I am currently an exchange student from Lancaster University (England) studying at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ) for 1 year.
Firstly - New Zealand is an amazing and beautiful county and I really love living in Wellington, the city is small so it is easy to find your way around as well as plenty of things going on each week!
Course/University experience: sadly the University is the one part I am really not enjoying about my year abroad. It may be due to my course choices (I am taking mostly 300-level biology and chemistry courses) but I find it very difficult and stressful. The chemistry courses here are very broad and cover a whole range of topics, for example one module is devoted to physical chemistry whereas at my home uni the content would be split into different modules eg. thermodynamics and computational chemistry. This has meant that the course content does not overlap very well and I have been left with gaps in my knowledge when trying to complete assignments here. Furthermore I find the University very assuming - you are not told about things and are expected to magically know. For example - all lectures after 1pm start at 10 past the hour despite appearing as on the hour in the timetable. The timetable is also incomplete and only contains lecture times - it does not update for tutorials or labs. There was also no introductory talk on how to check items out of the library.
Societies: There aren't all that many societies at Victoria and the one I did try to join (canoeing) -the other members weren't actually students at all!
Accommodation: I am currently living in Uni Hall, accommodation provided by the University. I chose this option as I thought it would be easier than having to sort out private accommodation from overseas. Considering this accommodation is aimed at International student's I'm not sure the location is very good. It is a short 10 minute walk to the university (which is great!) but very far from the supermarket/food shops - a 40 minute trek up and down 90m
with heavy shopping (the only supermarket you don't have to drive too is very small!). The public transport does not bring you close enough to the accommodation. Furthermore the accommodation is very expensive for what it is and the rooms are very disproportionate, I am paying $240 a week for a small, dingy room whilst my flatmate pays the same for a room half the size with loads of sun - not very fair! Maintenance response is also poor - I reported my heater 2 weeks ago and it still hasn't been fixed, and the fire-alarms which ran out of the battery the second week of being here have only just been fixed 10 weeks later. The houses here are also very cold/bad at retaining heat as they are not insulated and only have single glazed windows. The provided kitchen equipment is also pretty poor - most of it was bought by previous residents! The events hosted by Uni Hall are excellent however and are technically free (if you forget about the $150 non-optional activity fee paid at the start of the year). It is also very difficult to meet actual New Zealanders! Uni Hall creates a community of International students with little chance to meet or socialise with actual Kiwis. The wifi - you only get 2GB per person per day! So my house of 5 gets 10GB in total each day. The fact that the WiFi is limited is a bit ridiculous - especially in a house designed for internationals where most want to call home each day! We run out of WiFi most days meaning trying to work in the evenings is both pointless and frustrating.
Food: Food is very expensive here, especially fruit, veg and dairy products. Markets are available on Sundays to purchase cheaper fruit and veg but it is very season dependent!
Public Transport: Poor depending on where you live - no bus links from town to my accommodation.
City: There is so much going on in Wellington! Loads of great places to eat (if you can afford it!) and many cute and unique shops to explore. There is a craft market on Saturday on the water-front that I love and night-markets selling food Fridays and Saturdays.
Despite the negatives I have enjoyed my time here so far overall and I am definitely glad I came. It really depends on how focused you are on grades and doing well. My home university will reduce all the grades I receive here by 10% so I need to work extra hard to ensure my average doesn't slip - this has ruined my experience somewhat.
Hope this has helped and hasn't put you off!