Teun in Wellington

Field of study in Wageningen: Consumer Studies
Study period exchange: 20/02/2023 – 23/06/2023
Country (exchange): New Zealand
City (exchange): Wellington
University (exchange): Massey University
Faculty (exchange):  College of Health

2. Motivation for exchange

Why did you choose to go on study exchange?

I decided to go on a study exchange because I really felt like I needed a new challenge next to studying in the Netherlands. Meeting new people, experiencing a different culture and being totally out of your comfort zone were important factors in this challenge. On top of that, I really like travelling and this exchange opportunity made my dream of adding other countries to my itinerary true.

What is the reason you chose for this country/university?

I chose New Zealand because I knew it was one of the most beautiful countries in the world and the fact that it was also the furthest away from home also felt like a challenge. This beauty and the challenge of going as far away as possible inspired me to visit this fantastic country!

3. Accessibility to reach destination

Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?

Reaching New Zealand is of course difficult. You will need many flights in order to get to your destination. Especially if you want to travel a little bit during your exchange period it is mostly the domestic flights and the Intercity bus that keep you going! If you decide to study in Wellington there is a shuttle bus to the city centre from the airport for only 4.50 NZD. I think there are also buses at the airport of Auckland to its city centre.

4. University and studying

Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?

How is the study formalized

I think when you compare the level of Massey University to Wageningen, Wageningen is more difficult in having a much more scientific approach. Massey University has very practical assignments which makes it very nice that you can apply everything you have learnt more in practice. When you compare it to the WUR, there are many assignments, which leads to more stressful periods during the semester, but it is manageable. I had enough time to explore the country at least, which I really recommend because New Zealand is definitely the most beautiful country I have ever seen! Also, Massey has fewer contact hours than the WUR. Lectures are often online and only the practicals and tutorials are in person, so you really need to be dedicated to keep up with your studies.

What is the culture of the university?

In my opinion, comparing student life to the WUR, Massey (in Wellington, so I do not know about Palmerston North and Auckland) does not really have such an active student life as the WUR. There are certain clubs you can join, but these do not always fit your interests. In my case, there were actually none that really interests me but I still challenged myself to try new things so I joined the chess club and went to the church with free breakfasts. Do not expect student associations like Franciscus, Ceres and SSR-W here. Local students are definitely approachable and very kind to you. In New Zealand, they don’t often see someone from Europe, so it really interests them. The only thing that is difficult with Kiwis is making friends. It really took me two months before I started hanging out with them outside of university, but I learned that is also part of their culture so don’t worry about it! My classes were very small, max 10 people, which makes contact with the lecturers very easy.

What does the university offer the student additionally?

At the University you can eat at the Tussock café, which has 50% discounts on Fridays. You can also sign up for the social sports competition which is sort of like the internal competitions in Wageningen. You can choose futsal and volleyball I think. There is also a nice gym where you can sport for even cheaper than the Bongerd.

5. Housing-travelling-living

What are the possibilities for housing?

You can easily sign up for a room via Massey Halls. You will get to live in a big hall with many other students. It is a little expensive but at least you are certain that you have a place to stay in New Zealand. The place also organises some activities. You do get some sort of hotel room, which makes interacting with fellow students a little bit difficult. However, I think when you are on time you can get a shared room which sounds like a lot of fun!

What is the culture of the country like?

New Zealand has very kind people. They are very polite and welcoming. If there is one word describing a Kiwi I would say layback. They are very relaxing and don’t worry too much. Compared to the Netherlands they are less efficient, bad time managers and make life very easy for themselves (very easy to change a deadline for example). But mostly they are just the best people in the world! They have great food which they really like you to taste and their slang words are very fun to experience.

Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?

New Zealand is very expensive. Comparing it to the Netherlands I would estimate that it is 1.3 times or 1.4 times more expensive than the Netherlands. Most fruits and vegetables are extremely expensive, so I bought a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables. When you cook a lot yourself you will save a lot of money. Some products are also lots cheaper in New Zealand compared to the Netherlands, like Coca-Cola. Rental is double the price of the Netherlands per month, so you need to make sure you have some budget.

Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?

Public transport in Wellington is very good compared to the rest of New Zealand. There are many buses you can take and when you have a snapper card it is not too expensive. I bought a mountain bike myself and sold it for the same price. I would really recommend purchasing a mountain bike because the environment of Wellington is so beautiful and it can bring you very quickly to good hiking places.

6. Free time

What are must-sees in the area? 

Okay, let’s start with a list of places to visit in Wellington 😉:

    • Te papa national museum
    • Red rocks coastal walk (spot seals)
    • Mount Victoria
    • Paekerikeri escarpment track
    • Botanic garden via the cable car
    • Waterfront walkway
    • Ferry to Matiu Island or Days Bay. At Days Bay you can hire a bike and have an amazing coastal tour with the bike.
    • Eastern walkway
    • Southern walkway
    • Skyline walkway
    • Government building
    • War monument
    • Rugby match at Sky Stadium.

Next to that, here are some must visits for New Zealand:

    • Cape Reinga
    • Paihia (Bay of Islands)
    • Whangarei
    • Auckland
    • Hobbiton
    • Taupo
    • Rotorua
    • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
    • New Plymouth
    • Nelson
    • Abel Tasman National Park
    • Franz Josef
    • Wanaka
    • Queenstown
    • Milford Sound (in my top 5 most beautiful things ever)
    • Mount Cook (number 1 most beautiful place I have seen)
    • Dunedin
    • Christchurch
    • Kaikoura

What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?

I would say a lot of things in Wellington places to visit that I have described above. Also if you decide to travel New Zealand, Kiwis will have lots of tips about places to be.

Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?

You get a three-week semester break which is meant to study, but I decided to travel during this period and will really recommend this because there is so much to explore in this beautiful country! Also, you can eat very nicely in Wellington and going out is also lots of fun (like El Barrio is a nice place to socialize).

7. Challenges & best moment abroad

What was a challenge you have experienced?

During my exchange, I was a little bit unlucky with the number of exchange students going to Wellington. This made it a little bit difficult to socialize a lot so I needed to get local friends which was a bit difficult at the start because most of them already have their friend group. That made the start of my exchange a little bit hard, but luckily everything worked out nicely! I think there are many more exchange students going to Victoria University in Wellington so you may consider that option as well.

What was your best memory abroad?

I think standing on top of Mount Cook. It was a very challenging thing to do because you had to hike through the snow and I had no hiking boots. It made me realize everything in life is possible and how amazing our world is.

8. Contact Details

Would you like to ask Teun more questions about his exchange?
Send him a mail: teunswierstra@gmail.com