IFSA: Study Abroad Programs in New Zealand

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IFSA Students in New Zealand
IFSA Students in New Zealand

About

Top-notch academics meet exquisite natural beauty and Maori culture in New Zealand. Enjoy outdoor adventure by taking advantage of hiking, skiing, fishing, camping and river rafting opportunities throughout the country, or simply take a stroll through the famously beautiful countryside. New Zealand has plenty of urban excitement, too. From the vibrant capital city of Wellington to sophisticated Auckland to college-town Dunedin, New Zealand’s cities feature sports, entertainment, cultural attractions and lots to see and do. It’s no wonder Lonely Planet named New Zealand the top destination in the world two years in a row!

The flexibility of the New Zealand university system gives you a great selection of courses and subjects, as well as the opportunity to truly immerse yourself into the Kiwi culture.

Scholarships

IFSA Scholarships
IFSA Scholarships and Financial Aid

We believe that study abroad should be within reach of every student, so we offer a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities for all our participants.

Value
$500 - $2,500

Questions & Answers

Reviews

89%
based on 16 reviews
  • Academics 7.9
  • Support 8.8
  • Fun 8.4
  • Housing 8.4
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
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Caroline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA Dunedin, New Zealand

I had a wonderful experience studying in New Zealand with IFSA. From the time I opened an application, IFSA staff was so welcoming and answered all my questions. I felt comfortable every step of the way as there was always someone there to help me. The orientation was a great way to meet other students and get used to a new country before moving into flats. It was also a great way to adjust to the new time zone. My favorite part of the program was all the different trips we got to go on. Whether it was a volunteering trip to a nature reserve or an overnight cruise through doubtful sound, each trip allowed me to see so many beautiful parts of the country with a group of really supportive and excited students! IFSA really did everything to make my abroad experience as special as it could be and also worked to make my transition back to the US much easier. I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
If I had the experience to do this again, I would definitely travel more. I got to see a lot of the country but there are so many places to go in New Zealand that I feel like I didn't even make a dent! I really hope I get the chance to go back one day and see all the places that I couldn't make it to!
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Danielle
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying Abroad in NZ was Sweet As!

I spent my junior fall studying at the University of Otago in Dunedin through IFSA and loved every minute of it! I decided to go abroad at the last minute and knew no one else who was going to study in NZ, so I was a little nervous when I arrived in New Zealand to say the least. However, IFSA was so great in helping to handle housing and pickup from the airport, providing an orientation and monthly group excursions, and having support staff on campus and close by. Orientation was a really nice way to meet other abroad students before arriving to campus and helped me make some of my closest friends from abroad. In general, New Zealand is an incredible place that has such a rich environmental and cultural history where you can learn a lot both inside and outside the classroom. There are so many opportunities to go explore the country, whether it be through clubs, IFSA trips, or just a roadtrip with friends. Studying abroad in New Zealand was one of the best decisions of my life, so if you are debating whether or not to study abroad, please take a chance and DO IT!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take classes that you wouldn't normally take and take classes that will help you learn more about New Zealand and the Pacific Islands!
Also, be adventurous, be spontaneous, and go see NZ! The South Island is amazing and has so much to offer for every type of person, so get off out of the city every once in a while and go see the rest of the country!
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Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My Favorite Semester

I spent my sophomore spring semester abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. It was a phenomenal experience that I think about at least once a day. The country itself is so green, clean, and open once you got outside of the major cities. The cities, though, still were incredibly eco friendly with green spaces and were safe so that you could walk around and feel safe. The nightlife was fun as well, and I often spent my afternoons after class walking throughout Auckland streets and discovering hidden gems. Of course, I could not have enjoyed my time in New Zealand nearly as much without the support of IFSA. I never felt isolated or alone with the help and support of my onsite coordinator. We had weekly catch up meetings with snacks and coffee to debrief any troubles we had during the week, whether it be midterms or homesickness. My IFSA group was incredibly close knit, so we often spent nights out or days studying together too; but our relationships were definitely enhanced due to our united IFSA experience. After all, when we first arrived, we all arrived nervous and vulnerable. However, after our 3 day orientation in the middle of nowhere, we had grown quite close through shared meals, games, and group activities.
The University of Auckland is a top notch institute to study at. I took my professional electives there, and was lucky to be able to take classes in a wide range of subjects (public health, history, business, and environmental science). I highly condone taking a pacific studies course to fully understand the origins of New Zealand.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment in studying abroad is getting on the plane. After saying goodbye to your family, suddenly, you realize just how alone you are. Even with prepping ahead of time with help from the IFSA staff, nothing can quite prepare you for when you are on a 12 hour flight with no clue how your next 5 months will go. However, stepping off the plane, and being welcomed with open arms by the IFSA crew made all of my worries go away.
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Maddie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Study abroad with IFSA in Wellington!

