First Impressions: Daryn

Hey everyone, it’s been nearly a year in the making but I’ve finally made it to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, or UVA!

Preparation

There are a lot of things that you need to do before exchange, but it is worth it! The 360 International application, your Exchange University application, Visas, Health and Travel Insurance, Accommodation, and everything else can take a while to get sorted. My advice would be to keep on top of things, especially your Visa and immigration forms, and if you’re looking to live off-campus, start your search as early as you can.

Getting to Charlottesville

I chose to fly with Air New Zealand direct to Houston with a two-night stopover. I was lucky to visit Houston a few days before Hurricane Harvey, so hope that the city recovers quickly. After this I flew via Charlotte, North Carolina and arrived at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, around a 15-minute drive to downtown. Charlottesville takes its role as a University city seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see UVA branding on almost anything including the airport, cars, and even on the road!

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Flying to Charlottesville

 

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Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Arrivals

Initial Impressions

I arrived in Charlottesville in the aftermath of the violence and rallies of August 11 and 12. Although it was a bit unsettling to see the events in the news before arriving, everyone I talked to was adamant that the protests did not represent the true Charlottesville.

Charlottesville is a university town with most things centred around campus and ‘The Corner,’ a row of cafes, restaurants, and shops adjacent to the Rotunda.

I chose to live off-campus so could move in as soon as I arrived. I’m fortunate to live in a house with a bunch of great guys (who are obsessed with Africa by Toto), but more on housing in my next post.

 

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Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall

Grounds

UVA has a lot of its own unique terms, one of them being ‘grounds,’ which means the University campus. The grounds are the only American University designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. From the flagship Rotunda and Lawn, to the Amphitheatre and numerous statues, UVA is a beautiful place to visit every day. There’s all you would expect from a University: numerous libraries, dining halls, the bookstore, gymnasiums, and sports stadiums. No matter the time of day, nothing beats walking up the lawn and glimpsing the Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson and inspired by Rome’s Parthenon.

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The Rotunda

UVA’s grounds are vast, so walks can be lengthy between some buildings. Fortunately, the free University Transit Service has you covered with frequent buses to, from, and around grounds. Charlottesville Area Transit also provides free rides on their bus network to UVA students, which is handy for trips further afield.

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Beta Bridge welcoming International Students

Orientation and Classes

The orientation for exchange students was on the Sunday before classes, covering class enrolment, general tips, and paperwork, followed by ice cream! The International Students Office is handy for any questions, from ID cards to travel, and the advisors there are always friendly.

There’s always a range of events going on for International Students such as Pizza on the Lawn, an International Students’ Picnic, and a trip to Washington, D.C.

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I’m based in the College of Arts and Sciences (also known as ‘the College’), which is the largest of UVA’s ten schools. Students are encouraged to visit a range of classes to see what interests them. I spent the first few days visiting a range of classes before I finalised my timetable. My two core courses are in the Economics Department but I’ve taken the opportunity study classes that I wouldn’t normally take at Auckland in Entrepreneurship, Creative Writing, and Politics.

Classes at UVA vary widely – my economics classes are in ‘traditional’ lecture-style classes, while the other three have between nine and eighteen students. These courses are focussed on student and professor discussions, something which is a bit different for me. The professors get to know your name and it’s certainly obvious if you don’t attend!

Being summer the weather is quite hot and the air conditioning in classes is a welcome relief. I’m told that the Fall Semester allows you to experience the full range of weather as the trees shed leaves, and there’s even a chance of snow in December.

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Grounds looking towards the UVA Chapel

Clubs

UVA boasts over 700 student-run clubs and organisations (about one for every 30 students), so there are many options to get involved. A Fall Activities Fair was held on the Lawn and in the amphitheatre the day before classes started. The most common strategy by students is to sign up to anything that interests them and to be more selective once the semester starts. I’m involved in a few clubs, including The Cavalier Daily as a Photographer and News Writer.

The Cavalier Daily is UVA’s student newspaper, Charlottesville’s oldest paper, and was named as one of the top 10 College Newspapers in the country. For those of you interested in fraternities and sororities, they do recruit in the Fall Semester, but the ones that I talked to are only looking for students who will be at UVA for at least a year.

