Since the beginning of my studies, I have been thinking about staying abroad for a longer period of time, but I hesitated to take this step from semester to semester until I realized that I could regret not having done it. I haven’t regretted the choice to spend a semester abroad in New Zealand for a second, which I was able to implement with the help of MicroEDU in the summer semester 2018.
Planning and organization
When the decision to do a semester abroad was made, the question arose of where to go. Initially, I decided on England because English is spoken there and I wanted to improve my English from time to time, but I felt it was too close to Germany for me personally, which is why I ultimately decided against it. That left only the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
I chose New Zealand. Firstly because it was (much) further away and secondly because the country is surrounded by impressive nature. I also chose the University of Auckland as it was the only university where the beginning of the semester does not overlap with the semester at my home university. However, this only applies to the summer semester (Semester One), which normally begins at the end of February or the beginning of March. The winter semester (semester two) starts at the UoA in July. However, it was unclear whether I was even allowed to go abroad that long because I do not have German citizenship, which is why I first checked with the immigration authorities, which fortunately gave me the green light.
About six months before I started my trip, I filled out all the required documents, if necessary, and then submitted them to answerresume, which were then forwarded to the university of my choice. From then on it was just a matter of waiting. With a few small complications in between (letters of recommendation, language certificate), I was finally accepted at the UoA. In the following I took care of the transfer of the tuition fees and the procurement of a student visa. I can only advise you to get a credit card early if you don’t already have one, as the visa fee can only be paid by credit card and I can pay with Transferwise. International money transfer provider had problems with the direct debit method. It is also worth mentioning (if that concerns you too) that I had to submit my passport when applying for a visa to London, since, as already mentioned above, I do not have German or EU citizenship, otherwise a passport scan would have been sufficient . Nevertheless, I got my visa and nothing stood in the way of my semester abroad.
Living and living in Auckland
Initially, I opted for private accommodation and decided against a dormitory as I’ve heard from some that it’s cheaper. I had arrived in New Zealand exactly one day before the start of the semester and had initially stayed in a hostel for a week. During this time I was looking for affordable rooms near the university. Unfortunately, since I couldn’t find anything suitable for me, I registered with Accommodation Solutions at the UoA, who were able to give me a room. It was the last room because an applicant dropped out and I had applied for a dorm room before New Zealand if necessary. In retrospect, I was very happy that I had been accommodated in the dormitory, because there I got to know different people whom I can now call my friends. There were mostly international students there, who have also been there for a semester abroad. Small events or cooking together was organized. Every Friday people would gather in the common room and either watch a movie or just do something.
The student residence is located in Grafton with a family-friendly environment, which is 20 minutes from the UoA city campus and 30 minutes from the city on foot. Unlike in Germany, the rent is paid 14 times (normally even weekly) instead of monthly.
For Auckland’s population of over a million, it didn’t feel like it. Queenstreet was, so to speak, the main street that represented city life, with the harbor near where you can easily take the ferry across various islands such as Devonport, Rangitoto Island or Waiheke Island and spend your weekends there. Public transport in Auckland is rather poor compared to that in Germany. I had to rely on the AT Mobile App when I drove the bus. It showed me where I was because there was no announcement on the bus. I preferred to take the train, which unfortunately was not as networked as the buses.
Course content and university
Since I studied economics at my university with a bachelor’s degree and specialized in finance for my master’s degree, I took two courses in finance and one in economics at the UoA. The courses I attended there are quite well attended with around 200 to 300 students, but are more application-oriented than the courses I take in Germany.
Here I also notice that the focus is on understanding and not memorizing. Unlike at my home university, I also had to complete two assignments for each enrolled course, which were very time-consuming. However, this consolidates the knowledge and does not immediately forget it. The lecturers at the university were very friendly and always listened to complications with the subject matter.
Nevertheless, I found the organization of the university to be inadequate, which I especially felt during the mid-term exams. It happened that an examination was postponed because not enough examination sheets were printed and I was allowed to expect two exams in one day or the exams with about 300 students took place in a small lecture room and there was only enough space for the examination sheets. while calculators and pens were on her lap.
The UoA city campus made a positive impression. The lecture rooms are nicely padded and the computer rooms worked very well and are modernly equipped. I particularly liked the OGGB, which is intended for students from the business sector. In the first two weeks of the semester, you could enroll in sports or culture courses. I signed up for canoeing, which allows you to meet new people and learn a new sport.
The cost of living in New Zealand is much higher than in Germany. Especially when it comes to living. So you pay around 600 euros a month for a 10sqm room. But the tuition fees were also very high, especially for international students, which in some cases do not reflect the quality of the university (see university and course content).
I was only able to finance myself through foreign student loans and my savings. The best thing to do is to take care of a scholarship as an additional source of funding. I would recommend that you save the money, especially for the days within the mid-term break and until the end of the semester, because you want to experience New Zealand outside of Auckland.
All in all, the semester abroad was an unforgettable time for me. I made a lot of new friends there from all over the world and was able to develop personally. On the one hand because of the remoteness of the country, on the other hand because of a different culture and thus a different atmosphere. If you decide to do a semester abroad, don’t hesitate and just do it, you won’t regret it.