Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

The “study” part of “study abroad”

I suppose it had to happen eventually.

I’ve been in denial about the fact that studying abroad actually includes academics. Maybe it’s because I go to “Work Forest,” statistically one of the most rigorous schools in the country, and I was under the assumption that going to school in another country would be an absolute breeze. What I didn’t consider was the fact that in order to maintain my academic success at Wake and to stay on track with my major I would have to take compulsory and academically rigorous courses while in New Zealand (because God forbid I take a few “fun” or “easy” classes).

My schedule here consists of four classes. Four classes at Wake would be fairly manageable (average is five). But here, four is “overloading.” I think this is because the semester is a little bit shorter (only 12 weeks long, in comparison to the average 15-16 week semester in the states). My two business courses (Management Accounting and Legal Environment of Business) are 200 level courses that are proving to a) be quite difficult and b) quite a workout. You see, the business school at Victoria University is located two miles from the main campus.


So yes, I walk two miles (uphill both ways, I swear) three days a week. But it’s okay, because one of my tutors is unbelievably attractive.

That’s another thing that is different about the education system here. Because Victoria is such a large school (at least in comparison to Wake) the lectures are too large for any individual attention. Therefore, once a week I have a “tutorial” for each class, which consists of about 15-20 students and a grad student who goes over the material for the week and makes sure everyone is feeling good about it.

So am I feeling good about it??

Good question.

I have officially handed in three assignments: an accounting assignment, a music paper (I seriously question why I chose a liberal arts education every time I go to that class), and an accounting test.

Well, the accounting assignment didn’t go too well, BUT it doesn’t count towards my final grade. The paper I have not gotten back yet (I’ll keep you posted…. maybe), and the test…. well, we won’t talk about that.

So, academically speaking, I can’t say I’m doing as great as I had imagined I would. Sorry mom and dad.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE…. I only have to pass my classes! C’s get degrees, right?

For many of you reading this, I can imagine your horror. I swear I’m a good student. But for some reason my priorities are in an entirely different place here. Which I’m actually kind of okay with/proud of myself for. I mean, who would I be if I was sitting in every day and night studying, when all of New Zealand is outside my window?

Speaking of windows, check out the view from my study spot in the library. Maybe this is why my accounting test didn’t go so well. I suppose I could have moved to a less distracting cubicle, but what fun would that have been?


That being said, I only have two more weeks of classes before midsemester break, and I’m planning on buckling down and getting some solid work done. As much as I am trying to experience all that New Zealand has to offer, I am also not going to let my academics completely crumble.

One class I’m really enjoying is my tourism class! Coincidentally this is the one class I have yet to complete any graded work for. I have to hand in an assignment next week that analyzes the affects of two political and economic events on the tourism industry. Currently I’m planning on focusing on the affects of 9/11 on tourism in the U.S. and the Apartheid on tourism in South Africa, but (surprise surprise) I haven’t really started yet. I promise, it’ll get done. Don’t worry.

So yes, study abroad DOES actually involve studying. The major difference between academics in the U.S. and in New Zealand (and most of the rest of the world, I believe) is the grading system. Here, anything above a 50% is passing (woohoo!) and the weight of the assignment is much greater. For example, in my accounting class I have two tests (each worth 20% of my grade) and then my final exam is worth 60% of my final grade. 60%. That’s insanity. So basically I just have to not fail the final exam and I will be fine, right? Right. That’s what I’m telling myself after my test last week at least. Accounting is hard, okay? Jeez.

Anyways, I don’t want you to think I’m hating school. I’m not at all. In fact, I really like Victoria University! The main campus (Kelburn) is a really cool compact campus located just a 7-10 minute walk from my flat. The coolest part of campus is “The Hub” which is a large hang out spot for studying, coffee drinking, socializing, etc. While it’s no ZSR, I also really like the library here (probably for the beautiful view I showed you already). There is also a really great restaurant/bar on campus which is great for a study break.

And don’t even get me started when it comes to the business school. While it’s no 50 million dollar Farrell Hall at Wake Forest, the business school here is unrivaled due to it’s location RIGHT next door to Parliament. How cool is that?


The test I took the other day was proctored in one of the old government buildings (I guess Victoria University bought them after Parliament built “The Beehive”). And I even have two of my tutorials in the Wellington Railway Station, which is also right next door to the business school.

So yes, Uni (as the locals call it) is pretty great. Since Wake is such a bubble, it’s been a really interesting experience going to school in a city. Going from driving through gates to get onto campus to strolling by Parliament to get to class has been a huge change, but definitely a welcome one. As much as I love Wake, I love the vibrancy of Wellington and the hustle and bustle that comes with living in a city. Winston-Salem just doesn’t really cut it.

This past weekend was just spent in Wellington with my friends. While I have no huge adventures to report on, it was another fun few days exploring the waterfront on a run, trying a new fish ‘n chips restaurant, trying out new bars, and meeting new people. I don’t think this city could ever bore me. One of my favorite Sunday rituals has been walking down to the waterfront for the weekly produce market. We go every Sunday that we’re in town to pick up our fruits and veggies for the week. They’re unbelievably cheap and it’s a great way to get ourselves out of bed and into town (not to mention we get some great produce!) We also tried out a new restaurant for brunch this past Sunday morning. It’s simple weekends like these that reassure me of my love for this city. I really think I could live here.


Alright, that’s all for now folks. Wish me luck in my attempt to be studious this week!


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