16 April 2018

The First Week of University | Study With New Zealand

Sara Lobdell
US Study Abroad student

My first week of Uni is done! This week went by so fast, but strangely I feel like I didn't accomplish anything.

Granted it was only week one, syllabus week, but I also think I wasn't expecting so little structure from the kiwi way of Uni. I knew coming in that assignments would be more spaced out and that I'd be expected to, more or less, guide my own learning (with complementing lectures) in order to complete those assignments...but I wasn't expecting absolutely NO homework.

University Experience

Classes (kiwis call them “papers”) are much more laid back here that at Franklin & Marshall College where I go in the US. Textbooks are never optional, or "recommended", as they are here...you HAVE to have them. There is also a ton more class time in general at F&M than at Uni here.

Overall, I’ve sensed a more sponge-like “we’re here to learn and happy to do our best” vibe from other students, rather than the “I have to accomplish as much as possible to get a good job and be the best at life” vibe which I usually get at F&M. That could also be due to the cultural difference, as I've sense that kiwis are generally more laid back than people from the US.

Free time

To give you an idea of how much free time I have compared to what I’m used to, my weekly course load here is ~9.5 hours of lecture, no rehearsal, and lets say an average of 8 hours of studying weekly (2 hours/class)…so 15.5 hours of "school".

At F&M last semester I was taking 4 classes (~9 hours class time, ~8 hours studying weekly), 1 lab (4 hours/week), had a job as a teacher’s assistant (4 hours/week), had 3-6 hours of rehearsal per week, and spent at least an hour a day practicing on my own (7 hours)…I was spending almost 40 hours a week in "school".

College was basically a full time job. It's so, so weird to have so much extra time. Having that much free time last week actually made me anxious; all week I felt like I should be doing homework or readings or SOMETHING!


Although I knew very little about the New Zealand before I came, I found it very easy to settle in. 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. I was super impressed with my room and flat. It’s really spacious, has plenty of storage, and is just generally clean and new. My room is super sunny and looks out behind the building to a small bunch of trees and train tracks.

All in all, though it was a good first week!

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About the contributors
Sara Lobdell
US Study Abroad student

Sara studied biology and music at the University of Auckland and had a Generation Study Abroad Award. "Out of the eight universities in New Zealand I chose the University of Auckland in particular for its world-ranked academics and location. What better place to study the natural sciences than one in which you're constantly surrounded by natural beauty.