As an international exchange student from the United States, coming to New Zealand to study has been an amazing experience itself. But, being able to learn right in the city of Auckland, New Zealand's most populated city, has given me insight and a better understanding of the world around me. I was initially struck by the diversity of Auckland. There are so many cultural centers which allowed me to explore certain aspects of kiwi life.
AUT University is a very unique place to explore Māori culture; a distinctive part of New Zealand culture. The first weekend of school, I attend the Noho Marae weekend and learned songs, stories and met people from all over the world. This experience was special in the sense that it united many different cultures and united us as a family or "whanau". Through this weekend, I realized a lot of what makes New Zealand special. There is a strong community aspect associated with its people and a strong sense that they care for you and welcome you.
The classes at AUT University focus more on you being self-motivated as a student. Many of the grades for the courses are weighed in large chunks. For example, one assessment can we weighed 40 percent of your grade and the other 60 percent. This means throughout the semester you have to stay on top of your studies, but at the same time have the freedom to plan your schedule as you please. In this way, I think many of the papers teach you responsibility, more than anything else. Professors are there to act as guides, but the students do a large chunk of the work.
With that said, the best thing about studying abroad in New Zealand is seeing some of the most incredible sights. Outside of the city there are so many breathtaking landscapes and extreme things to do. Every weekend you can potentially plan a trip somewhere. Whether it's a hike or bungee jumping, these things are accessible by fairly cheap transportation options. It's just a matter of staying on top your studies.
The social scene at AUT University is only there if you want it to be there. Staying in your room all day will not allow you to meet new people. But, attending all of the available social events will probably introduce you to people and potentially friends. There aren't too many social events throughout the year, but there are a number in the beginning. So it is better to be social early on.
Living at the Wellesley Student Apartments has had its highs and lows. Since you live in a student housing situation, there will be administration that will deter you from doing certain things. But, there are still fun things to do like grocery bingo, where you have a chance to win free groceries. Also, it is such a luxury having your own room here. Living communally with four other flatmates is not bad at all, considering you have a shared kitchen, living room and bathrooms.