Wellywood is its own kind of glamorous, where grungy, hipster cool meshes with a slick waterfront and elegant hilltop parks. Easily one of New Zealand’s most striking cities, Welly’s Victorian timber villas tumble down steep hills and valleys towards the sweeping harbour. Despite the somewhat precarious nature of the city’s location, it holds firm against the infamous gales that sweep across town, and the odd earthquake that shakes things up now and again. Studying abroad in Wellington certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but brave the weather and you might just fall head over heels (hopefully not down one of the hills) in love with Wellington.
Studying Abroad in Wellington
On top of studiously learning about all of the great places to eat and drink around town, you can study just about everything in Wellington. Along with the internationally-ranked, research intensive Victoria University, there are several highly regarded education facilities and technology institutes in Wellington.
As the political hub of the country, Wellington is a great place to study politics. You can take a field trip to the curiously-shaped parliament buildings (aptly named The Beehive). Wellington is where all the policy and law makers reign, so it is a powerful location for studying law. Local students will tell you that all of New Zealand’s best thinkers get their start in Wellington’s universities.
Wellington has a name for turning out great film, from offbeat comedies to powerful dramas (they don’t have that Wellywood sign up on the hill for nothing). Studying film in Wellington is a great way to hone your craft, while being exposed to new influences and sources of creativity. You can also pursue artistic pursuits such as creative writing and dance.
If the life of a struggling artist doesn;t appeal to you, Wellington is also a great place to study subjects such as economics and finance. Thanks to its status as capital, Wellington is an international city: ideal for studying international business or diplomacy.
Wellington study programs run on a semester system, with the first semester running from late February through to June, and the second semester from July to November. Four courses, or “papers,” usually makes up a full-time workload for each semester, with a combination of assignments and end-of-semester exams making up your total grade.
Life in Wellington
Pick Wellington, the cultural and artistic hub for study abroad New Zealand. It is bursting with creativity and bohemian vibes. There are snippets of poetry graffitied around the waterfront, and the infamous bucket fountain of Cuba Street exemplifies the quirky nature of Wellington’s art scene.
Cafe culture is enshrined in Wellington’s way of life. There are dozens of cozy, hipster, and elegant cafes scattered throughout the city, each competing to have the best flat white. Rain visits Wellington frequently, and their is no better activity on a wet, grey day than enjoying brunch and a lovingly made coffee in one of these Wellingtonian institutions.
Wellington deserves its place as the country’s capital, with a diverse array of cultural activities available at any given time. Te Papa museum is arguably the best in the whole country and it is completely free to enter. A ride on the cable car up to the botanical garden is mandatory, with the bonus option of visiting the Carter Observatory while you’re up there. Take your pick from classical and boutique theater venues for nightly shows of exciting performance art. After dark, Courtenay Place comes alive with revelers, and if you look carefully you will find everything from gin bars to cowboy themed clubs.
Accommodation & Visas
If you study in Wellington, you’ll typically live in student halls of residence. These are dormitory style housing options, where you will usually share your room with one other person, and share common living areas with all of the people on your floor. Meals are provided in these student halls, with three mass-produced meals a day. It’s not the best cuisine you will taste in Wellington, but it is convenient and cost-effective. If you prefer to live more independently, you can easily find a shared house, or flat, with other students. Just bear in mind that Wellington houses are old: so old that many of them lack proper insulation. In chilly Wellington winters this can make life pretty miserable (luckily New Zealand specializes in making good woolly socks).
There are several different visa options available for students wishing to study abroad in Wellington. The type of visa you will need depends on your nationality, the length of your intended stay, and what kind of program you are enrolled in. If that sounds complicated, don’t worry! The process is all done online, and once you have all the right documentation together, it is pretty straightforward.
The main things you will need for study abroad New Zealand is an acceptance letter from the place where you will be studying in Wellington (like the University of Wellington, for instance), proof that you will be able to cover your course fees and support yourself during your stay, and proof that you will leave the country upon completion of your program. Your visa will be issued electronically after your application has been reviewed, and after that you will be good to go. To find out more specifically which type of visa you should be applying for and how to go about it, get in touch with your nearest New Zealand embassy.
Benefits & Challenges
One of the best things about studying in Wellington is how easily you can explore the rest of New Zealand. A huge part of studying abroad in New Zealand is making the most of the adventure travel opportunities, which is easy to do when based in the capital. Wellington is central to the whole country - you might hear it referred to as the middle of Middle Earth. The fjords and mountains of the South Island are only a ferry ride away, while the golden beaches and glittering lakes of the north are easily accessed by buses. Wellington’s airport has flights all over the country, plus a few international options just for good measure.
If you study in Wellington, you’ll also enjoy an exceptionally high quality of life. New Zealand is renowned for its easygoing atmosphere, and Wellington is no different. Wellington ranks as one of the safest cities in the world, and on top of that it is compact and walkable, making it easy to get around. The plentiful green spaces in the city mean there is always a chance to stop and take a breather, while enjoying New Zealand’s natural beauty. Overall Wellington is a comfortable and livable study abroad destination.
So what are you waiting for? Go get in touch with your inner Kiwi, experience life in one of the world’s coolest capitals, and study abroad in Wellington.