The idea of doing a semester abroad came to me relatively spontaneously, so I had no idea where to go and was then very grateful that I had the MicroEDU office in my city. The support was really great, I was able to clarify all questions and then I felt a lot safer because it was far away from home for me for the first time.
So I’ll go halfway around the world to New Zealand, unfortunately a little too late due to the exam phase at my own university, so I missed almost the entire introductory week. But it wasn’t too bad, I got all the information I needed in the first week of UC.
The campus is very spacious, the center is the large library with lots of work areas. Unfortunately, there were always bottlenecks in borrowing books, so you are almost forced to buy the very expensive books. According to ehuacom, the UC is very well equipped, because I first noticed the huge number of Apple computers, there is also 24-hour access with your student card, which is very practical because the library does not have long opening times. The university apartments are only a few minutes’ walk away from the university, and supermarkets are also within walking distance. I also noticed the security service on campus, but they are all very nice and relaxed.
I took the courses Science and Entrepreneurship Part I, Marketing Research, Macroeconomics and Financial Markets, Institutions and Instruments, mainly to have them credited to me in Germany. There was usually a manageable number of students in the lectures, at least for me, since I am used to up to 1000 students in a lecture hall. So overall it was a good atmosphere, in which the students could ask questions during the lecture and the professor encouraged discussions and participation. All lecturers were interested in the fact that the material was conveyed in an understandable way and also took time for the students after the lecture. In general, I really liked the structure of the university, it is designed to be more practical and really aims at learning success. There is a short exam phase in the middle of the semester, where small tests are usually written in many courses, which I think up to 25% are counted towards the final grade. But tests are also offered online in some courses over the entire semester, all of which are added to the final grade. Apart from that, written homework is also very popular. In my Science and Entrepreneurship course, the entire final grade was compiled from homework, so I had to write a lot of reports throughout the semester, which I was not used to from Germany. Since my English was never very good, I had some problems with writing in English,Grades brought in, so it was very good training for me in terms of English.
Overall, I had my course selection a lot more work for the study than in Germany, so in turn, but you learn more and that is also definitely the goal of the study structure.
The University of Canterbury has a very large proportion of international students, I noticed especially in the University of Canterbury apartments, I lived in Ilam, which I thought was a beautiful complex. It is divided into shared apartments, I think 4 to 6 people per apartment and the flat is even cleaned irregularly. The student life was really amazing, you got to know so many nice people from all over the world. There was always something going on, whether it was an organized party, a barbecue at the university or a house party in the apartments. The university also has its own student bar, where most of the parties take place, but I think everything closes too early in New Zealand, after 1 a. m. everything is definitely dead at the university.
Christchurch itself also shows the earthquake quite strongly, it should have been a pulsating city before, probably the most beautiful in New Zealand, but unfortunately you don’t notice that much of it anymore. The city center has been destroyed and the work is progressing very slowly, I think, but Christchurch has not lost its charm. Especially when you are at the University of Canterbury, which is a bit out of the way, there is a small center of its own, and there was always something going on with us students anyway, so it was very nice that the campus was so together.
Now to the costs, which are not really insignificant. 12,000 NZD is pretty steep even if the support is good, but I’m very happy that I got a scholarship through MicroEDU , which waived 5,000 NZD tuition fees, so the full tuition fees were borne by the BAföG office. Furthermore, the rental costs are extremely high, around 5000 NZD for a semester in the University of Canterbury residential complexes, about double what I would pay in Germany for such a room. You can of course find accommodation yourself, that is usually 100 NZD or more less a month in rent and the advantage would be that you get to know more Kiwis. At first, everything in the supermarket seemed more expensive to me, but this is partly due to the fact that the pack sizes are a lot larger and, on the other hand, it is simply more expensive. You definitely have to plan more, I can’t give an example now, everyone has to see it individually. However, you can sometimes buy clothes cheaply, for example, I’ve gone on shopping trips where I spent less money than in the supermarket if you don’t pay attention to brands. The semester was certainly not particularly cheap, but student loans helped me a lot, you should definitely try, even if you might not get a normal student loan.
To be honest, I went to New Zealand to study, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Once I had discovered what the country has to offer, most of the time I was traveling, experiencing nature and people.
First of all, it was the best time of my life that I spent here, the country fascinated me so much that I can’t wait to come back.
I wanted to see as much as possible in the short time I had, so I figured it might make sense to book a bus tour. Then I bought a ticket at KIWIexpierence, which is a very popular company in NZ, but in the end I wasn’t that enthusiastic because you can really only see touristy NZ and travel the whole time with backpackers who, strangely, don’t really meet each other interested in the country, or so it seemed to me. At the beginning, however, I also used the bus ticket for my trip to the North Island, the 3 weeks Easter vacation were perfect, most other universities did not have such a long break in between.
A few highlights in short version
- Starting with seal swimming in the beautiful village of Kaikoura, definitely to the waterfall with the baby seals, because I got the tip too late
- On to the beautiful capital Wellington, this city really has a very special charm, a visit is definitely a must
- To the stadium for rugby (in Auckland), definitely a very interesting national sport
- My little insider tip are the Abby Caves in Whangerei, north of Auckland, there you can explore the caves for free and marvel at the wonderful fireflies, in my opinion it was even more than in the Waitomo Caves and it is too touristy there
- Wai-O-Tapo Thermal Wonderland between Rotorua and Taupo is really unbelievable, as a student quite cheap for what you get to see, the champagne pool is really unbelievable
- What I didn’t come to because of the weather was the Tongario Crossing (and my skydiving was unfortunately canceled too:(), but when I come back I will finally climb the doom mountain
- There is of course a lot more to see on the North Island, but my time was limited. During the semester I usually allowed myself a long weekend for a few trips
- Lake Tekapo is my absolute favorite lake in NZ, so beautifully blue and clear
- Dunedin is worth a visit for the student life alone. . . an entire neighborhood where only student apartments are lined up next to each other
- Akaroa is practically right next door and the view of the harbor is like a painting
- You just have to see Milford Sound, a boat tour would definitely be worth it, unfortunately only did one kayak tour, but it was also amazing, preferably both
- Abel Tasman Track was just great, unfortunately the only multi-day hike I did in NZ, so it was already quite cold at night in May, but luckily it was pretty empty due to the off-season
- Marlborough Sounds are also very good to see by car, we made it to the French Pass and it was really beautiful
After my semester, I took a few more weeks to visit the South Island
- Lake Rotoiti is not that popular, I only came across it through my phone wallpaper, but it was one of the best days here, the hike over the mountain was breathtaking and the sunrises and sunsets were just insane over the lake.
- The west coast once again shows a different picture of NZ, wild and rough, simply unique and the glaciers are also worth a visit
- The Mount Cook National Park was another highlight, wonderful to trudge through the snow in this winter wonderland
I have seen and experienced far more than what I have briefly listed and there is so much more to see. But quite apart from the beautiful and varied landscape, I always think it sometimes looks like it was painted, it’s not the best thing about New Zealand. The best by far is simply the people, so friendly and helpful, it’s almost unbelievable. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know that many Kiwis at University of Canterbury, or let’s not say enough. But as a backpacker in New Zealand, it’s best to hitchhikeI got to know quite a few locals after all. So I can only suggest everyone to mingle with the Kiwis as well as possible, I have had my best memories and stories with locals.
Overall, this semester abroad was the best decision ever, I fell totally in love with the country and its people and can’t wait to return to New Zealand after my studies for my Work & Holiday Visa and hopefully I can call New Zealand my home one day. . .