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Comparison of U.S. and NZ Education

Time December 6th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on Comparison of U.S. and NZ Education by

I have compared six different aspects of two education systems, the U.S. and NZ in this post. Compared below are no. of hours spent in classes, labs, writing lab reports, no. of students in a class, final exam’s percentage towards grades and no. of hours spent on assignments every semester at University of Auckland and Trinity University. These are only estimates based on averages that I have experienced. 

Comparison of Hours Spent in Class
No. of Students in a Class
Final Exam’s Weightage
Average Hours Spent on Assignments
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On Reflection of Study Abroad in New Zealand

Time December 6th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on On Reflection of Study Abroad in New Zealand by

New Zealand is a great place to be at and I am sure others who have been there will agree with me. N for New Zealand and N for Nature; New Zealand is Naturally beautiful. I am glad I chose New Zealand for my study abroad and got to see both North and South Islands, both of which are beautiful in their own aspects. Studying at a world class university which was also the nation’s best was a privilege but the experience was made memorable due to wonderful company of friends.

Everyone changes a little bit after their study abroad. For example, some become a “C” – just pass student from an “A” student while others change their status from “in a relationship” to “single”. I changed too, and by a lot. Gears shifted in my academic and social life. I went from a geek to party animal and my academic motivation to do well plummeted. For the first time, I spent more time basking in the park under the Sun than in the library under piles of books. I went to more bars and pubs in a semester than I had been in my whole life. I made more American friends and spent more time with Americans in New Zealand than I had in America itself. Most surprisingly of all, I got dreadlocks which drastically changed my appearance and attitude, both internally and externally.

I spent these five months happily during my study abroad. And I am thankful to my home and host universities plus study abroad program IFSA-Butler for this. If I were to study abroad again, I would want to change would be accommodation facilities. I stayed at Wellesley Student Apartments in Auckland and it was run like a tight security prison which was annoying and kind of ruined living experience. I would also want to live with people from different countries rather than all Americans as arranged by IFSA-Butler.

Also, I would want to study abroad independently instead of seeking support from a study abroad program like Butler because I want to arrange everything on my own and it will also be significantly cheaper. I am confident I can arrange everything on my own, just like other non-Americans who study abroad independently.

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Until Exams

Time October 26th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

Classes are over and exams don’t start until next week for me. This means I have a lot of time to either study for exams, travel around New Zealand more or just lie in the Sun and spend time at the beach. The first option is just so not-so-study-abroad like. The second option is costly and with all the two week tour of South Island I did (read my earlier posts), no more money left for more travel. So, basically all I have been doing couple past days is lying in the Sun in Albert Park which reminds me of Central Park of New York, especially when it’s bright and sunny and everyone is just lying and dozing off.
Sand castle made by anonymous architects. Photo: Digital Subway
I have also been occasionally checking out the beach, especially when the weather forecasts are friendly. After all, the beach is only 20 minutes away, a simple bus ride. I will let the pictures speak rest of the story.

Me at the beach in my fancy shirt. Photo by: Jonathon Feinmann
Franky Sowers showing off his acrobatic skills. Photo by: Digital Subway
Franky again. Photo by: Digital Subway
Auckland at sunset from Mission Bay Beach. Photo by: Digital Subway
People just chilling in the Sun in Albert Park. Photo by: Digital Subway

Fun times till exams start. I am going to Bay of Islands next weekend which means more beach time. Cheers. Will keep you all posted.
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The Best Day in New Zealand

