An Unforgettable Semester Past Review

By (Finance, University of Tulsa) - abroad from 07/08/2015 to 11/17/2015 with

The University of Auckland: Auckland - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how slow my life down and think about what is important to me, as well as gaining a newfound appreciation for the relationships I had with friends and family back home. I learned that it's really not that hard to live on your own in another country and I look forward to traveling a lot more.

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.

Comparatively, the courses were not any harder than what I would take at home. The difference was the way they were taught. I was not used to large lecture style classes, so that was difficult to adjust to, especially for upper level classes where I'm used to having close interactions with the professor and other students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Andrew Barron, the IES program director at Auckland Uni, was the most fantastic resource I had during my time in New Zealand. Whether I was lost, needed help planning trips, or a place to go out to eat, Andrew was always accessible and responded very quickly. He made my time in New Zealand very memorable. By the end of the semester, everyone in my IES group was calling him Dad!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The homestay was not what I expected. They had three young children and it was sometimes difficult getting sleep because the baby crying at night or the two other kids being loud in the morning. My host family also did not do anything with me or show me around the city, which is what I was hoping to get out of the experience most of all. Andrew, my program director, did help me try to find an apartment to move into, but it was too late into the semester for it to work out.

* Food:

Auckland has some of the most varied food options I have ever seen. Between all the China Towns and Indian restaurants, there is food from all over the world because Auckland is so diverse. Not only is it delicious to eat out, it's very inexpensive compared to what I'm used to in America.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Starting with the first weekend of our program when we went to Waiheke Island and lived on a Marae with the Maori community, I always felt very welcome in New Zealand. The people are some of the most friendly people I've met and they were highly appreciative that I wanted to learn about their country and culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

As a guy, I am not always very cautious. Having said that though, I have lived in parts of America when I know not to let my guard down. I never felt that way in New Zealand. It is a small country with little violence, and it's also not crowded. I was often out late on the weekends, riding the bus, or asking strangers for directions, and not once did I feel threatened or unsafe in any way.

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

IES blew me away with their quality of staff. They had many people constantly checking in on me to see how things were going and if they could help me with anything. They also provided excursions and trips which were the best parts of the program. We spent a week in Rarotonga during our mid-semester break, and all the activities IES planned for us there will be with me forever. I could never go back there and hope to have the same sort of immersed experience that IES gave me, so I'm very thankful for that.


* 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)

It was not hard living on a student's budget even being abroad. For the most part, I was able to keep my budget similar to what it is at home. New Zealand has smaller portions than America, so after awhile I got used to eating less and spending less on food. The biggest problem with sticking to your budget has to do with travel plans. Two or three weekends every month I would take trips with friends and we would need to rent cars, buy gas, etc., which can add up. Be sure to take more than enough money so you can experience everything you want to do without being held back. You're only going to be in your country for one semester so live it up!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $50
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Travel with others to split the cost of cars and gas. Don't spend unnecessarily like you're having a shopping spree. A few cheap souvenirs are enough to make your family happy. Ask locals where good, inexpensive places to eat are; buy groceries at Chinese markets or something similar rather than a more expensive chain. Search the internet for deals on trips you want to take or activities you want to do in the city. New Zealand has a website called "bookme" which is similar to groupon, and they always had cheap deals for all sorts of activities.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • Excursions
  • Andrew Barron
  • A lot of resources
* What could be improved?
  • Going to an All Blacks game
  • Easier to change housing assignments
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that having a host family wasn't going to be ideal for me. Living independently for 4 years in America and then staying with a family in New Zealand was harder than I thought it would be. I knew I would have to put in effort on my end, but I feel they did not put in effort on their end. I know everyone will have a different experience and not all host families are bad, but I know I would have enjoyed my time so much more if I lived in the student dorms with all my friends I made.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'