 

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UVA Fall Activities Fair
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Taking Photos for the Cavalier Daily

Activities

If you look hard enough, there are always things happening on and around grounds. I’ve been to talks featuring NASA Astronaut and UVA alumnus Thomas Marshburn, Political Scientist Larry Sabato, a tour of Charlottesville start-ups run by Hack Cville, an International Student’s trip to Washington, D.C., volunteering for the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, pre-games, football, eclipse watching, taking photographs of sports games, and more.

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The first football game of the season

The Dave Matthews band hosted the Concert for Charlottesville, an evening for the community to unite in the face of recent events. This was an action-packed event, featuring performances from Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Coldplay, and Stevie Wonder, all held at UVA’s home of football, Scott Stadium.

Other things to keep on the lookout for in the coming months include the Virginia Film Festival, UVA’s Bicentennial celebrations, and the Thanksgiving break.

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The Concert for Charlottesville at Scott Stadium

Travel

Charlottesville seems a world away from anything else, but it’s actually quite accessible to the rest of the country. ­Washington, D.C. is less than three hours by Greyhound (bus) and Amtrak (train), or less than an hour by plane. Unfortunately the UVA Semester Calendar isn’t that travel-friendly with a few small breaks, rather than a longer mid-semester break as in New Zealand, but I’ll see what I can fit in.

Contact Me

I’ve had a great time at UVA so far, although it promises to get busier with midterms and assignments due all at once!

If you have any questions feel free to email me at dgov422 (at symbol) aucklanduni.ac.nz (no spaces), or comment below.

You can also follow me @daryngovender_ on Instagram, or @daryngovenderCD on Twitter (they’re both works in progress!).

Adobe Spark (3)

 

 

 

 

First Impressions: Matt

Hey y’all! So, I have finally arrived and settled into life at UNC and I think know is the time to share my first impressions of the place and the process of getting here.

Pre-departure

Before coming to UNC and the United States, there is a lot you must do. For me, the biggest headache was the Visa. Obtaining the Visa was a long process. It involved plenty of paperwork and applications to fill out as well as fees. UNC does help you along the way and is able to provide you with an I-20 form which is also needed to get the Visa. Once the application is complete, you are required to attend an interview at the US consulate in Auckland but don’t worry about it, the interviewer was friendly and literally only asked me a couple of questions. My biggest advice would be to get on board with the Visa application ASAP! I had to cancel my flights as my Visa would not have come through on time and it was quite costly. Booking flights early does save plenty of money but only do this if you are certain you will get your Visa before that date.

The Journey

Since I received my Visa late, I pretty much booked flights a week before I was required to arrive (not ideal). Last minute flights are expensive so to get a decent deal, I ended up taking four different planes to get to Raleigh. I took two planes from Auckland to LA with a brief stopover in Tahiti. After landing in LA, I had to take a shuttle to another Airport in neighbouring Orange County where I would catch an overnight flight to New Jersey. Once in New Jersey, I would catch my final flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

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See ya later NZ!

After a solid 30 hours of flying, I arrived at a hot and humid North Carolina day. I was picked up by a very helpful UNC student who used her time to help me get to the campus and essentially settle in. UNC has an organisation called EASE which helps ease us exchange students into life at UNC. One of the things they do is organise airport pickups which save us the hassle of organising transport to the campus from the airport. I found this extremely helpful. EASE also hosts many social events and is a great way to meet both American and other exchange students.

UNC

From the moment I arrived, I fell in love with the place. The University is supposedly the very first public University to open in the USA. It was founded in 1789 and has many old buildings with lots of character. The iconic feature is the old well where it is tradition to drink out of it on the first day of class to receive a 4.0 GPA.

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The Old Well

UNC also has plenty of green spaces. There are so many areas on campus where you could take a nap outside and enjoy the sunshine (unless you’re prone to burning like myself).

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The Main Quad

The campus also has plenty of sports facilities. The University is mad when it comes to sports (especially basketball). They are known as the UNC Tar Heels, named after North Carolina troops who would put tar on the soles of their shoes. UNC is very successful when it comes to sports and has national championships in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. It wasn’t until I had visited the football stadium that I realised just how mad Americans are when it comes to sports. The stadium holds just over 60,000 people, which I have learned is quite an average size by American standards.

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Kenan Stadium

Chapel Hill

The town of Chapel Hill is a great place to be a student. Franklin Street is the main hub of activity with its abundance of good food and places to drink. There is also a Target Supermarket which has everything you need. It is a chill place and is literally right next door to the UNC campus!

