New Zealand: where you'll grow and learn in and out of school while having the time of your life! Past Review

By (Graphic Design., University of Wisconsin - Stout) for

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?
DEFINITELY WORTHWHILE. Studying abroad was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned so much in and out of school. As far as graphic design, I really got into illustration while I was there and I think that could be my niche! In NZ, I got to explore and I grew so much as a person. i definitely want to travel there again someday. I highly recommend studying abroad anywhere because you learn tremendous amounts and have such an incredible experience. I literally turned my world upside down and I’m so grateful that i’ve had this opportunity to be an exchange student. I’ve met some of the best people in the world that will be my companions for life. If you ever get the chance, travel to NZ as it is an amazing country with great things to see and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Studying abroad made me way more culturally aware. As far as future plans, I realized that I really want to live by the sea and live in a city that doesn't get snow. I'm definitely coming back to New Zealand as soon as I can. I miss it already.

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.

The main difference between Wanganui school of design and Stout would be deadlines. WSD deadlines are more loose and later on than a deadline at Stout would be for the same project. Since you're enrolled in 4 art/design classes instead of your usual 2 or maybe 3, this is beneficial because otherwise it'd be far too stressful. The laid-back attitude of WSD is really nice because the teachers want you to do your best and will give you extra time if they see you're working super hard to achieve above-average results. If you're the kind of student who isn't self-motivated, though, because of the loosely-structured schedule, you'll probably leave class early all the time cause you can, and you'll probably also wait til the last minute and wont make as great of work, so maybe this isn't the place for you. For me, I'd say this was the perfect, comfortable amount of work--satisfyingly challenging, but with much creative freedom, and much time to be creative. I loved that I never had to rush through anything to meet a deadline. An unfortunate drawback of the laid-back system, though, is that you wont get your grades back until the last possible minute (which for me, was a couple hours before I had to board an international flight back home!). All in all, though the teachers there were so nice and helpful and the facilities were top-notch and I had a wonderful experience in which I learned tremendously in and out of school. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The staff at WSD was extremely helpful and nice. The only drawback was at the beginning when they wouldn't let me pick certain classes that were "outside the graphic design program" but after I notified people at Stout about this, the WSD staff reread the license agreement with Stout and let us take the classes we needed.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Student housing at WSD is nicely set up, accommodating you with a bed, dresser, desk, your own room, and a kitchen with pots and pans and everything, and a laundry machine. It has relatively pleasing aesthetics. It is located far away from class, but close to the grocery store. I had to purchase sheets and a duvet. Unfortunately student housing is expensive and living much closer to the school in a flat with someone is about half the price, so that's what I ended up doing. The main reason I moved, though is that I lived with other international students from India and Malaysia who didn't speak much english, cooked loudly at night and never washed their own dishes (because they're used to having maids/servants in their countries). I tried talking to them about the noise and the messy kitchen, but they didn't understand me and became too difficult to live with because of these reasons, so I moved.

* Food:

Healthy eating is cheaper in NZ than it is in the US due to lower fruit prices cause barely anything is imported. The food was tasty. There are plenty of options at any of the grocery stores-- Pak-n-Save, New World, and Countdown. The takeaways are quite tasty and I recommend George's Fisheries for the best fish'n'chips of your whole life.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The program really doesn't arrange any trips for you, so do it yourself. As far as Wanganui goes, be sure to get someone to drive you to Kai Iwi beach. It's such a beautiful beach. When it comes to visiting other cities, book weekend trips as much as you can! Use the bus systems to get around (nakedbus and intercity bus) if you don't have a friend with a car. You can get cheap bus tickets to other cities. DEFINITELY go to the south island over break because it's so beautiful and amazing. Definitely go down to Wellington, the capital city, for a weekend. They have a great museum, fun beaches, and amazing nightlife. Go do touristy things up in Lake Taupo and Rotorua, like bungy jump (if you want) and zorb! I've had the time of my life in New Zealand and made friends of a lifetime.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never had to utilize the healthcare system there cause I never had more than a common cold, but it seemed accessible. As far as safety, nobody told me ahead of time that Wanganui has a reputation for having gangs and crime moreso than any other city in New Zealand. As a woman, you should never go anywhere alone when it starts getting dark. As long as you stay in the good areas of town, though, you should be fine.

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? Groceries-around 30-40 dollars a week. Once in a while I had to buy art supplies like paper or pay for things to be printed, so $10-30 for that.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Internet is not in the student flats unless you pay for it, which is VERY expensive. Go to the public library and use it for free! Also, WSD limits your internet use, so keep the youtubes to a minimum or your monthly bandwidth limit will be used right away.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

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
  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Go with the flow, but at the same time, look out for yourself and make sure you are getting the help from faculty that you need when problems come up. A laid-back, but self-motivated student who can push themselves is best for this program.