 'adult' playground that was really fun! They have a giant flying fox! (A zipline thing). World of Wearable Art. Check it out on YouTube. Volunteer for it if you are going to be in Wellington for your fall semester (NZ winter/spring time). It was amazing and if you volunteer you get to see the show for free with decent seats - which costs like $100 normally (or more). And I actually got to see it twice for free. And you get to go to an afterparty - which I thought was a lot of fun. And you get a free t-shirt and pin and program. Auckland isn't that fun or great of a city. Fun to visit for a day and that's about it. Sure it has the most people out of anywhere in New Zealand - but honestly Wellington is better. I swear. And after visiting all the major/majorish cities in New Zealand, Wellington is honestly the best option. Unless you want really rural - then go to the South Island. Food isn't really that much more expensive in NZ. I thought it was actually about the same and cheaper on some things. There are actually more sheep than people. And there is actually 10 times as many of them. You should jump into the harbour off of their 'diving board'. I jumped in on July 30th - so their winter - and it was freezing but an awesome experience. And I jumped in another 2 times. They also have a pop up sauna that is there part of the year in the winter that you can go to after you jump in so you don't get too cold - it costs $5 NZD though. New Zealand has central heating but the dorms you can live in and the houses (so Everton and Uni Hall) don't. So in Everton Hall we had space heaters in our individual rooms that worked well (at least in my case as I had the smallest room). This was just something that kinda made me go "what" when I first got there. I don't think anyone on our program had any problems with their flats being too cold but it's just something I wish I knew beforehand just to be aware of it. Check out Arcadia's student bloggers and their pages to find out more about Wellington (and New Zealand in general). Link here: http://studyabroad.arcadia.edu/blogs/student-bloggers/past-bloggers/ And some other Arcadia Program, New Zealand News here: http://studyabroad.arcadia.edu/blogs/arcadia-new-zealand-news/

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Maori Culture and Society

Course Department: Maori Studies
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I don't think that it was that academically challenging. The professor was very knowledgeable and knew all about Maori society and culture. She often brought in other professors/speakers that studied Maori language and society and pieces of their culture so that we could better understand the concept(s) at hand and hear things from an expert in that particular field rather than just from her. I did not participate much in the class as I knew nothing about Maori culture going into the class. Also because there were around 100 students in the class and therefore there wasn't really a big ability to participate. There wasn't really any homework that had to be done for the course. There was reading that was "required" to the extent that you needed to be able to have a small discussion about the concepts in tutorials. Other than that there were 3 essays that needed to be done that they very much talked you through (it is a first year level course). I think this course is VERY beneficial for international students to take as it taught me SO MUCH about Maori society and culture. It was great to learn about the native people of the country that I was studying in and about how their lives were before colonialism and how it has changed as a result, etc.
Credit Transfer Issues: This course doesn't transfer as a credit (besides a study abroad credit) to my home university.