Olivia - University of Auckland

B Science
Semester 2, 2022


I wanted to spend my last semester doing something different and exciting. I also thought exchange was a great opportunity to travel and learn life skills that are applicable after University.

Personal development

I made some amazing friends who were either also on exchange or from completely different backgrounds. I did some challenging hikes in terrain and conditions I’d never experienced before and planned a few weeks of travelling before coming home which also helped me gain skills in organisation and building initiative. This experience has made me more confident in meeting people and not being afraid to try new things.

Academic development

I enjoyed exploring a new university campus and joining different clubs to the ones I was a part of at home. My host University was still struggling with Covid cases, meaning there were still some restrictions in place and would effect class attendance. I got Covid at one point and couldn’t go to my classes but my lecturers were very understanding and class content was easy to access online. The workload was about the same as UQ.

Professional development

I feel more resilient in challenging situations and have improved my problem solving in new or stressful situations. I’m also more confident when meeting people and building new friendships and relationships. I developed better organisation and decision making skills which I’d previously struggled with through planning hikes and other trips.


I was still receiving student payments from Centrelink which helped me cover my rent but I’d also worked two jobs the semester before to build up my savings. I spent $215/week on rent, about $80/week on food, and a few dollars a week on public transport. I used up my savings for weekend trips and for a three week trip at the end of my experience which was quite costly. My advice is to definitely have savings for travelling during your exchange as these times were the highlights of my experience.


The funding was extremely helpful as it went towards weekend trips which allowed me to experience parts of New Zealand that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. These were the highlights of my time abroad and make me want to go back to New Zealand to see more of it.


I joined a few house share groups on Facebook and messaged people who posted places that I was interested in. One of the groups was for university students and I ended up finding a house share with other uni students which was reasonably close to campus. The accommodation was an old student village and was a five person flat. The flat was a 20 minute walk to campus through a park which was great and five people was a good number to live with. The rent was more expensive than I wanted to pay but luckily I got rent assist from Centrelink which covered most of the cost. My advice is that it’s worth taking a little longer to find the right accommodation for you even if it means staying an extra week or two in temporary accommodation. I only gave myself a week to find somewhere which worked ended up working out but there were some better places which were posted a week or so later which would’ve been a better fit.


I did a four day hike by myself which was a great challenge and was in a really beautiful area. I did a two week road trip around the South Island of New Zealand which was really fun and exciting. I met some amazing people during my exchange and I made friends that will last long after this experience.

Advice/Top tips

It’s worth working and saving hard beforehand so you can really enjoy new experiences and going on trips. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make mistakes because they’re all learning experiences, some of which can improve you as a person.