In the spring semester of 2014, from February to June 2014, I spent my semester abroad at the University of Canterbury (UOC, see abbreviationfinder for more meanings of UOC) in Christchurch, New Zealand. Since my home university, the University of Mannheim, unfortunately did not offer a partner university in New Zealand for me as an English studies (“culture and economics”) student, I was very happy to have this opportunity through MicroEDU as a so-called “free mover ” (ie not through a partner university of mine Home university) to be able to perceive.
Very early on, in May of the previous year (2013), I had already started using MicroEDU to find out more about the various universities that I could consider as a university abroad and so I was able to quickly decide on UOC in Christchurch, New Zealand. The student advisor from MicroEDU who was responsible for me supported me very well in my choice of university and was also at my side with advice and action when filling out and collecting all the necessary application documents. I never had the feeling of being on my own, because I was always able to contact her directly by email or by phone with questions without having to look for a contact at UOC first. The complete application and communication with the international university went through MicroEDU, who in turn had their permanent contact persons at UOC, which made the application and clarification of all formalities as easy as possible for me. I also never worried about missing any deadlines, important dates or information, as my MicroEDU student advisor always passed this information on to me directly and made me aware of important events.
After I had easily received the approval from UOC at the beginning of autumn 2013, MicroEDU helped me to get a room in the so-called Ilam Apartments, a dorm / student village not far from the UOC campus. I then lived on site with four exchange students, three came from the USA and one from China. My roommates and I became friends over the course of the semester. We went on many weekend trips together, shared cooking evenings and are still in contact today. If you want to live close to the university, do not let yourself be deterred from meeting a lot of (especially American!) Exchange students (mainly exchange students and New Zealand freshmen live in Ilam), and want to have it easy with the search for accommodation, then I can recommend Ilam Apartments highly recommend. The dormitory supervisors from the “Ilam Office” were always very nice and helpful and support you in all matters that are not directly related to the university. (For example, if you need spontaneous event tips or even first aid supplies. . . Ilam Office was always a very helpful first point of contact). However, if you are looking for cheaper accommodation, you can do it like the higher-semester locals and look for an off-campus flat share, which should not be that difficult to find in the district in which the university is located.
The leisure options in the immediate vicinity of the university are unfortunately somewhat limited, so it is definitely worth buying a ” Metrocard “, a discounted card for local bus transport in Christchurch. Some exchange students got together with three, four or five people right at the beginning of the semester and even bought a car for one semester, which they could then sell again almost effortlessly to mainly “Work & Traveler” at the end of the semester. A bus ticket or a bike is sufficient for Christchurch, but a car is recommended for traveling around New Zealand. If you don’t want to buy a car right away, you can of course just rent one. On weekends or during the midterm holidays, I often rented a car with friends or we drove with the big bus companies that use certain travel routes in New Zealand and are not that expensive.
For within Christchurch I can recommend cycling; if you are not afraid of having to drive in the rain. . . Because a rain jacket is an absolute must in Christchurch, especially for the spring semester, as it is autumn there and we also had some tropical rainstorms that you even get from Germany does not know.
But what I can definitely recommend is the UCSA (UOC Student Association) offer of the university. UCSA is the umbrella organization for all student organizations at the university and if you want to get in touch with locals there is a student association. During my semester abroad I was mainly with the UOC Tramping Club, which consists of a lot of nice, and above all local members. Almost every weekend there is a day or weekend hiking trip to beautiful hiking trails on the South Island. Just be careful: if the club classifies a hike as “medium”, it is actually very strenuous and in some cases even includes fun like “river crossing”, “rock climbing” or “ice ax training”. So be sure to inform yourself well beforehand! JBut a trip with the UOC TC is always worthwhile
About three months before my semester abroad, I was able to pass on my course wish list to UC via CC. The total of four selected courses, all of which I had clarified in advance with the respective specialist contacts at my university, were then also offered during my stay abroad and I was able to take everything. My courses at UOC were called: ” Identity, Ritual & Power: An Introduction to Anthropology ” (I was able to count towards my degree as a seminar from my culture module), ” Writing the Academic Essay ” (was for New Zealanders First semester at the UOC, but also very helpful for me as an English studies student and I was also able to get credit), “Introduction to Traditional Maori Society “(very interesting and recommendable course on the natives of New Zealand, which was mainly attended by exchange students), and” From Bambi to Kong – The Animal in American popular culture “(very interesting but also complex course, which is interdisciplinary dealt with the subject of “animal representation” in art, culture and media and provided me with useful and new incentives for my upcoming bachelor thesis!).
My conclusion: the semester abroad at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch was a complete success! The university courses didn’t really challenge me professionally, but they were very interesting and helped me to get to know new intercultural perspectives and approaches. The support and the Student Association offer at UOC were great and I always felt that I was in good hands! What is unique, however, is the special atmosphere that you can feel in Christchurch at the moment: new things are being built in every corner emerges and creative. The city of Christchurch itself is more of a sleepy, quiet town, but it also has its “insider sights” that are worth discovering start-ups/ Innovations sprout as a motivated and motivating reaction to the earthquake damage, which is still visible, especially in the inner city area. Various projects by committed citizens, students and the city are working to make Christchurch attractive again. This commitment and the strong driving community in Christchurch can also be felt very well as an exchange student.
And last but not least: Of course, the nature of New Zealand alone is a huge factor in why a semester abroad on the “Kiwi Island” is worthwhile. On the South Island in particular, I was able to marvel at breathtaking natural wonders that I will probably never forget.