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Franklin Street

The other thing I noticed was that Chapel Hill has a lot of trees. Coming from someone from New Zealand, this was probably the very first thing I noticed upon arriving here.

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Trees, trees and more trees

The campus is beautiful, the weather is great and the people are very friendly. There is a reason Chapel Hill is known as “The Southern Part of Heaven.”

Frat Parties

I was invited to my first frat party literally on my first day, and it did not disappoint. Being the weekend before class, the parties were packed and the nightlife was buzzing. There were red cups, beer pong and even a mechanical bull in the garden. I don’t want to say it’s like the movies but it was certainly close. Even if you’re not particularly big on parties, I highly encourage you to at least check it out. Frats play a huge role in the social life of American universities since most undergraduates are too young to go into bars and clubs. Also, it’s a really good way to meet people. Americans will show a huge interest in you if you have a foreign accent and if you’re open, you will have no problem making new friends.

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One of the many Frat houses at UNC

FallFest

Prior to the first week of class, UNC hosts an event called FallFest. Pretty much, it’s like the club’s expo on steroids. It was held on one of the sports fields and had a countless number of tents, stall, and clubs encouraging us to join. More importantly, there was free stuff to gain. I snagged a free bag, t-shirt and completely stuffed myself with good food. FallFest was a great showcase of what life at UNC is like.

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FallFest!

Orientation

Following the weekend, all exchange students had to attend a mandatory orientation. The orientation ran through most of the day and comprised of informative speeches on UNC life and instructions on what we had to do regarding accommodation, meal plans, banking, visa, and health insurance. The day was broken up by a lunch break and even a solar eclipse. There was also an ice cream social following the orientation giving me a great opportunity to meet fellow exchange students and future travel buddies. This is an extremely important event to attend because as great as it is to be friends with Americans, exchange students will want to travel and do more things. The orientation will be the only time where all exchange students are packed in the same building so make sure you meet as many as possible!

Wrapping Up

UNC has been great so far and I am very glad that I’ve picked it. Getting to where I am now was a long and tricky process, but trust me, it will all be worth it! I am incredibly excited to see what will be in store for me in the future. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and took my advice on board. If you ever need more information or if you just want to ask me questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at mrow430@aucklanduni.ac.nz.

If you want to see what I’m getting up to, then chuck us a follow on Instagram @matthew.rowe

Cheers,
Adobe Spark (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USA: Out West

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study overseas at over 125 partner universities in over 25 countries. One of the most popular destinations to study abroad is the United States. Our American partner universities are all diverse and renowned institutions, providing students with equally as diverse cultural experiences and academic opportunities. In this post (the final of three), we hear from past exchange students who have studied in the Western regions of the United States as part of the Auckland Abroad program. Our partner universities in the West are The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Arizona, The University of Washington, The University of California (9 campuses) and The University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“While America isn’t the cultural opposite of New Zealand like some other exchange programs, culture shock still hit me. From the super-sized food, to realizing Greek life isn’t just in movies and perhaps even that America might just be the greatest country in the world, at least for the college experience anyway.” – Josh Barkle, Rutgers University

The University of Hawaii at Manoa
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“Complimentary to the picturesque views and unreal settings visitors achieve on their instagrams, I would encourage observing the local ways, Hawaii has a huge culture of giving. Speak to any Aunty or Uncle on the street and they will be sure to talk story and share their views. The experience allowed me an insight to culture, values, landscapes, and attitudes of not only the Native Hawaiians, or kānaka maoli, but also with the rest of the world.” – Darryl Chin, University of Hawaii at Manoa

“Looking back, the highlight of my exchange would developing more of an adventurous spirit. From going on 4 hour hikes up Hawaii’s tallest mountain at 2:30am just to witness the sunrise and see the entire island to vertical vine climbing bare footed up mountains to get to secret waterfalls to just catching a random bus anywhere and exploring, I learnt that there is so much to see when you’re willing to get out and find it. During my time in Hawaii I also developed a stronger appreciation for nature and its beauty.” – Serene Timoteo, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Arizona
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“The University of Arizona is situated in the metropolitan area of Tucson, a city baking under the desert heat and located less than 100km from the United State-Mexico border. The city might not win any ‘most beautiful city’ award, however the surrounding mountain ranges – serving as the city’s backdrop – are the reason I fell for this desert city. Waking up every day and seeing the Santa Catalina Mountains from our room always brighten my morning and on my last day in Tucson the mountain bid me farewell with its first snowy cap of the season. The question then is why I choose the University of Arizona from all the other institution on offer. Apart from its amazing sunny weather, which is a real change from Auckland, the university also offers consistently high ranked Geology and Anthropology department. During my short time in Arizona, I have shook hands with a researcher involved in the Mars Rover Project, been taught by professors who had worked at the African Rift Valley and the Himalayas. I’ve also been tutored by an academic regarded high on his field, as well as shared a laugh with someone who had gone to host a BCC documentary.” – Alexis Salting, The University of Arizona

