Kia Ora! My semester abroad in New Zealand was sweet as!
- What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB?
I took two classes for my majors (Mathematical Logic & Statistical Programming and Modeling with SAS), and two GEs (Te Ao Māori: The Māori World & New Zealand Literature). Compared to UCSB, my classes at the University of Auckland had fewer homework assignments, but the exams were weighted very heavily. The pace was definitely a lot slower because it is a 12 week semester with a 2 week break in the middle. I think the classes were less rigorous than at UCSB, but you have to be self-motivated to study on your own because there are not that many assignments.
- What was your favorite class abroad?
My favorite class was Te Ao Māori: The Māori World. It was an introductory course to the Maori culture (Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand). We had many guest speakers who shared their personal experiences on a variety of social issues and disparities that Maori face today.
- Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience.
- How would you describe your host institution?
University of Auckland is physically smaller than UCSB, but it has more students packed into a just a couple of city blocks. There are no curved grades at UoA, and professors actually want everyone in the class to get an A. Students also call their professors by their first name, so the classroom had a very relaxed and casual atmosphere.
- Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join?
There are plenty of clubs/organizations to join at University of Auckland. They have a clubs expo at the beginning of every semester, and they are always looking for more people to join. I joined the Lacrosse Club (AULAX) and a UNIM8S basketball team, which is their version of intramural sports. I also joined SASS (Study Abroad Student Society), where Kiwi (local New Zealand) students lead exchange students on excursions around New Zealand. It’s a great way to meet students from all over the world and also get to travel with new friends!
- Describe your housing situation.
I lived in one of the on campus apartments called UniLodge-Whitaker. It was a fully-furnished studio apartment, and it even came with basic kitchen supplies. The majority of students living in my building were international students or other study abroad students.
- Where did you eat most of your meals?
I cooked the majority of my meals in my apartment, but I did try to go to a new restaurant every week.
- How much was an average meal? Do you have any budgeting tips for future students?
An average meal at a restaurant was $10-$15 NZD. At UoA, each food vendor has a special called a “Budgie Meal”, which were all $6.50, so it was pretty cheap to eat lunch on campus.
- Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals?
Not at all, the majority of places I went to had vegetarian and vegan options. The foods at the grocery store weren’t that different than in the US, so it should be easy to cook similarly to how you do at home.
- Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad.
I had the opportunity to eat a Hangi Dinner with a Maori family. Hangi is a traditional Maori cooking method where all the food is cooked underground surrounded by hot stones. There was a ton of meat, vegetables, kumara (sweet potato), and fry bread.
- What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back?
I really miss cheese crackers called Cheddar Shapes and Ferg’s Famous Boston Cream Donut from Fergbaker in Queenstown.
- Describe your host city.
Auckland is actually quite large – it’s made up of large suburban areas and the city center called Auckland central, where I spent most of my time. There is a wharf on the north side, where you can take ferries to surrounding islands, and there’s also a few parks scattered around the city.
- Was it easy to get around?
Yes, the public transportation in Auckland is amazing! You get a student (“tertiary”) discount on your bus pass, which is called the AT Hop Card. I never waited more than 5 minutes for a bus. Uber is also prevalent in Auckland, and it was a lot cheaper than in the US. As for traveling within New Zealand, there are a lot of affordable bus systems such as InterCity, and there are a lot of “hop on, hop off” tourist buses as well.
- Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students?
I felt extremely safe in Auckland, and in New Zealand in general. I would suggest traveling in groups at night, especially around the parks, but otherwise Auckland is a safe place.
- What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city?
Every Friday night there was a night market with a bunch of different food vendors, so I got to try new foods every week. I also took the ferry to explore the nearby islands on the weekends.
- Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad.
New Zealanders are much more laid back than Americans. People do not stress over work or school nearly as much as people do in the US, and it never seemed like anyone was ever in a rush.
- How did you handle culture shock?
New Zealand is not drastically different from the US, so I did not experience that much culture shock. The only thing that was initially difficult to adjust was walking on the left side of the road. I always got confused which way the cars were coming, so I had to be a lot more cautious when crossing the street.
- What is your favorite aspect of your host culture?
I love that New Zealand culture is extremely warm and welcoming. It was incredibly easy to start a conversation with a complete stranger without it being weird. Everyone was really nice, and they were always willing to help each other out.
- Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad.
My very first excursion while in New Zealand was to Cathedral Cove in Coromandel. Since it was winter time, my friends and I practically had the entire beach to ourselves. We kayaked in the clearest ocean water I’ve ever seen, and the beach was so spotless it was surreal.
- What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal?
I was afraid that it would be difficult to make friends abroad, but it was actually really easy because everyone in New Zealand is super friendly.
- What was your biggest challenge abroad?
My biggest challenge was adjusting to the semester system. The semester was really spread out (17 weeks from the first day of class to the last exam), so I had to study more than I usually do on quarter system at UCSB.
- How have you changed as a result of your time abroad?
Since studying abroad, I am more confident in traveling alone and am more comfortable asking strangers for help.
- What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students?
Engage with as many people as you can! I learned so much about New Zealand culture, other countries, and even America by talking to people from all over the world.