New Zealand: Amazing and Just What I Was Looking For Past Review

By (History/Women's and Gender Studies, Dickinson College) for

ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, it definitely was worthwhile. Personally, I grew a lot, and I was able to get out of the experience what I wanted to. It didn't particularly change my academic interests, but it broadened my awareness of indigenous rights and issues with the state, which allowed me to look a bit more closely at the policies and history in the US.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I felt the workload was easier than my home university, but I felt that my home university was very challenging. I was also taking lower level classes abroad in general. The higher level class I took was very engaging and just the right amount of work. Since VUW was a large school, and my home university was tiny, I had to get used to the large lecture halls and fewer interactions with the teaching professors. However, I was able to have a relationship, as needed, with my tutorial teacher, which helped when I had issues.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I didn't interact with my program much when I was in country following the orientation. There were some issues with housing not being ready for us, but if I remember correctly, our program figured it all out and may have even paid for our few last days at the hostel since we needed to stay a few extra days. I knew there was an emergency number to call if I needed help, and I could call the office for the program if I needed it, but I didn't end up asking for any help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was acceptable, but not great. I lived in on-campus apartments that were furnished for international students. It was an okay apartment, though a bit dilapidated. It was in a good area, and I didn't have any major concerns about safety. It was just a short walk to the main campus and bus routes, and it was not far from walking paths down to the city. I bought sheets, blankets, and a pillow, but cookware and furniture were included. I had horrible roommates, mostly because of communication and the inability to work together to keep the house clean and quiet. We all apparently had different ideas of what clean meant. Five of us were living in the house with one bathroom, and that was more difficult that I assumed it would be. It was an acceptable living arrangement, but not great. I had my own room with a lock, so I could lock my door when I left the house and at night.

* Food:

The reason I picked the apartment was because it was suggested by my program that it would be best to cook for myself than live in a dorm and have to eat what was provided with my dietary restrictions. I found it easy to buy what I needed at the various food stores. For the orientation, there was not enough protein options for vegetarians, but I made do, and was glad to be able to buy my own food when I arrived in Wellington. There were tons of great inexpensive places to eat downtown and on campus, and while I often made my lunch, my friends and I frequently explored and tried new restaurants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We had a great orientation in Rotorua and had the opportunity to go blackwater caving and either a ride on a luge or Zorbing. I highly recommend the Zorbing! We also saw a traditional Maori performance and ate at a hangi during orientation, both of which were great. I don't remember much else at the moment about orientation, but later in the program, my friends and I explored the country on our own and did more social and cultural experiences.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I'm not sure how much health and safety were discussed. When I got the flu and needed antibiotics, I went to a pharmacist who told me to go to a walk in clinic. I got the prescription I needed in no time, and the cost of it was reimbursed (though it took a while to get the check). It was mostly easy, and the bank was really helpful since I hadn't opened a bank account. I didn't receive any support from my program, but I didn't ask for any. No vaccines are needed in New Zealand, and there were not major health issues.

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)


If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? People who don't need a lot of in country support, who want a great experience, are interested in learning about this small country, and are willing to be adventurous will love this program.