New Zealand was the Time of My Life Past Review

By (Landscape Architecture Masters, Kansas State University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Wellington, New Zealand

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This is going to sound terrible, but I'm not sure I really gained much from this experience besides some awesome friends and five fabulous months. I have always wanted to travel, but I did realize that it isn't always about the activities you do when you travel. It is about what you see and who you're with that really counts. It has also made me realize that I want to join the study abroad mentor program at my home university to talk to people who are interested in studying abroad.

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.

The way they set up classes here is a bit different. Classes counting towards your major are typically less credit than the electives, and most classes have a tutorial that you're required to go.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The culture and adventure program that was held the first week in New Zealand was great. It was a fantastic way to make new friends and learn about the culture. However, after hearing about what some of the other programs were doing I wish they had set up some extra activities or trips throughout the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing situation was great besides the fact that it was on top of a huge hill that I had to climb up and down all of the time. I didn't have to buy any cookware or bedding. I also enjoyed having a Kiwi mate. This girl was put in our house to "guide" us, although we didn't really need her help much as we were all older students, and we didn't speak a different language. It was great having a kiwi around though just to be friends with. I do wish I would have had some flatmates besides my kiwi mate who were not American, although Americans do seem to be the ones who study abroad the most.

* Food:

There isn't anything super weird or exotic about the food in New Zealand. Much of it is quite the same. There just aren't nearly as many options. Don't eat the mac n' cheese. It is terrible. Have your parents send you some in a package. Definitely try the Tim Tam cookies. You'll become obsessed. Hit up the Sunday farmer's market. There is a ton of fresh produce, and it is way cheaper than buying it at the grocery store. Try some new produce that you've never tried before. I found out that I'm in love with kiwi fruit, and that my hate for peaches has subsided. Also, there's a pizza place up at the Kelburn Shops. On Monday nights, it is two for one pizzas. Don't be scared of the buffala cheese. It is amazing. There isn't a whole lot of fast food here, but you have got to try a kebab. I wasn't a huge fan at first, but once I tweaked it more to my liking I fell in love. If you get the chance to try homemade pavlova don't say no. You'll regret it later.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Culture and Adventure Program put on by Australearn was a really great way to meet people. We also got to do some things I'm not sure I would have done on my own like learning the haka or go caving at Waitomo.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Safety here is not an issue. New Zealand has a low crime rate, and I never felt scared walking home alone at night, whether it was through the city or in my neighborhood. The only safety thing I would warn anyone about would be the traffic. Drivers here don't pay much attention to pedestrians. The first week I was in Wellington my friends and I heard someone get hit by a car. Just be sure to watch where you're going, and remember to look right first then left. Healthcare was just fine. I only went to the health center once, and the doctor knew what I had, wrote me a prescription, and sent me to a chemist where I could get my prescription for free.

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 really have no idea, but all I know is that it was way too much.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I wasn't prepared for how expensive things would be. I was told it was more expensive here, but I didn't realize how much. It is really easy to spend $60 at the grocery store and not have bought much. Dining out is ridiculous, but it didn't stop my friends and I from doing it. However, restaurants hold a lot of specials on certain nights. Look around for those. Alcohol is ridiculous. Plan on spending $15 per drink. You might be lucky and find some for $8. You're obviously going to want to travel, but it isn't as cheap as you would like. You would think air fare would be cheap being a small country. It isn't. Do check out It is their way of filling up planes, and you can find some relatively cheap flights. If you're going to rent a car, do it with as many people as you can fit into a car so you can split the price because gas is crazy expensive. Look into hostels for places to stay or a campsite. Many of my friends camped on a lot of their trips or slept in their cars. I personally liked having a bed and a shower. Whenever you do something ask if there is a student price. Many places have them, and it is a great way to save money. Just make sure you have your student i.d. on you.


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?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Anyone considering New Zealand should stop thinking and just do it. It is the most amazing country. Australearn was great, but it sounds like some other programs were pretty awesome too. A few of them spent a week and a half in Fiji before arriving in New Zealand, and they were also scheduled to do some other trips throughout the semester, but you can always do those on your own with the people you want to go with. As for VUW, in comparison to my home university, it isn't the best education, but it is a fantastic study abroad experience. While school is the main reason to "study" abroad, there's more to it than that. You're going to want to do a million things, and VUW gives you that opportunity.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Practice and Management

Course Department: SARC 362
Instructor: Jacqueline McIntosh
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class has been changed quite a bit over the last few years. This was the first year that it included landscape and interior architects. I felt it was poorly organized, and I didn't learn much. I did learn things that were more related to architecture and building science, which were the two majors the class was originally made for. The semester long project was difficult to do as we had no idea what we were supposed to be doing.
Credit Transfer Issues: N/A