“The campus at University of Arizona is absolutely beautiful and there is a strong sense of community around the place which I really liked.  The university system was quite different to Auckland, as there were smaller, more constant loads of work and teachers were much more interested in getting to know their students personally.  It was hard to get used to at first but I actually came to prefer it.” – Katie Arnold, The University of Arizona

The University of Washington
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“UW is located in the ‘University District’, and the many restaurants and sports bars that line the streets make it a student friendly town that is constantly full of excitement and buzz particularly on Friday nights and during the NFL seasons when the Seattle Seahawks play. UW’s FIUTS (The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students) organized many programs and events,  anging from orientation with tours of the enormous campus to trips over weekends and breaks, which made settling in and getting involved on campus easy. These events gave me the chance to meet my fellow exchange students, and it was with some of them that I explored the city and travelled together. From eating Pho on “the Ave” after classes to exploring surrounding neighbourhoods and travelling to other States, we have proved that it is possible to create meaningful connections with people from all over the world.” – Jane Khoo, The University of Washington

“UW offers a huge amount of academic support to assist you with your studies – the subject librarians and TA’s made my life a lot easier! UW also has subject specific writing centres, in which tutors will help by working one-on-one on your paper with you. UW also offers lots of service learning opportunities, in which students can take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to real life situations and organizations. I volunteered in several elementary schools, an environmental organization and a non-profit. These service learning activities gave me a way of engaging with the wider Seattle community and I would thoroughly recommend them. UW has hundred of clubs- everything from yoga to touch rugby, running, rock climbing, human rights, young Democrats/Republicans, sorority/frats, science, arts… the list goes on. Seattle is surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty- you are close to the Cascades and the Olympics—on a sunny day you will be able to see amazing Mount Rainier. Don’t believe the hype – the rain truly isn’t that bad!!” – Sophia Rive, University of Washington

The University of Texas at Arlington
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“Everything was big, really big, and bold. Texans are so warm, welcoming and so proud of their state and country, meaning they are very happy to share it with you. We’d often go out two-stepping (dancing) with friends at Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest Honky Tonk located in the Stock Yards in Fort Worth. Most nights there was a live country band playing. The place would be packed with people of all ages wearing cowboy boots, hats, rhinestone bootleg jeans and pretty white dresses, and a disco ball style saddle would rotate over the dance floor. You’d feel like you were in a different world. The food was incredible – the Tex-Mex was the best. My friends quickly learnt that I was always in the mood for tacos, so wherever we went, we were trying out the new Mexican and Artisan taco joints. My classes on campus were great. The teaching style was very interactive and the lecturers were much more personable which I appreciated. I took freshman US history and politics classes which helped me to understand the country on a much deeper level.” – Nicola Milne, The University of Texas at Arlington

“It was only once I arrived in Arlington that I was made aware of the fact that the city is the largest city in the USA with no public transport what-so-ever – a fact that they are strangely proud of. So I would encourage any students thinking about going to Arlington to make friends with people with cars quickly, or discover the wonder of 24/7 delivery Chinese food! Having a foreign accent was an easy way to quickly make friends, but living in an on-campus apartment with 3 other roommates definitely helped to make friends for life. The apartment also cost about half of what you would expect to pay for a four-bedroom apartment in Auckland. The cost of food was similar, although for non-processed, no preservatives, organic food… or just food that isn’t junk food, it got a bit more pricey. Texans I discovered are extremely patriotic about their state; treat football as a religion and their colleges like a cult; claim to have the best Mexican food (which they probably do); and also love their air conditioning – so much so that I had to bring a sweater to each lecture theater in the middle of their 40°C summer.” – Kelsey Muir, The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of California
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University of Auckland students can be placed at any of the University of California’s nine campuses throughout the state. These campuses are Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego and Berkeley.
Here are some thoughts from students on a few of those campuses!

