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Semester on the North Island, New Zealand

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Best time of my life!

Studying abroad is what everyone says, the best time of your life! Being able to immerse yourself in a whole new culture with new foreign friends was worth every penny. It is also a must to travel and explore the land because that is one of the best ways to meet the real Kiwis. Also, you need to hitchhike because it is safe and fun.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

My time in Wellington

Wellington is a fantastic city to live in and study in. There is always so much to do and see and you will always find yourself trying new things- sometimes things you never would have imaged yourself doing! While I was here I visited almost every other part of the country and as amazing and mind blowing as the whole country is, I always really enjoyed having Wellington as my "home"

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    2

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    8

Just to warn you

New Zealand is expensive and while the exchange rate is in our favor it is still said to have to spend $15 on standard shampoo that I could get for $5-10 in the states.
If your concern isn't money then you'll have a blast! There are loads of amazing restaurants (I went out for various Asian food when I could, it was delicious!) and some pretty unique pubs.
Don't plan a trip around other people. This is your experience and if some people aren't doing what your doing or you don't like how it's been planned then go off on your own. I did for my first trip and had a ball. I met new people and I only did what I wanted to do.

Academics:
The teachers were very hands off, as in it was eve hard to meet with them at their scheduled office hours. They just gave you a project and expected you to know what they wanted.

Living Situation:
The Uni houses were all pretty gross. I had leaves all over my floor and cobwebs in the window when I moved in. I also lived with 9 other people which was a bit much.

Cultural Immersion:
It was NZ so there wasn't much of a difference except for the prices of things, which I was not warned about by this program or my school. I would have picked a different location if I realized how expensive NZ was.

Program Administration:
She was great and always had time to meet for coffee.

Health and Safety:
I never say anything happen except for neat car attacks but that is just the locals being reckless. Beware of cars!

Social Life:
I lived with 9 other people so we al hung out a lot. Kiwi's are not on the overly outgoing side. I have only talked to a handful of them because even in class they stay quiet. It was kinda annoying since that's the opposite of who I am.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    1

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

My amazing study abroad trip on the North Island of New Zealand!

Studying abroad in New Zealand was probably the best 4 months of my life so far. The first notable part of New Zealand was the beautiful and incomparable scenery and nature, everyday I felt lucky to be in such a gorgeous country. Most New Zealand people who I met were so friendly and went out of their way to help me in any way or just to chat. My house was located on Salamanca Road, a quick walk to Kelburn campus and right near the cable car that takes you into the city. I also lived near a bunch of other houses full of study abroad kids. Traveling to the South Island and Australia were highlights of my studying there. New Zealand is a great place to go when you are young as it is known for adventure sports/experiences. My parents visited me while I was there and were shocked at how much they loved their trip, it is a great place!

Academics:
The classes were not as easy as I (or you) may expect them to be for study abroad. Also, typical New Zealand students took 3 courses but my home university required me to take 4 so that is something to be aware of.

Living Situation:
I lived in a house with 9 other girls from all over. The house was pretty big, right near campus/the cable car/the botanical gardens, and at a great location with other students nearby. I couldn't have been happier with my housing but I would NOT recommend living in dorms as most people who were staying in dorms were unhappy.

Cultural Immersion:
The culture in New Zealand was fairly easy to get used to, especially because English was the first language. The New Zealand people are known to be very welcoming and friendly, as I found that they were. Living with one girl from New Zealand was helpful because I could ask her a lot of things about the country, school, Wellington, etc.

Program Administration:
I would not choose to study abroad with CIS again or recommend it to anyone else. The first issue was that all other programs met with the other people also in their program and had trips/dinners/events with their program. I never even formally met anyone in the CIS program, not other students in the program or anyone who worked for the program. Once they get you to New Zealand and have the school drop you off at your house, you pretty much are on your own and will rarely hear from them again. There are definitely other programs that will bring you places to help you travel and connect you with other students in your program that are superior to CIS.

Social Life:
Wellington is a great city to go out in. There are a lot of bars, clubs, and places that have live music.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    5

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    3

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    8

New Zealand = Awesome. CIS, not so much.

New Zealand, Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud--call it by whatever name you wish, but overall "amazing" will forever be an understatement. If you like to have fun, this is the place for you. If you do it right, I promise you that you will never be bored. For one, you're surrounded by the most gorgeous scenery every single day and believe me, it does not get old. There are many places to travel to, hikes to hike, games to watch, things to learn, etc. The list could go on for a while. Not to mention Wellington's superb night life. I highly recommend NZ as a choice for study abroad students--although you may have a hard time keeping yourself on track with the enormous amount of distractions.
While there is very close to zero chance of you having a horrible time here, I do want to offer up some advice. If possible, get yourself into a flat (house) with local students. The best way to start culturally adapting yourself is by living with the people whose culture has shaped this country into the wonder that it is. Also, I would suggest to save up as much money as you can beforehand because you will definitely want to travel and take advantage of all the activities that fill both the North and South Islands. In addition, make sure to bring appropriate clothing for the duration of your stay. I was unprepared for bipolar Wellington weather. It can be sunny at one moment and then windy and rainy the next, just make sure you know what type of weather you will be encountering throughout your stay.
Lastly, I do not say this because I want to bash CIS, but upon talking to other American study abroad students, I found that their study abroad programs were way more involved and helpful than CIS. For me, CIS helped me register for classes, secure a place to live, and ensure a ride from the airport upon arrival. All of the other programs I learned about while there did all of that and much more. They also took their abroad students on frequent trips around both islands at extremely discounted prices as well as gathered together for dinners and other fun activities. I had no clue that there were other people in my program and it was only by chance that I met two girls who were also a part of CIS. Having a more involved study abroad program also helps you to make friends. If you'd rather go at it alone, then CIS is the program for you.

