Well I've been back in the United States for almost six months now. It was hard to leave New Zealand and get reacquainted with my old lifestyle in Nebraska. I don't think there is a day that goes by that I don't think about my New Zealand adventures and friends. Studying abroad was one of the most magnificent experiences I've ever had and I recommend that every college student should consider studying abroad. Studying abroad gave me a lot of perspective and confidence to know I can conquer any challenge put in front of me. I transformed into a Kiwi while I was gone. I learned to love the laid back lifestyle and appreciate the small things. Since I've been home I have been a lot more relaxed and less stressed out.
I hope my experience will inspire readers to study abroad. I plan to post a series of blogs to help students find ways to study abroad.
Today my blog will focus on choosing a New Zealand school. No matter which school a student chooses to study at, the teaching style will be significantly different from the U.S. Classes are very independent and homework is rarely assigned (unless a student is studying math and science based courses.) Libraries have gone out of style in the U.S. but not in NZ. I frequently went to the library to read assigned readings for my courses. All of my classes had term papers and a final writing exam. The term papers were graded by marks. Professor grade papers by going through the paper and placing check marks or checks with a plus next to the things you wrote well in your paper. The number of checks determines your grade.
The University of Canterbury
I attended UC which is a great school. It is located in Christchurch also known as the "Garden City". Christchurch is the largest city on the south island. I really enjoyed the amazing transportation system in this city. Without a car, I was able to get anywhere I wanted to go in Christchurch and all over the South Island for a reasonable price. Canti had a good reputation and student life programs. Canti was rated in 2008 as one of the top 200 schools in the world.
As a undergraduate journalism student I was frustrated with Canti because there is not a journalism degree offered to students at the undergraduate level. I took a COMM class which is the equivalent to a journalism degree. Majority of JOUR students attend UC for graduate school only because it has a decent journalism program.
Regardless, I really enjoyed Canti. The campus is beautiful and I liked the classes I took.
More info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/university_of_canterbury/
Lincoln is located right outside of Christchurch in a more country setting. I don't think I would have enjoyed Lincoln because I'm not the type to like small schools. But if you're into small schools this might be the pick for you.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/lincoln_university/
I don't know much about Massey so you're on your own.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/massey_university/
Otago (pronounced O-tog-o)University
Otago is located in Dunedin on the southeast coast of the south island. Duedin is known for its large hills. The largest hill in the world, Baldwin St., is located in Dunedin. The nickname for Dunedin is Dunners. Be sure to drive up it (or walk if you are daring.) What I thought was the most impressive about Otago was the architecture and updated facilities.
Dunedin/Otago has a reputation for being a party city and school. Canterbury students go down to Dunedin if they are looking for a fun weekend. Students are rowdy and have street parties frequently. The parties are fun but the disrespect students have for houses they rent is not impressive.
I'm sure Dunedin is a great school. From what I saw of it, I really liked it, minus the street riots where students burnt couches in the middle of the street.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/university_of_otago/
University of Auckland
If you want to be where the majority of people live in NZ, Auckland is probably the right choice for you. Auckland is the largest city (1.3 million) and has one of the largest university (34,000).
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/university_of_auckland/
Victoria University of Wellington
I love Wellington. It is filled with businessmen, government and politics. Wellington is the capital of NZ. But if you chose to live here you better get used to the daily gusts of wind that nearly blow you over. It's nicknamed Windy Wellington. I don't know much about the universities in Wellington. I do know they are located downtown. The uni buildings are spread out across Wellington, which didn't impress me much.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/victoria_university_of_wellington/
The University of Waikato
I'd highly recommend Waikato. I didn't see the university but it was my second choice. It's located in the middle of the north island, close to the Bay of Plenty, white sand beaches and amazing surfing. I had a friend that attended and she really liked it.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/university_of_waikato/
AUT is New Zealand's most contemporary university. It was recently transformed from a community college to a university in 2000, so it's still trying to get its feet off the ground. AUT is located in Auckland. Class sizes are bit smaller than the University of Auckland. There are 16,822 full-time students and 23,715 all together.
more info: http://www.australearn.org/universities/aut_university/