I would highly recommend studying abroad with IFSA Butler in Wellington, New Zealand. The IFSA staff is incredibly supportive. Wellington is a fun, lively city surrounded by beautiful places to visit/hike/camp. I lived in international student housing with a girl from South Korea and a girl from Italy, right next door to some of my best friends from the IFSA program, which was great. Overall, I had a fantastic time abroad in New Zealand!

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Anastasia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Te Aotearoa Wairua: The New Zealand Spirit February 04, 2018

I learned so much from this experience abroad. I learned about myself as well as New Zealand and the States. I learned about the New Zealand night sky as well as quite a bit about the political system (perks of being there during the election season!) I learned about myself and my values since I needed to be aware of so much more than normal. I learned about New Zealand culture as well as other cultures such as those in European countries. More than just conventional New Zealand (or pākeha) culture, I also learned a lot about Māori culture, language, history, myths, and so much more! So yes, it was most definitely worthwhile!

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Gaia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Opportunity

Spending a semester in Dunedin through IFSA was wonderful. They take care of the housing through UniFlats so you are placed with other study abroad students who aren't necessarily through IFSA, as well as a Kiwi host. The Kiwi host is a student who attends the University of Otago, and is incredibly helpful in navigating the social and academic scene. My flatmates were amazing, I was able to meet some incredible people, and go on outstanding adventures. Many issues that other friends had with their study abroad experiences were not issues for me at Otago in Dunedin. I loved having a program that supported me, and I loved the staff. When reached out to, I found them to be very helpful; otherwise they stayed out of the lives of the students.

What would you improve about this program?
I remember on the group flight to NZ, many of us were at the gate but didn't know if we should be meeting as a group or not. The instruction did not come until we had arrived in NZ, but we all figured it out okay.
Sophie
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

IFSA-Auckland

Made many new friends, went on amazing trips through IFSA and independently. Went wine tasting, horseback riding on a Black sand beach, explored glow worm caves, went on hikes, took a spring break trip to Fiji, went jet boating, white water rafting, skiing, spent a weekend at an alpaca farm. I found a way to go sailing at least twice a week out of Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and made a ton of new friends that was too.

What would you improve about this program?
Thought the program held my hand a bit too much at the beginning- I would have liked to have been treated more like an adult.
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Robert
6/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Don't do what I did

I went to study abroad mostly so I could take courses in a more lenient grading system and have the grades transfer back to boost my GPA. My program mandated that I HAD to take 4 courses to count as a full time student, so that's what I did. I verified that my courses would qualify and carry over, and by the time the next term went around, I had both of those goals accomplished.

However, Christchurch is an absolutely depressing place to stay. The neighborhoods are lifeless, the majority of people you'll meet are as emotive as worker drones, and the most available source of fun comes from alcohol.

The rest of the islands are so much more interesting. Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, and Dunedin all offer so much more to see, hear, and do than Christchurch. It's great if you can take courses that'll count towards your degree back home (the grading system is so worth it), but don't take all upper division courses like I did. I sacrificed pretty much all of my free time just to study and it was a slog to go through.

What would you improve about this program?
The program itself is just fine. My critiques are largely on my poor decisions.
Response from Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

Dear Robert,
Thank you so much for taking the time to review your experience on the IFSA University of Canterbury program. I'm sorry to hear that your semester abroad wasn't quite what you hoped it would be. We would love to hear more about your concerns and how we can do better moving forward, so please don't hesitate to email us at [email protected] to start a conversation.
Best wishes,
Katherine

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Sydney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Ideal

Going to New Zealand was by far the best decision I've ever made. I made many of my own personal trips, and opted into the ones organized by IFSA-Butler. The IFSA sponsored events were so much fun, and we had a big group of friends by the end of the first few days! If you set out to explore as much as possible, you'll have a great time. Make sure you're open-minded and have a sense of adventure plus a love for the outdoors and it'll be great!

What would you improve about this program?
More communication about academics and tutorial sign ups.
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Juan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Have told all my friends that they need to visit NZ

If you love being outdoors and meeting friendly people, Dunedin is the place to go and IFSA is the program to go with. IFSA staff helped make the first few days in New Zealand a great experience and prepared us to succeed in our respective universities. Once at school IFSA maintained contact with all of us and provided exciting trips (boat cruise in Doubtful Sound) for everyone in the program to reconnect on. While I made many friends at Otago, I can say that the best ones were found within the group of students participating in IFSA.

