Worth it, but I wish I had found gear to go camping. Past Review

By (Graphic Design & Interactive Media, University of Wisconsin - Stout) - abroad from 02/02/2012 to 07/02/2012 with

Universal College of Learning / UCOL Whanganui Campus: Whanganui School of Design Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I definitely learned how to have a good attitude. "It is what you make of it." One of the Americans that went was really disappointed upon arriving. I think he made himself have a bad time by not wanting to meet new people or adjust to a different way of living. I think any situation can be turned around if you don't have so high expectations but have a good attitude. I also learned a lot about design and what it means to me and how I can get get better. I attended some really great conferences...Semi-Permanent and agIdeas...check them out! I really loved the lifestyle there. I miss it a lot. I miss my fronds.

Review Photos

Universal College of Learning / UCOL Whanganui Campus: Whanganui School of Design Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universal College of Learning / UCOL Whanganui Campus: Whanganui School of Design Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo Universal College of Learning / UCOL Whanganui Campus: Whanganui School of Design Direct Enrollment & Exchange Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Resources were excellent. Academic-wise, it was very laid back. This was good because I had to learn to use my own time wisely. But sometimes I wish I was pushed harder.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was absolutely terrible. It was impossible to get ahold of the administration when I needed them. Often I sent emails and left voicemails and I still had to wait days for a response. They originally enrolled in the wrong courses and it took them over a month to notice. Class ended 4 weeks ago and I still have no idea what my grades are. They had no regard for the time constraints of international students. I was not able to get my art projects returned to me before I flew home. They said they'll mail it...but I imagine that will take months. I just hope I get the information I need to transfer the classes and be eligable to register for next semester's classes.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was decent. The landlord was wonderful! Everytime we had a problem she fixed it right away! The place could have been cleaner though. When I first arrived to the flat there were dirty dishes in the sink, spider webs everywhere, and it really needed to be vaccuumed.

* Food:

The food in NZ is very similar to the US so it isn't hard to adjust. There are a lot more asian cuisine restaurants, though, which I found tasted much better and fresher than American-Asian restaurants. Be sure to have fish n' chips, sushi, tim tams, and pavlova while you're there!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My main integration with the locals was having class with them. I also met many international students from Malaysia, India, Japan, and China. I felt that I learned a lot about other countries, not just about NZ. I think I received a very well-rounded cultural experience. I only wish I had learned more about the indigenous peoples of NZ...unfortunately I missed out on a lot of their traditional events.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Fortunately I didn't have any health problems while abroad. The school does have a nurse, there are many pharmacies located on the main street, and UW-Stout had insurance covering me...so I was never concerned about getting sick or injured. I did have a cold, briefly, and just used the cold medicine I had brought from home.

* Safety:

Personally, I felt very safe. There were a few late nights when I was walking home after working at school and I felt fine. Yes, I was cautious, but I never had a problem. Sometimes I'd try to walk home with a buddy. I guess there is a gang in Wanganui but I'd never seen or encountered them.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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 hard at first. Everything is more expensive in NZ. I felt like I was at the grocery store two times a week. After awhile I learned how to get good deals and spend less...but at first it was quite a shock. It's very hard to live cheaply there.

* Was housing included in your program cost? No
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $120/week for rent....probably $70/week on food...plus personal spending...easily over $200 NZD on some weeks.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Use fly-bys! Every super market asks "do you have fly bys" and I'd say no. But by the 5th month I thought, "hmmm...I really should have signed up for those fly-bys since I spend at least $50.00 every time I go to the store." Also...book buses (naked bus and intercity bus) in advance and try to get them for $1! Use the 2Degrees cell phone pay-as-you-go plan...seems to be the cheapest, especially for calling home to the US. Consider doing homestay if you're more interested in learning about what the locals do, and it will probably cost less than renting a flat. Also, your new parents will probably have a car and they can help you run errands! (sucks walking everywhere)


* 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? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International 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?
  • My classmates.
  • My tutors.
  • The laid back atmosphere of NZ.
* What could be improved?
  • The school's administration and their regard to students' needs.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How expensive NZ is. How small Wanganui is (for some reason I thought it would be bigger???) And descriptions of the classes...that would have been nice.