“San Diego is an amazing place to live. While on some days it’s hot and humid, it is sunny with clear on most days and during my entire trip, it only rained twice (and according to the locals, even that was odd). On campus, there was always something to do. Whether it’s surfing at the beach, smores by the bonfire, hiking, pool movie nights, or carving pumpkins on Halloween. But one of the most memorable things I did was attending a hackathon called SD Hacks where I met 3 other students, formed a team and worked on creating an innovative mobile app for 36 hours straight with 1000 other students at a convention center. On weekends during the semester, we were full-time students busy attending lectures from leading professors in their field, finishing assignment and group projects but when it came to weekends, we were tourists busy exploring cities and making memorable experiences.” – Hayden Do, The University of California at San Diego

“UCSB has a beautiful campus right on the Pacific Ocean. Bicycle and skateboard lanes dictate the flow of students around the campus, and the small community is stuck in an eternal summer. Extracurricular clubs make it easy to meet new people and to get out of the town in the weekends. As students we were able to access a shed stocked with all camping and outdoors equipment to gear up for weekends away. My favourite parts of my exchange while attending UCSB came through this well-kept secret. The nicest parts of California are definitely not the big cities, but the ‘spaces between’. The resources at UCSB allowed students to get to the spaces between. The shorter UCSB quarter was not synonymous with my classes being easier. The education system at Santa Barbara was very different than in New Zealand – attendance is very strongly incentivized, homework is due weekly, and there is no real opportunity to slack throughout the entire quarter. This system took a long time to get used to, but now that I reflect on my time abroad I would say that I prefer this approach” – Brett Sceats, The University of California at Santa Barbara

“The campus is stunning, with beautiful gardens and mature trees throughout the neo-classical architecture. The caliber of teaching at the University was exceptional. Professors were world leaders in their fields, some with Nobel Prizes to their name. Professors were enthusiastic in teaching their chosen field, bringing to life even the driest of civil engineering technical detail. Every class had a student graduate instructor who provided extremely valuable feedback and tips for homework assignments and test. The semester in Berkeley was 15 straight weeks with no holidays in between, so I endeavored to travel most weekends. I covered most of California via road trips with American and exchange student friends and was very fortunate to stay with many American families. These opportunities really provided me with an insight into Californian culture and enabled me to see America from a less tourist like perspective. When I wasn’t travelling in the weekends, I was busy windsurfing with the Cal Sailing Club and exploring San Francisco City.” – David Mountfort, The University of California Berkeley

“I was able to quickly make new friends through international orientation, church fellowship and other clubs and activities. UC Davis is a really beautiful school. The campus is gigantic and filled with grass to sit on and trees to rest under. It has very impressive facilities, from its football stadium to its performing arts theatre. One of the nicest places to go was the arboretum, a riverside walkway filled with all kinds of plants and trees. The food there was pretty good too. Everything you’ve heard about American food is true; it’s cheaper and bigger. There are also an unhealthy amount of all you can eat and buffets. So while I was there, I was pretty much stuffing myself. Thankfully, there were also many opportunities to do physical activities. Unlike the University of Auckland, most students at UC Davis live quite close to campus. As a result, it was much easier for people to gather together and organize a time to play a game or sport over there than it is over here. Consequently, I was able to try many new sports and activities, such as volleyball, spikeball and swing dancing.” – Karl Zhu, The University of California Davis

USA: East and South

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study overseas at over 125 partner universities in over 25 countries. One of the most popular destinations to study abroad is the United States. Our American partner universities are all diverse and renowned institutions, providing students with equally as diverse cultural experiences and academic opportunities. In this post (the second of three), we hear from past exchange students who have studied in the Eastern and Southern regions of the United States as part of the Auckland Abroad program. Our partner universities in the East and South are The University of Maryland, The University of Virginia, College of William and Mary, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The University of Georgia and American University

Update: As of Semester 2, 2017 we are now partnered with The George Washington University in Washington DC!