What would you improve about this program?
I think there should be more ways for students within the program to reconnect during the school year. There are already weekly meetings, but the issue is that people get busy so it would be nice to have other options. What those other options would look like, I really cannot say. I know IFSA made the effort, but when you're there as a student there's just so much to do!
Sara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful experience in a beautiful country

I absolutely loved studying abroad in Wellington at Victoria University! IFSA made it easy to find housing, not always an easy feat in Wellington. We lived near the university but also in close walking distance of the city center. IFSA coordinated some great trips for us around New Zealand, making it easy for us to supplement our own travels. The country itself is so beautiful and full of great hikes, it’d be hard to go wrong. I’d love nothing more than to return one day.

What would you improve about this program?
More student say in when group trips are to make them on optimal weekends.
Default avatar
Riley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

University of Auckland with IFSA-Butler

This past semester was amazing from the beginning to the end. IFSA-Butler made the departure process simple and easy, which relieved a lot of potential stress right off the bat. Throughout the semester they scheduled excursions and weekly meet-ups that allowed us to explore parts of New Zealand that we might not have been able to otherwise (some of my favorites were white-water rafting, visiting Hobbiton, and seeing the geothermal pools). If we ever had any problems or questions we knew that there was an adviser right in Auckland (ours was Amanda, she is the coolest). I really loved the classes that I got to take at the University of Auckland. One of them was Kapa Haka, which is a form of Maori dance employed by the famous All-Blacks before each of their rugby games. I also got to take Introduction to Wine Science, which included a field trip to the nearby island Waiheke, known for its many vineyards. I made most of my friends through IFSA-Butler. Most of us were from different places in the US, and we ended up getting along great right off the bat. Almost every weekend we would travel to a different area of New Zealand. I didn't have much experience travelling before this, so it was nice to have a group of friends as well as IFSA-Butler for support. New Zealand is an amazing country and I'm so glad I got to study there!

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing I can think of.
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Aubrey
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Go to NZ with IFSA!

NZ was a dream, and I still can't believe it happened. IFSA really made it the awesome experience that it was with the amazing excursions and incredibly nice, helpful staff. People from other programs were always jealous to hear about all the things we were doing and how responsive our student coordinator was, and I felt bad that they didn't have as great a support system as we did. It was such an awesome semester, and I hope to go back someday (and I know I can reach out to the IFSA NZ staff members when I do)!

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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

So Glad To Have Gone

Learning about New Zealand was something that I knew I would do, but I never intended to actually fall in love with the country, and that couldn't have happened without the support of IFSA Butler. It was through this program that I studied abroad in Auckland, NZ, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the program itself. I felt supported the entire time, and if I ever needed anything, there were people whose actual job it was to help me out, and I loved knowing that.

What would you improve about this program?
UniLodge is kinda not the greatest place to live...
Default avatar
David
1/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Just don't.

I am the sole person that I have ever heard who had a genuinely horrible experience while studying abroad, and I had the displeasure of having this semester abroad at the University of Auckland. University accommodations are in pitiful conditions - I hope you enjoy creepy crawlers in your room, and bedbugs! Also, let me tell you the real truth about academics here. DO NOT come to New Zealand with the idea that grading is easier abroad. Every other person I know that has studied abroad has come to find this to be the case. It may be, however that may be everywhere outside of New Zealand. Read up on "Tall Poppy Syndrome" which New Zealanders fully embrace. The phrase "Cs get degrees" which we use in the US in a more joking way is a way of life in NZ. Cs are all the students expect so as not to be a "tall poppy," hence, the professors also feel the same way. You will not receive an A at this institution, you will barely get a B, BUT if your grades transfer as P/F then you're set, because everyone is guaranteed a C. The final thing I would like to point out is that New Zealand is a small country, the physical size of Colorado with the population of Kentucky. There is only so much to do in the country, and once you have run out of these things and you would like to explore "the region" you've got a minimum 4 hour flight and $800USD ahead of you.

Response from Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

We are very sorry to hear that your experience didn't live up to your expectations. We would love to have a follow-up conversation with you to chat about how we can better prepare students for the academic expectations in New Zealand. Please drop us a line at [email protected] at any time!

Interviews

Staff Interviews

About Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA)

The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1988. Our primary goal is to provide quality study abroad opportunities, plus academic and personal support services, for qualified North American undergraduates seeking to...