VUW Review

VUW Review

I studied for a trimester 2009/2010 at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW, see ehuacom) in the program of the ‘self directed study’. On the one hand, this gave me a lot of personal responsibility, but with wonderful support, which was characterized by very personal and relaxed interaction with my supervisor and his ‘lab meeting group’. On the other hand, I could organize my time myself and decide when I do what.

For six months I lived in Wellington in a shared apartment that I
organized through http://www. trademe. co. nz/. By the way, this homepage is good for everything in New Zealand; Cars, apartments, etc.

Wellington is a great city to live in. Although relatively small with around 250,000 inhabitants, it has a lot to offer, culturally as well as from the surrounding area. There is also enough to celebrate and everything is central and within easy walking distance. So this was a nice alternative to Berlin, the German city where I study. I have often made short trips in the van that I bought there through trademe. There are so many beautiful forests, beaches and routes to hike, to stroll or to totally relax. Therefore, the ‘self directed study’ suited me enormously, as I was able to organize my time myself. Other Bachelor students have a somewhat stricter plan with little flexibility and a lot of reading material.

My study project related to the evaluation of data on the olfactory communication (sense of smell) of the black rhinoceros in South Africa. The data was recorded by my supervisor in 2003-2005 and has been waiting for analysis ever since. So I got raw data that had to be entered in Excel and then statistically evaluated. This took a lot of time, but gave me independent time management. After that, I wrote a report that I converted into a shorter paper and will now be published. I regularly took part in the ‘lab meeting groupt’ of my supervisor and presented my work orally after it was completed.

I always had the feeling that I was being taken seriously, even if the other members already had permanent positions at the university, were doing their doctoral thesis or were writing their master’s thesis.

My work took place as part of my master’s degree, Ecology, Evolution, Nature Conservation (Potsdam). I took the 4th semester here in New Zealand, which means that I had already done most of my course work. Before that I studied the Bachelor in Biology at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

I organized most of these studies myself. MicroEDU helped me get in touch with the university, but the project and the search for a supervisor remained my job. This definitely takes some time and commitment, but it is really worth it!

Life there then flowed by itself for me. You have a lot of time when you come to a new city. The people there are very open and helpful, it’s easy to get a foothold and meet people. Wellington in particular offers many opportunities for this, and a lot is also offered through the university if you want. I think the university apartments are overpriced and you can easily find something yourself. Many private offers are also posted on the notice boards at universities. The summer term in which I studied there offers an easy opportunity to find an apartment, as many students are away for the summer, travel or work. However, this also means that the range of courses in the summer looks relatively poor and it could be difficult to find a course. The course mainly takes place during the two winter trimesters.

However, I wanted to enjoy two summers in a row, which I succeed successfully, with the summer or the weather in general being very dominated by clouds, strong winds and extremely rapid weather changes. That means in many other places there is more sunshine and less wind. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the summer in Wellington and can only recommend the city.

The surrounding area is very beautiful and offers opportunities for many excursions. The DOC (Department of Conservation) is expanding many hiking trails. Ie the signage is extremely good, the paths often start from car parking spaces. In addition, huts have been built along the paths so that trips of several days can be made easily and cheaply.

The university also has a self-organized nature conservation group that anyone can participate in. If you are interested in sports there is a ‘Recreation Center’ on each of the 3 campuses that offers both sports courses and a gym and every student can attend all courses for a few dollars per trimester. – The yoga courses are really nice – Football and tennis courts are also offered free of charge. The university really offers its students something and is there when you need help.

In conclusion, I can say that I didn’t want to go back at all. However, I would like to finish my studies here in Germany before I look for a job somewhere, maybe New Zealand. I would have liked to have stayed there longer, but New Zealand has abolished its agreement with Germany and France that allowed postgraduates to study for domestic fees. Now, as an international student, I would have paid NZ $ 9,600, and that was definitely too much for me. The local fees are ok, you pay per course. I also received a scholarship from VUW because I actually did my supervisor’s job.

So if you feel like doing something like that, don’t hesitate, don’t think about complications, because you can’t foresee and plan everything anyway. We Germans have it in such a way that we ‘over-plan’ things and are sometimes disappointed when it doesn’t work out as we imagine. And when you are far away the expectations automatically decrease, ie you can only be positively overwhelmed. However, this applies to all areas: o)

I hardly prepared myself and everything went wonderfully there. Just let them come when you have organized your studies. As I said, the apartment wasn’t a problem either. Think of the great great uncertainty that can enrich your life so enormously.

VUW Review

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