Time October 11th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Yesterday was probably one of the best days I’ve had so far in New Zealand, full of surprises that is.
I woke up around noon with my friend’s text that reminded me of the rugby game in the afternoon between Auckland University and Engineers. Interestingly enough, my flatmate Frankie was playing for University while my Thermodynamics classmate Lucca was playing for Engineering Team. We were quite confused as to which team to support since both of them had one of our friends each. The winner was going to receive 500 dollars worth of beer at a bar. We were poised to be treated no matter which team won. We weren’t worried.
The day begun with a free bus ride from the university to Rugby stadium. And that included a free awesome T-shirt with an iconic New Zealand map imprinted on the front, a cougar mascot on the left arm and Tui logo at the back. We were all so happy to receive such an awesome T-shirt for free. On arrival, there was free hot dogs and vege patties for us. Just before the game began, we found out that we could receive free booze on showing the T-shirt we got for free on the free bus. We couldn’t ask for more. The game was very exciting. The final score was 20-19, with Engineers beating the University team by a small margin. We got to watch an exciting rugby game for free while drinking free booze, sporting a free T-shirt and not having to worry about how to get back since a free bus ride was waiting at the end of the game.
New Zealand’s map on the front of free T-shirt that we got. Photo: Digital Subway
Tui logo and see the Cougar icon on the left arm. Photo: Digital Subway
My friend Vikram jumping on the trampoline during Rugby game. Photo: Digital Subway
I wasn’t prepared to call it a day yet. My IFSA-Butler friend Mathieu had told me about the All Whites vs Honduras football game during the evening to be held in Auckland. For those of you who missed Fifa world cup games, let me remind you that All Whites is New Zealand’s football (or soccer depending on which continent you are reading this) team that played against Honduras during the actual world cup 2010. It was a shame that I could not go to South Africa to watch world cup football but I wasn’t going to miss this. No, the tickets were not free, but the transportation was. It was freaking one hour away by bus.
The game was an absolute bang for the buck, $42 (NZD) that we paid. It was more interesting than the world cup game itself. The fact that we had amazing seats with an amazing view added to the experience. And it was special for me because it was my first game at a stadium with more than 18,000 other spectators. All Whites had tall and strong built players while Honduras had swift, not-so-tall but skilled players. The game was competitive. The linesmen made a couple errors, benefiting All Whites, drawing cheers from supporters at home ground. The score was tied at 1-1 with one heading goals each. And then All Whites received a penalty at closing 90th minute. The stadium was bustling with energy with everyone standing, awaiting for the penalty to be converted into a goal. The ball hit the bar, bounced and was punched away by the goalie but was kicked back by an All whites player, sending it a little above the bar. All Whites maintained their unbeaten streak with the game ending in a draw.
All Whites vs Honduras at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland. Photo: Digital Subway
When I had woken up with the text in the afternoon, I had no idea my day was going be full of surprises and sporting excitement. I guess it’s all part of studying abroad that entails a lot of fun, relaxation, surprises and excitement when you expect it the least.
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Backpacking New Zealand

Time September 20th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | 2 Comments by

Backpacking is a big culture in New Zealand. In every city, you’ll see lots of backpackers hostels that provide cheap accommodation,  also cheap meals and even cheap drinks. I spent my past two weeks backpacking entire South Island. I started from Christchurch and went around South Island in a counter-clockwise loop covering places like Kaikoura, Nelson, Westport, Franz Josef glacier, Wanaka, Queenstown and then back to Christchurch. I also flew to Wellington and spent a couple days there. The best way to enjoy a country is to travel alone and that’s what I did. I traveled with legendary hop on-hop off Kiwi Experience tour bus and my journey was enriched with commentary all along as we went to places and looked outside at breathtaking scenery that changed drastically.

Inside glacier caves of Franz Josef Glacier

Just like US colleges have Spring breaks, at University of Auckland we have a two week long mid-semester break. Most study abroad students utilize this time to travel and get to know the country more. Some of my friends even left the country to go to Australia, Fiji or other far-flung islands like Cook Islands. The part that made my trip so wonderful and memorable was my crazy dreadlocks that I had gotten just two days before I began the trip. If you have not seen fresh dreadlocks, let me tell you, they look nothing like anything you have seen before. Fresh dreads have a natural tendency to stay erect, as if it wants to touch the sky. See a picture of my dreads below. And wherever I went, I got stares and lots of unsolicited attention. The fact that I went around carrying my DSLR camera with big lens and wearing sun glasses just made me look like a stereotpyical tourist. At several places people would tell me, “Hey, how’s your vacation going? Do you want something to smoke?” You know what I mean. I thanked them saying No and walked on.