Academics:
As far as academics go, it was very interesting to be in a completely new environment for school. Many aspects of the New Zealand education system differ from that of the U.S. For example, the word 'college' means 'high school' here in NZ. University, or Uni for short, is the word used to mean college. In addition, they have tutorials. Tutorials are mandatory classes in which a smaller group of students from your lecture class meet with a 'tutor' (another teacher separate from that of your lectures) to discuss the weekly lectures and have any questions answered. You sign up for one tutorial per class and meet once a week in addition to your regular lectures. I found these to be very helpful since I was unaccustomed to the large class sizes. Their grading system is pass/fail--meaning you need a 50% in the class to pass and you don't receive letter grades on your transcript.
Overall, I found it slightly difficult to adapt to the NZ education system. I never thought I would complain about not having homework, but since most courses here have on average two essays and a final test throughout the duration of each class, I found it stressful that each one weighed so heavily on my grade. With more work, there's room to improve if you did poorly on an assignment or test, but with only three things attributing toward your final grade, there is little room for mistakes.

Living Situation:
The flat (house) and room that I was placed in was much more spacious than I had imagined. I was placed into a very diverse flat with girls from France, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam. Not that I didn't enjoy the diversity, but I was really looking forward to living with the locals and embracing the Kiwi lifestyle. Also, all the girls in my flat were post-grad students. I found this to be somewhat of a barrier between us since they were all older and in a different stage of life from myself.
Overall, the house was always clean and everyone got along well.

Cultural Immersion:
First off, New Zealand is an incredible place. The Kiwi's are amazingly nice and kind, and want to help you as much as they can. The entire country is set up for you to have fun--and believe me, you will never be bored here. As a outsider coming in, there is so much to see and do with awesome people alongside you the whole time. That being said, I do have to say that I was disappointed in the amount of actual Kiwis that I did befriend. Since I was in a house full of post-grad students (none of which were kiwi), and the houses surrounding mine were filled with other study abroad students from the states, I found it difficult to meet many locals. Even my papers (classes) were filled with many American students. Even though I feel as though I really had to work to embrace the Maori culture, in the end I was successful and I feel like my mission of diversifying myself even more was completed. Overall, I would still highly recommend trying to get into a flat with local students. I feel as though I could have gotten so much more out of my stay here in NZ if I had been living with Kiwis.

Program Administration:
Although I am incredibly satisfied with my stay in New Zealand, I found my study abroad program to be one of the worst in comparison to the other American students I met while there. All the other programs took their students on frequent day and weekend trips all over the North and South Island. Not only that, but they got to do all of it at an extremely discounted price. The only thing that CIS did for me while I was in New Zealand was make sure I had a ride from the airport to my flat. It actually was the school that picked me up, CIS only organized it. I also didn't meet ANY of the other students from the CIS program while the students of other programs gathered frequently. I only met two girls who were also a part of the CIS program, and this was by chance.
Before I left for New Zealand, CIS was average in terms of service. I often had to email them back for clarification on things, sometimes more than once before receiving a response. Overall, I think that CIS could improve their program if they didn't just drop you at your new home and leave you to figure out everything on your own.

Health and Safety:
I felt very safe in my house and around the area. I did hear about a couple of incidences, but I, myself, was never concerned or scared for my own safety. I would like to add that I was also very careful and didn't put myself into situations where something bad could happen.

Social Life:
I had so much fun and I met so many people. My only wish is that I had been placed with Kiwis, since I chose NZ mostly based off the fact that I wanted to experience the Maori culture.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    6

  • Living Situation

    6

  • Cultural Immersion

    4

  • Program Administration

    7

  • Health and Safety

    9

  • Social Life

    9

This program is ok

I wish the program had been bigger but I know this isn't really something CISabroad can control. Other programs had organized/included events like a trip to Fiji and excursions in the Auckland, NZ area before school started. Many of programs had a few excursions throughout the semester that were well planned and fun. And almost all programs ended with a program dinner. I felt kind of cheated that we didn't get any of these things.

Academics:
Victoria University of Wellington was a pretty awesome university. However, their were a few classes I had all the requirements to get into but was excluded from simply because I was a study abroad student.

Living Situation:
Our flat was pretty nice and it was awesome that electricity, washer/dryer, water, etc was all included. It would have been nice to be able to live with people that were actually from New Zealand however, like the program suggested we would.