“While America isn’t the cultural opposite of New Zealand like some other exchange programs, culture shock still hit me. From the super-sized food, to realizing Greek life isn’t just in movies and perhaps even that America might just be the greatest country in the world, at least for the college experience anyway.” – Josh Barkle, Rutgers University

The University of Maryland
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“The moment I stepped onto the College Park Campus, I was met with a Campus that looked like it belonged in a magazine. I had my own room in a hall only a thirty second walk to the diner, which supplied all my meals. It was a huge hall with eight different ‘mini restaurants’ to choose from, including pizza and pasta stations, sandwich and salad stations and a make-your-own-waffle station. With three days jam-packed full of orientation events, the exchange students quickly formed friendships which grew closer and closer till it felt as though we had been friends forever. In my first week, I attended a ‘Pep Rally’ (as seen in many American films), an American Football game, and bore witness to a ‘flash mob.’ Over the next few months, I would attend stimulating lectures, join the circus that is students supporting their university sports teams and go on weekend excursions to the Niagara Falls, Toronto, New York (complete with watching a show on Broadway), Baltimore and Virginia. When I had an afternoon or morning free, I could take the metro for 20 minutes and find myself in the capital – Washington DC. Wandering around the Smithsonian Museums, spotting Obama at the White House and visiting famous monuments.” – Klara Klippel, The University of Maryland

The University of Virginia
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“The buildings of the University are stunning and one of a kind – it’s a World Heritage Site for a reason. Despite many of the buildings being in red brick, I found the grounds to be overwhelmingly green and full of foliage, and moving into the Fall, Charlottesville only gets prettier. While the University’s bus system does a really great job of getting you around Grounds to wherever you need to be, when you live in a place as beautiful and scenic as this, why take the bus?” – Christine Winspear, The University of Virginia

“I remember arriving in Charlottesville, Virginia and straight away, the University presence was extremely obvious in the town. I was surprised to see UVA banners at the airport, hanging in windows around town and logos even printed on the road! The University itself was beautiful; both the buildings and the grounds, and my first impressions were that UVA was something that you’d see in the movies. Everyone was so lovely and friendly in Charlottesville, and the fact that I was a New Zealander was a huge hit! From the moment I arrived until the moment I left, I absolutely loved America!” – Sarah Menzies, The University of Virginia

College of William and Mary
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“William and Mary is situated in the picturesque town of Williamsburg, which is one of the original English colonies that was settled on the Virginia peninsula. Because of this history, Williamsburg is always bustling with re-enactors, festivals and markets. As the second-oldest university in the United States, William and Mary is treated as a vital part of this historic community. William and Mary has a beautiful sprawling campus, scattered with colonial houses that have been converted to classrooms. The campus is always buzzing with activity and there are plenty of clubs to involve yourself with. Everyone is extremely welcoming and there is a strong school spirit that unites the student body.” – Elle Crump, College of William and Mary

“I was lucky enough to spend 5 months living abroad in Williamsburg, Virginia, while studying at the College of William & Mary Law School. Living in Williamsburg was surreal. Aside from looking like something out of a storybook, Williamsburg was a living museum, with a large part of the town dedicated to colonial re-enactment. Stepping into colonial Williamsburg really does feel like stepping back in time. William & Mary is historic in more ways than one. The Marshall-Wythe School of Law was founded by local Virginian Thomas Jefferson in 1779, and is the oldest law school still operating in the United States. As an American history buff, it was amazing to be studying somewhere that was so at the heart of American law and politics for so many years!” – Hannah Thomson, College of William and Mary

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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“UNC is a typical American college campus, with a beautiful tree lined quad, sports stadiums and an overwhelming amount of school spirit and pride. UNC is the perfect mix of academic study and extracurricular activity. I can promise that you will never be bored in Chapel Hill! The faculty is exceptional and the learning opportunities are once in a lifetime. UNC’s exchange organization, EASE is a great resource for incoming students, providing mentorship, networking and events throughout the year. My advice to any exchange student would be to make the most of every moment abroad. Partake in research projects, connect with faculty, volunteer and get involved – these opportunities not only enrich your experience abroad, but look great on a resume to future employers! My year at UNC was the best year of my life – you will be challenged, rewarded, welcomed and excited by all that being a member of the UNC family means. UNC Chapel Hill will become a part of you – once a Tar Heel, always a Tar Heel.” – Courtenay James, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

“Firstly, Chapel Hill in 400 words is a challenge. I could spend days talking to someone about what it means to be a Tar Heel. No word of a lie, if you choose Chapel Hill, you are on the door step of the best semester of your life. Chapel Hill is a small college town in North Carolina. UNC is the clear academic front runner on our list of options – if you’re after a truly southern college experience. The campus is stunning, everywhere you look there is beautiful scenery and a bunch of squirrels. The weather in this town is near perfect and the social scene is a lot of fun. Whether you are into country music, quirky bars or fraternity parties, there is something for everyone at UNC Chapel Hill.” – Joanna Appelman, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of Georgia and American University are two of our newest exchange partners.

