Insights into Student Life in New Zealand

By Emma Colson, University of Auckland, New Zealand  

For me, one of the hardest parts of the application to study abroad was choosing the 10 countries/ universities to put down and even harder, to choose a top 3. The University of Auckland was my third choice, but having been here for over 3 months, I couldn’t be happier that I was allocated here. Having said that, before coming, I had little to no knowledge about the university or the country, so for those interested in what New Zealand has to offer I hope my experience will help you.

As far as I know, I am one of the first group of students to study abroad in New Zealand since the pandemic, due to covid restrictions preventing students from coming over. I read articles online or youtube videos on studying here to try and get a picture in my head of what it would be like. 

One thing that came up over and over is how stunning New Zealand is – and it truly is. Auckland itself has amazing beaches, especially on North Shore, which I visited a lot when I first arrived in February towards the end of summer here, and islands a short ferry ride away. Also, New Zealand is an ideal place for a road trip – I’ve been on one down the east coast of North Island for 10 days and I’m planning to road trip the South Island after the semester is finished, as it’s winter here. If road tripping is something you’d like to integrate into your period abroad, New Zealand is a great location to consider.

If you have an interest in geography or would consider yourself an outdoorsy person, i.e. you like to go for hikes, New Zealand has a lot to offer. There are countless hikes, such as the Te Waihou Walkway, and also geothermal areas such as Rotorua, which has volcanic valleys nearby and geysers. I also visited the Waitomo glowworm caves over the weekend which was magical and the tour was very informative. Places you’d like to visit are worth adding to the personal statement section of the application!

I also feel that I have to mention the weather – in 6 months of being here, I will have experienced the end of summer (which is basically the peak of British summer) to the peak of winter – so much so there will be snow in the South Island. Not to mention it is meant to be autumn now but it feels like spring! I know everyone says it, but the weather really is unpredictable. Yes, the sun is hot and it can switch from sun to rain in all of 10 seconds (as I quickly found out) but it can get a bit extreme at times – I’ve now experienced flooding and a cyclone! However, I felt completely safe at the time and the university was great at spreading emergency communications and supporting us, so don’t let it put you off!

Some other points things I feel are useful to know – 

UK driving licenses aren’t accepted as valid ID! Unless you apply for a kiwi access card (evidence of age or ID) or a New Zealand driving license, you have to use your passport as a form of ID. As study abroad students, this is so nerve-wracking as your passport is the last thing you want to be taking everywhere with you. I personally didn’t apply for an access card, but if I could go back and apply for one I would as it’s definitely the safer option. I would keep this in mind and add it to a to do list if you’re allocated here.

Also, the University of Auckland accommodates electives/ non-compulsory classes, so much so that they encourage you to fill up your course points with classes outside of your degree. Whilst this works here, it clashes with the way our home university works, as I was told I need to stick to my degree as much as possible. I do English Literature and English Language, which made it even harder as a lot of the classes for each subject clashed. Whilst you can apply for concessions to overcome clashes, this is only possible if there is an overlap of only one hour per week. I do one linguistics class and one literature class, and the other two are communications and comparative literature so they are slightly outside of the scope of my degree. I was able to talk to my advisers about this, as it is very degree dependent, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you need to strictly stick to your subject. 

I can’t recommend applying to study here in Auckland more, so I hope this helps with your idea of what it would be like here!

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