After deciding to do a semester abroad in Wellington, I contacted MicroEDU. After all the necessary documents had been submitted, I received my preliminary approval from VUW shortly afterwards. Then the tuition fees were transferred, the flight booked and the visa applied for. It took about two weeks to receive the visa. If you would like to travel a little longer after completing your studies, you should apply for the visa relatively late as it is valid from the date of issue. I got my visa at the end of April, flew at the beginning of July and had to leave in mid-January. That gave me almost two months that I could use to travel in the end. Note: VUW stands for Victoria University of Wellington according to abbreviationfinder.
Since I didn’t have time to fly to Wellington a little earlier to look for a flat share, I found out about the various dormitories. I chose a student residence in Wellington. UniLodge Stafford House consists of small, fully equipped apartments with two or three rooms each. With a large corner window front, my room was already cold in winter, but it was very bright. I was very lucky that I have lived with two New Zealanders. Overall, a relatively large number of locals live in the Stafford, but also internationals. The rules regarding guests and alcohol were relatively strict. At the weekend there was always a security guard at the entrance overnight so that no stranger could enter the building unnoticed. The location of Stafford right in the CBD is perfect to get to the city center as well as the Pipitea campus within 5 minutes. It was about a 15-minute walk to the main campus and 10 minutes to the waterfront. The house also had a large common room with TV and games, a study room, a small gym and a music room with a piano. Despite the relatively strict rules, I liked my room and the house itself very much and can only recommend it.
The VUW, the course and the on-site support
The VUW has three different locations that are spread across the city, but all can be reached within 30 minutes on foot. The main campus with its library offers a great view of Wellington, so that learning is much more fun. There are also enough jobs. In addition to three cafes, a fast food shop, sushi and Indian food on campus, there are also microwaves to warm up your own food.
In contrast to the German system, the course was much more academic. You definitely have to do with four courses, because each course requires, in addition to preparation for the respective tutorials, essays or other tasks that go into the final assessment. In terms of level, the courses are a little lower than in Germany. The First Year “Tourism in New Zealand” course in particular is very simple, but still recommended. Furthermore, “Environment and Resources: New Zealand Perspectives” offers a great course that also promotes critical thinking about New Zealand’s environment and nature.
I took part in the Victoria International Leadership Program (VILP) offered by VUW. I can highly recommend this, not only to come into more contact with Kiwis, but also to deal with, for example, New Zealand topics such as politics, culture and the environment. For example, I also worked at Amnesty International, which was also eligible for the VILP, and was able to make many contacts.
You could always turn to the local International Office if you had any questions or problems. For example, my expenses for a doctor’s visit were quickly reimbursed by the VUW insurance company. Events were also offered especially for international students, such as the International Buddy Program.
Leisure / excursion possibilities
Wellington has a lot to offer despite its small size. I can highly recommend trying out the many different cafes on Cuba Street, hopping from one bar to the other on Courtney Place and trying out a wide variety of culinary dishes. The Town Belt offers some nature walks that can be reached quickly from the city. The bays around Wellington can also be reached quickly and easily by bus. The Kapiti Coast is easy to get to by train, where you can enjoy a weekend getaway. Furthermore, Wellington offers a lot for art and culture lovers with its numerous museums and art galleries. Stand up paddling and kayaking are offered, as well as climbing with a view of the waterfront. Oriental Bay offers the city beach for relaxation in summer. For an afternoon excursion into nature, I can recommend the trip to the small Somes Island.
The VUW also has a large range of clubs. From Amnesty International to Yoga, there is something for everyone.
During spring break, I rented two cars with ten other students. Together we did a road trip across the North Island. Sometimes we stayed at DOC campsites, sometimes in hostels. I can highly recommend using these two weeks to travel around New Zealand a little and discover the unique nature.
The cost of living in New Zealand is very high compared to Germany. You should plan a lot more expenses not only for accommodation, but also for daily shopping. In order to save a little on fruit and vegetables, you can go shopping on Sundays at the Harbor Market. It is advisable to find out about scholarships from your university. With that I could cover the costs for my room, for example.
Tuition fees: NZ $ 12,750
Flight: approx. 1,500 €
Visa: approx. 200 €
During the semester
Maintenance costs: 700 – 1,000 € / month
Room: approx. 700 € / month
I can highly recommend studying at the VUW. On the one hand, Victoria University of Wellington is a nice size, not too big, but also not too small, on the other hand Wellington has a lot to offer. New Zealand’s niceness is hard to beat, so that you can feel right at home after the long arrival. For me it is certain that I will not have seen this country for the last time. Kia Ora!