8622872d36d0c3a0f4fa1146b909bb6cFounded in 1785, the University of Georgia is the nation’s oldest state-chartered university. History and tradition have special emphasis in the life of the University. With its strong academic majors, outstanding athletic programs, and extensive and varied campus life, the University attracts more students from every state in the nation and many foreign countries. The University of Georgia is located in Athens, a college town in Northeast Georgia within an hour of Atlanta.

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American University
is located in Washington DC, 20 minutes from the center of the city.  Students are active citizens both on and off campus. Studying in Washington DC places students at the heart of US history and politics. With highly ranked schools and colleges and internationally recognized faculty, AU offers a balance between class time and career-advancing experience in Washington, D.C., and beyond. Its students, among the country’s most politically active, distinguish themselves for their service, leadership, and ability to rethink global and domestic challenges and opportunities.

USA: Midwest and Northeast

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study overseas at over 125 partner universities in over 25 countries. One of the most popular destinations to study abroad is the United States. Our American partner universities are all diverse and renowned institutions, providing students with equally as diverse cultural experiences and academic opportunities. In this post (the first of three), we hear from past exchange students who have studied in the Midwest and Northeast regions of the United States as part of the Auckland Abroad program. Our partner universities in the Midwest and Northeast are Indiana University (Law Only), Northeastern University, Penn State University (Engineering Only), The University of Connecticut, Rutgers University and Stony Brook University,

“While America isn’t the cultural opposite of New Zealand like some other exchange programs, culture shock still hit me. From the super-sized food, to realizing Greek life isn’t just in movies and perhaps even that America might just be the greatest country in the world, at least for the college experience anyway.” – Josh Barkle, Rutgers University

Indiana University
5475689_FelicityEllis_IndianaUniversity_1165_03“My host city (Bloomington) is very much a University town. This meant that when I arrived before the start of class, there was no one around. I was shocked at the beauty of the campus, but found myself very lost within it for the first month or so. When class began, and the University started humming with people, I knew I had made the right decision.” – Felicity Ellis, Indiana University

“The law school’s orientation over two days was full of helpful tips from enrolling in classes, to learning about $2 Tuesdays at a local bar, to helping me meet two people who became my closest friends during my time at IU. As the weeks drew on I realised quickly how easy it was to fall in love with IU and Bloomington. The people are friendly and passionate, professors are interested and engaging and campus life is always exciting. Despite being a small college town, Bloomington always had something going on and the law school had a great social life. It had a great selection of international food, nightlife, sporting, musical and theatrical events. IU has a world class music school and I was able to attend my very first opera. Indiana also lives and breathes basketball, and Bloomington and IU deep in Hoosier Country, is no different.” – Jemimah Rebello, Indiana University

Rutgers University
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“College in the US was a completely unique experience compared to University in New Zealand, the style of learning is very different, and there is a much greater focus on in classroom learning and interaction with the teachers than on readings and self-driven learning. Living in a college town was an incredible experience, there is always something happening and something to do, and the food is cheap and delicious which is always a plus. The accommodation at the college was excellent, I was housed in a nice apartment near the main campus with another exchange student from Australia and 2 regular Rutgers student who really helped me acclimatize to life at the school and get the most out of my time at the college.” – Shay Webster, Rutgers University

“In terms of Rutgers, I could not have asked for a more welcoming and engaging experience. The university was very accommodative and due to the size of the university, offered a plethora of courses with far more depth than I have experienced previously. I was primarily interested in finance, and the University offered specialised courses that would not be offered elsewhere. Given the smaller course sizes, it offered a more personal lecturer/student setup which I definitely enjoyed. Many people ask: “why did you chose Rutgers?” The simple answer is Google maps. Rutgers is literally a short train ride from downtown Manhattan and provided an easy base to go explore the East Coast of America.” – Thomas Smith, Rutgers University

Penn State University
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“The courses at Penn State are very well taught, one of my professors was a former Boeing engineer. It was great to learn from somebody with that kind of industry experience. All the other professors were good as well, they all set aside time for students and due to the small class sizes in America can give more individual attention to each student.” – William Cran, Penn State University

