Student stories

Students share their experiences of Study Abroad and Exchange.

Xenia Jarostschuk - USA

Colin Murchison, USA

“The biggest piece of advice for future international students is to challenge yourself socially. This is an opportunity to find out a lot about who you are, as well as meet some incredible people. Auckland accumulates people from all over America, Europe, Southern Africa, China, Korea, and the rest of the world. I felt like I got an insight into many cultures, not just New Zealand’s, while studying here.

I had attempted and failed to study at the University of Auckland previously due to financial restrictions. When applying this time, I told myself I would do whatever it took to find funding, so I scoured the resources my home university’s international office had and applied for all the scholarships I could find. I ended up receiving 3 different scholarships.

I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit while studying in Auckland. I joined both the tramping and rock-climbing clubs at the university. These clubs provided me the ability to meet and befriend people with similar interests and hobbies. I did a couple of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, and also travelled around both the North and South Islands.

During my spare time, I worked on becoming a better photographer, as well as spending countless hours working on my website. This was my last semester of college, and now that I have finished my goal is to promote sustainable lifestyles through photography and videography.

I hope that my website adaptography.com can inspire people to make socially, culturally, environmentally, and financially responsible decisions as well as provide entertainment through my artwork.”

Read Colin’s blog from his semester in New Zealand

Brook Thompson, USA

"I am from the Yurok and Karuk Native American tribes in northern California. The Yurok tribe is California’s largest, with nearly 5,000 enrolled members. I chose to study abroad at the University of Auckland through IFSA Butler to see firsthand New Zealand’s story with indigenous peoples. I knew of similarities between some Māori and Yurok traditions, such as women’s chin markings. I really wanted to learn more about the culture’s past history and how they are dealing with the problems that affect the majority of indigenous people today.

"I’m particularly interested in the revival of the Māori language, and see parallels between the struggles of Māori and those of my own people to preserve our language. My late grandfather was one of the last native speakers of the Yurok language and had a profound impact on me. He really supported my decision to pursue a university degree. One thing that stands out for me from my time at Auckland was when I learnt about tactics used to take land from the Māori people during colonisation. This made me very sad, but only made me more passionate about learning the Yurok language.

"I picked “Māori World View” as one of my courses because I strongly believe that you should know the people of the land you are in. One of the highlights of my time at Auckland was being hosted on a local marae (Māori meeting house) and learning more about Māori culture. I loved hearing the stories behind the carvings, as well as eating fried bread since we have fried bread in my tribe too.

"I was also attracted to studying in Auckland because of the cultural diversity on campus, and I wasn’t disappointed. In my experience, schools in the US are mainly white students, but in New Zealand I befriended students from China, Italy, Spain, Malaysia, and of course New Zealand.

"My teachers were great, in fact three out of four were phenomenal. I found myself talking to them each day after class, they were approachable, very helpful and kind. I liked how organised all the buildings are on campus – they all have numbers so it makes it really easy to find classes and meeting spots. I also like the Student Commons building in the middle of City Campus, it is a great place to study, get some tea, or go shopping for school books. In my spare time I used the gym which was great, and I also joined the Tramping (hiking) Club. Another stand-out experience was taking a self-defence class at the gym – it was awesome!"

Brook Thompson is a Gates Millennial Scholar from California, United States. She is studying Civil Engineering at Portland State University.

Stand for Children featured Brook in the following video.

Watch Brook's videos on her New Zealand experience.

Caroline Nordli, Norway

"Spending a year abroad is one of the best decisions I've ever made! My life in Auckland as an international student is a lot of fun. I get to meet people from all over the world and I feel that I learn something new about a different culture almost every day. The cultural diversity is one of the things I love about the University of Auckland, and about Auckland in general.

"I'm studying Language Teaching because I want to be able to teach English back home. I've always been interested in language in general and am also taking beginners’ Spanish this semester. The tutors and lecturers are always happy to help if you need it with anything regarding your courses. I love that the campus is big and spacious and that you have cafes and parks very close by so you can meet up with friends and eat lunch outside in the sun in between classes.

"Sometimes it can be hard balancing fun and studies, because there is always something going on both at uni and in Auckland City. During busy times I find it helpful to plan fun things with friends ahead, so that this can be my motivation for getting my work done. I also try to do all of my studying during the day so that I have the evenings off to hang out with my friends.

"I have so many great memories to take home with me – the trips with the International Club, participating in the ‘Humans versus Zombies’ game on campus, camping in Northland in the Bay of Islands, 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga, visiting Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands in the Auckland harbour. During the recent winter break I went to Fiji, and the next on my list is the South Island. One thing I will remember the most from my time here is all of the great people I have met during my stay."

Sara Lobdell, USA

"Although I knew very little about the New Zealand before I came, I found it very easy to settle in when I first arrived in Auckland. My accommodation was in a University apartment (flat) complex that was only two years old, so everything was pretty new. It was easy to make friends from within my flat, and the staff organised events for all the students in the complex to meet each other.

"My advice to students considering a Study Abroad semester is, firstly, to choose classes you think you will enjoy. I studied four courses including Marine Science, Fundamentals of Music Education, and Orchestration. I also took a Cook Islands Māori language/culture course which was very interesting because I got to interact with Māori culture, and I really enjoyed learning about the differences between Rarotongan Māori and New Zealand Māori.

"Second, try new activities but also join groups that cater to interests you already have – that way you’ll make friends fast because you already have something in common. Through the student clubs I joined, I was able to meet some amazing kiwis who I became very close with and travelled around the country with. All the times I spent with them stand out as experiences I will never forget."

You can read more about Sara's New Zealand experience on her blog.

Davi De Ferreyro Monticelli, Brazil

"Auckland is a great city to live in. I share an apartment with two other friends who are also international students. There is always something to do in Auckland if you are up for it. I like skateboarding and relaxing at the beach, and there are plenty of places to do both near the city, such as Mission Bay or Devonport.

"The University’s orientation events are perfect for meeting other students, you just need to be open-minded and social. I am also a member of the Football Club; I found that being part of a club really helped me make friends.
"I am studying Environmental Engineering. One particularly interesting course I took at Auckland was called Environmental Science and Decision Making. Although I found it challenging, it was good to have the opportunity to study a topic that isn’t offered at my home university.

"The University’s campus and its facilities are well-organised. The laboratories and computer labs are excellent in terms of equipment and availability. The environment really incentivises you to stay on campus as long as you need to.

"In semester breaks and weekends, New Zealand is the perfect country for adventurers and explorers! I have travelled around both by myself and with friends – both were great experiences. There are a bunch of places I recommend visiting, like Cape Reinga, the Waitomo glowworm caves, Queenstown, Coromandel, Lake Tekapo… I have visited them all."

Read more about Davi's New Zealand experience on his blog.