First off, make sure to give yourself an ample amount of time to travel to New Zealand prior to the beginning of classes. I gave myself three weeks and could have used more time honestly. If you're looking for a great touring company that will provide you with great sightseeing opportunities, adrenaline activities and tramping (hiking) stops check out Wild Kiwi.
If you want to travel solo, New Zealand is a great place to do so. Public transportation is a breeze and in my personal opinion hitchhiking is safe, preferably with a buddy. Dispersed throughout New Zealand are affordable hostels and backpackers where you meet the best of people, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and engage in conversation with fellow travelers, you won't regret it.
Now for the school part, compared to my personal experience back home I would say the class sizes, academics and grading scale vary drastically. Classes at Lincoln are very small which can be good and bad, the teachers get to know you and will go out of their way to help but once they know you're international, they will pick on you (not in a bad way). I've also noticed that academically the classes are a wee bit more intense in the sense they go into greater detail. A personal struggle is that I do not come from a farming background whereas the majority of students at Lincoln do and I felt as if I was way behind in both my nutrition and dairy class going into the class. In saying this, with plenty of readings provided by the professors and speaking to the lecturers following class, I was able to catch up. The classes are extremely educational and are taught by intelligent professors (Jim-Nutrition & Pablo-Dairy). Lecturers teach so you understand the content and can use it practically following university, not just to pass the class. For my university back home (Colorado State University) my grades from Lincoln come back as either pass or fail. The grading scale at Lincoln is unlike that of CSU's. The grading scale is such as; 100-90=A+ 89-85=A 84-80=A- 79-75=B+ 74-70=B 69-65=B- 64-60=C+ 59-55=C 54-50 C- all considered passing with anything lower being a failing grade. Although this sounds extremely easy, there are on average only a total of four grades in the grade book, each assignment heavily weighted.
Tips/things you should know
- If you're flatting on campus, Farm Road flats are the way to go. They are four bedroom flats with a common living room, kitchen, bathroom and washer/dryer. They are only a 7-9 minute walk from the center of campus.
- DO NOT wait until the last week to finish large assignments
- Travel on the weekends when possible, busses are fairly priced. Cars are reasonably cheap but depending on how long you stay it may not be worth it (petrol, maintenance, WOF, Reg.)
- Get involved (Tramping and Climbing Club, weightlifting, LUSA)
- Don't be afraid to ask for help, there are plenty of resources provided by the school
- Fashion is not a big deal in New Zealand, comfort is. I only wore make-up and got dressed up a handful of times when we went into town. With saying this, the university does put on dance so make sure to bring at least one semi-formal outfit.
- Lincoln is farther from the city center than I expected (1:15 by bus and 25-30 by car). In the lincoln township, there are the necessities such as a grocery store, a few pubs, a small pharmacy, a small police station, a post office, a hardware store, 2 hairdressers and a handful of restaurants.
- Everyone goes out of Wednesday since that's when students get their money from the government. The Famous Grouse and The Yaldy are the closest pubs to Lincoln. The drinking age in New Zealand is 18 but they are very strict with this so be sure to bring your passport or get a Kiwi Access card, you can NOT use your driver's license from outside of New Zealand. When you're purchasing alcohol they check everyone's ID so make sure everyone has appropriate identification on them.
Last thing to be said, although it is a ton of fun and I would highly recommend studying abroad you do have to study in order to pass.