My dreadlocks

My sick as dreadlocks.

I met lots of people just because of my hair and had tons of interesting conversations. You would not believe it but in some towns (more than one) someone would come to me and say I saw you in another town, the town that I had been to before. I just stood out in the crowd wherever I went. In Christchurch, I thought I was being followed when the guy walked up to me and said, “We were on the same plane, I recognize your hair.” These past two weeks were all about meeting new people and learning about their travel experiences. Some of the people who were traveling on the same Kiwi Experience tour bus had been traveling around the world since several months. And they had plenty of stories to tell.

Jumping in icy cold waters of Lake Rotoiti

If there is one place in New Zealand that is closest to Times Square of New York, it has to be Cuba Street in Wellington. There are plenty of benches on the street, you just sit there and see all kinds of people pass by. Fortunately, no vehicles are allowed so it’s only people. There’s a lot happening there and you’ll never be bored. The least favorite town of my trip probably was Westport, a coal mining town that smelled like burning coal. I was not feeling well and the smell of Carbon Monoxide made it worse. But overall, this 15 day long adventure was probably one of the most enjoyable days with lots of activities during which I took more than 800 pictures. Now I want to travel more, a motor-cycle tour of South America does not seem too far-fetched.

Cuba Street, Wellington

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Two Weeks of Crazy Adventure

Time August 30th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Studying abroad at University of Auckland has been great so far. I am not fond of large classrooms and big lecture theaters but hey, the course load is lower than that at my home university. It is also because it is finals that are really intense and so students can relax and take it easy till then. Besides studying and academics part, I have been able to socialize with so many people from all over the world. There are students who have come here for exchange from all over.
I decided to do something extra crazy while I am here, so I got dreadlocks the day before. One of my friends has amazing dreads and he along with other friends helped me get it. My hair looks so different now and I get unusual attention everywhere I go. I was walking on the streets yesterday and some guys outside a bar asked if I had some smoke. I laughed out and said I didn’t.

I am excited for the best part of studying in New Zealand: traveling during the two week mid-semester break. In a few hours, I am heading to South Island for two weeks. South Island of New Zealand has pristine landscapes, yes you’ve seen it in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Cameroon’s Avatar. I always wanted to travel independently in a foreign country and that wish has come to reality. I planned so that I will be touring the South Island on my own for two weeks. I am ready for this adventure to begin. I will update you all on this after I come back. Wish me good luck for a crazy adventure!
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Living in Auckland

Time August 2nd, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

If you have stumbled upon this blog still trying to figure out where to study abroad then, I am going to give you a brief idea of what it is to study abroad in Auckland, the biggest city of New Zealand.

First of all, I am studying abroad at University of Auckland and the university is located in the heart of the city. Think of New York University or even Columbia University to get a mental picture. Downtown is only a few minutes walk from the university. You could virtually walk to anywhere you might need to go. Grocery, 10/15 minutes, restaurants are all over, Subway and Starbucks are two minutes away and a National Bank Branch is situated within the university. Best of all, my residence halls are only three minutes walk from the university. What more could you ask for, right? This is definitely a welcome change for me, considering I used to study in Texas, where people hardly walk on the streets. Everyone drives. And I didn’t have a car so you can imagine how trapped I felt.