Cultural Immersion:
Living with all study abroad students in a study abroad housing community made it kind of difficult to meet New Zealanders.

Program Administration:
The administration was pretty helpful and almost always available for questions but sometimes slow to get information to me.

Social Life:
Wellington has tons of bars (chill ones and party ones), clubs, live music, etc.

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Cultural Immersion

    6

  • Program Administration

    5

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Windy Welly

I had an amazing experience and met wonderful people and would recomend this program to anyone!! However I would definitely say to bring a rain coat and/or windbreaker to make time all that more enjoyable in Wellington. They don't call it windy welly for nothing ;)

Overall Rating

7/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    3

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

New Zealand was the best experience of my life.

Being able to travel to New Zealand was one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far. It opened up a whole new set of doors for me and my future. The only real annoyance I had was with the fact that the program did not do much in order to get us acquainted with others in our program. The advisors were very helpful but it would've been nice if we had the chance to meet students who were also in our program or even put a face to the emails from the advisors. Overall, a great experience and wouldn't change much except perhaps actual contact with any CIS staff and ability to contact other students in the CIS program.

Academics:
Good academic programs. Hard to adjust because it's a much different curriculum structure and grading system.

Living Situation:
Provided with a nice flat, fully equipped with everything necessary to live comfortably as well as provided with all the linens for the bed.

Cultural Immersion:
Program did not do much of cultural immersion. Took that upon myself to a team to immerge myself into the culture and people of New Zealand

Program Administration:
My advisor was extremely helpful in answering questions that pertained to the semester abroad. But we were never introduced or had any programs that introduced us to others also in the CIS program. Not even a list of others who were here that we could possibly meet up with.

Health and Safety:
Felt perfectly safe. There was nothing that ever made me feel unsafe here in Wellington.

Social Life:
Everyone I have personally come across in New Zealand have been nothing but nice and helpful. There were always willing to lend a helping hand when they saw that I or anyone else was in need.

Overall Rating

6/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    3

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    9

Not streamlined, not the most helpful advising, seems overpriced, but worth it because CIS was my only route to study abroad in NZ.

I do not feel that the advising aspect of CIS's program was particularly streamlined. I often felt very confused as to what I needed to do the entire time, and was constantly being asked for more details, forms to be filled out, etc. I understand these steps are a necessity, but I never knew when the process would be over and was anxious about the idea that if I missed one email, I could miss the deadline for a certain step. I think it would have been helpful if, as soon as I signed up for CIS, I received a timeline with each step that I would have to do for the entire process. Then I could have referenced that and checked off each step as I completed them. I suppose it's hard to explain, but I felt very on-edge the entire time and have spoken to other CIS students who felt the same.
My advisor, Jessica Sztaimberg, was very nice but could not always answer my questions and told me the wrong day for my international orientation (and told me different dates several times). I had plans to take a few days to drive down to Wellington from Auckland (and sightsee a bit) with a friend who is a NZ citizen, but was delayed in SFO for 2 days--and because I was told I had to be in Wellington for orientation the day before I actually had to be, I rushed to get to Wellington, driving through the night, and did not get to sight-see. It was a bit frustrating when I showed up for orientation only to be told that it was the next day.
I am happy that I finished off my university experience with an exchange in NZ, and I liked VUW very much. I am also glad that CIS handled payments to VUW and my home university. I am not sure, however, that it was worth the ridiculously high program fee, as CIS did not do anything to help me other than make payments.
My on-site advisor, Christina Baldarelli, and I didn't have to interact much, but she was very nice to be around the 2 times I met her.

Program Administration:
I do not feel that the advising aspect of CIS's program was particularly streamlined. I often felt very confused as to what I needed to do the entire time, and was constantly being asked for more details, forms to be filled out, etc. I understand these steps are a necessity, but I never knew when the process would be over and was anxious about the idea that if I missed one email, I could miss the deadline for a certain step. I think it would have been helpful if, as soon as I signed up for CIS, I received a timeline with each step that I would have to do for the entire process. Then I could have referenced that and checked off each step as I completed them. I suppose it's hard to explain, but I felt very on-edge the entire time and have spoken to other CIS students who felt the same.
My advisor, Jessica Sztaimberg, was very nice but could not always answer my questions and told me the wrong day for my international orientation (and told me different dates several times). I had plans to take a few days to drive down to Wellington from Auckland (and sightsee a bit) with a friend who is a NZ citizen, but was delayed in SFO for 2 days--and because I was told I had to be in Wellington for orientation the day before I actually had to be, I rushed to get to Wellington, driving through the night, and did not get to sight-see. It was a bit frustrating when I showed up for orientation only to be told that it was the next day.
I am happy that I finished off my university experience with an exchange in NZ, and I liked VUW very much. I am also glad that CIS handled payments to VUW and my home university. I am not sure, however, that it was worth the ridiculously high program fee, as CIS did not do anything to help me other than make payments.
My on-site advisor, Christina Baldarelli, and I didn't have to interact much, but she was very nice to be around the 2 times I met her.