By Emma Colson, University of Auckland, New Zealand
As I write this, I am back in the UK and I’ve started my final year at UoM. Everyone says how quick the time goes, which I was sceptical about as six months away from my family and friends felt really daunting, but I felt like I blinked and I was back in Manchester, about to start third year. As is probably no surprise, I had the time of my life. I genuinely had a better experience than I ever thought possible, in that I met some amazing friends who I know I will have for life, and I fell in love with a country I had little to no knowledge about. I hope this post can reassure anyone who is feeling anxious about going abroad, and maybe even steer some people toward choosing New Zealand.
I found that the university teaching styles were quite different to that of UoM. I do English Language and English Literature, and one of my classes was a comparative literature one. In this class, some of my assignments were op-ed’s, meaning I used my opinion and first person pronouns to express my own views on the theories and texts within the class. This is just an example of how I would say UoA is more relaxed in its teaching style and assessment format than UoM. Having said that, the content was not easier per se; I still felt the material was as challenging as it is at Manchester. This is also in regards to an arts degree, so I cannot speak to other schools.
There was a lot of support offered by UoA, which I found especially comforting when I first arrived. There was an introductory day for study abroad students specifically, which involved a cultural performance as well as a briefing on a range of topics including general information about the university and emergency contact information for New Zealand. It was really comforting to know how many other students were in the same boat as me. The fair at the beginning of the semester was really fun with a band and a societies fair; there are so many activities to try over there we wouldn’t get the chance to here such as the underwater club, which had excursions to beaches and islands. One club also worth mentioning is SASS (Study Abroad Students Society), which, as the name suggests, is a student-run club purely for students like us. They plan events and trips to see the country, such as a skiing trip at the end of the semester – this year they went to Mount Ruapehu. I thought this was a great option for people who wanted to ski but didn’t want to go alone. Luckily I made some friends who also wanted to go, but otherwise I definitely would’ve made use of that club!
My accommodation, Carlaw Park, was also organised such that all study abroad students are on one floor. All my flatmates were there for the semester, which I liked as I was immediately surrounded by people I could relate to, being away from home, and who would want to make the most of their time. I’m still extremely close to two of them, and I have plans to see them next year as they live in California. I still found it really easy to meet people from New Zealand in my classes, so I didn’t feel like my accommodation being organised this way prevented me from doing that in any way.
Whilst it is far away, studying in New Zealand places you close to both Australia and Fiji; I managed to visit Fiji for two weeks after the semester finished which was unreal and an amazing way to finish off my time. I felt that it made the most of being over there as there may not be another opportunity as convenient as that to visit somewhere like Fiji. I knew some people who went to Bali and Australia after exams. Since you’d have to make your way back anyway, it is a great opportunity to stop over and visit somewhere else.
If you want to study in a stunning country which is incredibly welcoming and has an amazing university, definitely consider New Zealand. It might be far away, but it’s definitely worth the trip. If I could experience my time there all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Considering it wasn’t my top choice, I’m so glad I got to go to Auckland. Until next time, NZ.