Well, you might ask: what are the student residence halls like? They are fully furnished university managed apartments. A total of five person lives in each apartment with a single bedroom each, a common living room/kitchen and two bathrooms. It is definitely the sweetest apartments you can hope for. I have posted pictures of the building, living room, kitchen and my bedroom. Each apartment has a refrigerator, microwave/oven and a heater/cooler. The floors are well carpeted. When I posted pictures of my apartment on facebook, the first comment was, “It looks like a freakin’ hotel and you call it a student apartment?”

wellesley student apartments

wellesley student apartments

However, there are a couple downsides to this apartment, honestly speaking. First, I wanted to live with people from all over the world. And we were told that we would be staying with Kiwis, Americans and other internationals. Guess what? All five people in our apartments came from the US for study abroad. There are no Kiwis. It’s nice to live with Americans but everyone feels that it would have been nicer to live with Kiwis and internationals. Second, the laundry facility is so unreliable, especially dryers. Dryers do not dry clothes properly. Last time, I did laundry, I had to operate dryer twice (6 bucks in total) and yet it did not dry a single drop off my clothes. Frustrated, I had to hang up all my clothes in bedroom. Third, it is managed by AUT (Auckland University of Technology) and I go to University of Auckland. This means that I cannot use the computers downstairs in the lobby or the wireless here. Also, several programs are free to AUT students but we have to pay to participate.

kitchen

wellesley student apartments

Anyway, Auckland city is rated as one of the best cities to live in, and rightly so. It is the largest city in New Zealand and also the most diverse. There are people from all over the world and you can get all kinds of food. Needless to say, nightlife is great since this is a large city and we are only minutes away from major pubs/bars. Drinking age is only 18 here. I know I have already gotten you excited. Another interesting observation I made was how less cops are present in this city. Even in downtown, I rarely spot any cops or hear wailing sirens from cop cars. Seems like Kiwis and tourists who come here are virtuous people. It’s been less than a month but I am certain the next couple months are going to be a fun filled one. I will keep you all posted.

view

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Kia Ora, Hello from Auckland, New Zealand

Time July 21st, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Kia Ora! Hello to you all!
My name is Purushottam. Wait what? Fine, you can call me Puru. I am studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand and my home university is Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. But I am originally from Nepal. You got it. I am (studying abroad)^2. I am an Engineering major and so forgive me for my use of maths here. Now you can stare at anyone who tells you everyone can study abroad except for Engineering majors.
There must be a reason why IFSA-Butler Orientation in New Zealand is rated one of the highest among all its programs. There is. The amazing food and accommodation that YMCA staff provide in Whangaparoa (read as fangaparoa) in addition to exposure to lots of adventure such as mountain biking, rock climbing, rugby, cricket, archery, hiking, bath in hot water spring and treasure hunt among others. Believe me, I did all of this except for archery. The best part of Orientation however was the visit to a Marae (sacred house for Maoris). Maoris are the original inhabitants of New Zealand and therefore seen as indigenous population.
Not only were we welcomed to a marae but three of us had a chance to introduce ourselves in their language before them. I was one of them. We used natural elements such as mountain and river and our ethnicity, race to introduce the land we had come from. We got to participate in a Kapa Haka performance (a traditional dance). You must have seen All Blacks (New Zealand’s rugby team) perform it before their rugby game. (Watch it on youtube if you have never seen it.) We were also served a traditional meal and ate together with Maoris.
Most Kiwis do not get to have this kind of experience with Maoris which is why we felt really privileged. In addition, we spent our night in their sacred ancestral house. This kind of openness heightened my respect for Maoris. After landing in New Zealand, it was them who welcomed us first, (not our university) because they are the original inhabitants of this land. It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? At night, we were briefed about their history by a very wise woman who impressed me a lot. She had experiences of both worlds and had lived in the US and other developed countries but was among the few to speak Maori language fluently.

We also went to see Auckland’s museum. My favorite part was watching volcanic eruption in a room where the whole room shaked and caught us by surprise. It was a wonderful first week without any rain to spoil our experience. Thanks to New Zealand’s IFSA Butler Orientation Team for making our week so wonderful!

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