“I was involved in many clubs/societies at Penn State such as Lion Tech Rocket Labs, Aero Design club, 3D printing club, Engineers without borders, Project PAWS and THON. All these commitments kept me very busy and involved with the university whist helping me meet more people faster. Having exposure into the engineering industry I developed a passion in the aerospace field. Having found my career interest at Penn State has given me the drive to push myself and put in the extra effort where needed to ensure I follow this pathway. To me, finding this kind of passion is priceless because it gives me a general direction of where my future is going.” – Tharaka Munidasa, Penn State University

Northeastern University
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“In general, Northeastern University had a very different teaching style than I was used to at Auckland – classes of around 30 people, with Professors who took an active interest in your ideas and were marked largely on participation. There was a much larger range of papers (or what they call courses) which meant that I really enjoyed the stuff I was learning. I felt I gained more general knowledge from this, and thus was better prepared for ‘finals’ week, in mid-December” – Emma Rennie, Northeastern University

“My courses at Northeastern were superior, I had small class sizes, and it felt very personal. It was primarily coursework, presentations, and in class tests; only one of my classes had an exam. I was quite involved in my extracurricular activities on campus, particularly with the entrepreneurship club, where I became friends with many of the executive committee and the fashion and retail club, where I even spoke at one of their panel discussions as a panellist! Life on campus was fast, everyone is constantly in a hurry, and initially it was freezing, but as long as you layered up, you were fine. The campus also became pretty easy to navigate within a week or two, and people helped if you asked!” – Devrath Soni, Northeastern University

The University of Connecticut
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“The university is located in Storrs, Connecticut, an extremely small town with the University making up most of its population. This was a vast contrast with Auckland University’s city campus.The campus is beautiful and extremely picturesque in the snow. Although quite isolated, this meant that students tended to stay on campus meaning there was always something to do and people to hang out with. Being located on the east coast of the US made travelling to places such as New York and Boston easy and I was lucky to travel to both multiple times over the year. Everyone at UConn had mad school spirit and the pride of being a Husky was infectious making all sporting events super exciting.” – Lisa Hoshina, The University of Connecticut

“In order to make the most of the experience I made sure I fully participated in college life both academically and socially. Living in a dorm was a new experience but one that I thoroughly enjoyed and now have a great bunch of mates over in America. There are many subtle cultural differences that you notice that remind you, you are not at home but when embraced can result in an amazing time. College sport is highly followed in America, especially in Connecticut as there are no pro teams so the UConn teams are supported not just by students but also people from around the state. Going to a basketball game on campus was like nothing I had ever experienced before, with 12000 people including a large student section fully behind their team. Staying in Connecticut also meant that I was close to Boston, New York and Canada. This allowed me to take weekend trips to these places an experience big city America and see the sights. While at UConn I met up with many other exchange students from all over the world, who like me wanted to travel and experience America, resulting in you never being alone when travelling around.” Andrew McQueen, The University of Connecticut

University of Stony Brook
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“The campus not only includes facilities to host lectures, research laboratories and classrooms, but also several housing buildings, activity centers, gyms and food courts. There are internal buses that run throughout campus, making it easily accessible for students. Additionally, the train station is also located on campus which makes it easier to travel, something I tried to make the most of during weekends. The exchange students got the opportunity to live in apartments on campus, where we flat with other students and share a common kitchen and bathrooms. Although New York is traditionally known for its high cost of living, but I felt that the semester cost for accommodation was reasonable, and around about what you would expect when you compare it to Auckland. Getting used to the lifestyle of living on campus as opposed to going back home every day was initially challenging. However, the company of great people, the wonderful facilities at Stony Brook and all the weekend travelling made my stay loads of fun.” – Dheeraj Gopalakrishnan, University of Stony Brook

“Going overseas lets you become a child again. Everything is new and amazing. Doing the grocery shopping overseas is no longer a chore. It’s more of an eye opening experience; seeing new foods and taking in the culture of your current whereabouts. New York City truly has it all; the magnificent skyline, the boutique eateries, and the high-class fashion stores. E everything you can imagine, you will find in NYC. On long Island, a short two-hour train ride out of the city, is Stony Brook University (SBU) my adopted home for my Semester abroad.  SBU doesn’t feel like a University, it’s more like a small community. Each week there are numerous events to get students immersed in College life. Orientation involved a day where we were gorged on food and met all the other exchange students from around the world. This was a diverse group and I encourage you to meet as many of these people as you can, as they will be your family during your time overseas.” – Andrew Luey, University of Stony Brook