Uni in New Zealand VS College in the U.S.

The first two weeks of studying at The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand have been an enjoyable experience for me. There are a lot of differences from classes I have taken in the past at Susquehanna University located in Pennsylvania. The most obvious difference between both universities is student population. The University of Waikato has 9,904 students while Susquehanna has 2,195 students. This changes a lot of aspects of the University and how classes are run. In the United States, the largest classes size I have ever had is about thirty students. I now find myself sitting in 300 level lecture halls with about one hundred and fifteen students. This makes you a face in the crowd to the professor giving the lecture. No attendance is ever taken is it is all on your own drive to attend each lecture. Since these classes are so large each lecture given is recorded and uploaded to the internet. This is very helpful if you happen to miss some of the notes or you happen to miss a lecture.
Class schedules in New Zealand and at The University of Waikato are structured differently than at Susquehanna University. The biggest reason for this change is that in New Zealand some majors can graduate with a degree in three years without overloading. Degrees in law and engineering are some of the programs that take four or more years to complete. All my lectures last for a maximum of two hours and take place for twice a week. They have labs for classes that can occur one-three times a week that are two hours long. At Susquehanna University you can have the same lecture up to three times a week. As a student at Susquehanna, you only have one lab a week for an induvial class and it lasts three hours long.
The student profile at The University of Waikato is also a lot different from Susquehanna University. The biggest difference is there are decent amount more mature students (over twenty-seven) taking classes with me. The oldest college student I have ever met back at Susquehanna University is twenty-three. Another change in students is that a lot of the students are foreign to New Zealand. A lot of students come from places like Asia, Pacific Islands, and South Africa. Half of the Resident Assistants for my hall are from other countries of residence. This is very interesting to me because I can become more cultured of a person.
Overall, I have come to realize that New Zealand has a more laid-back lifestyle when comes to school and teaching. Professors do not show up wearing ties and or dress shirts. They may even show up to give a lecture wearing a pair of shorts. The upper-level classes I am taking do not have as large of a workload as I am used to at Susquehanna University. I think this semester classes will have interesting topic while allowing me to experience what the rest of New Zealand has to offer.


Raglan Beach Trip

The first week of classes at Uni (what New Zealanders call college) was over and it was finally time for the weekend. What else do you do on an island country then visit the beach? I grabbed my towel, bathing suit, and some food and hopped on a bus heading to Ngarunui Beach located just outside the beach town of Raglan, New Zealand. This beach is the local hot spot to find New Zealand surfing culture. This is what I always pictured when I thought about Californian surfers. The laid-back, long-haired saltwater-loving human. Always in search of the perfect wave to ride into shore. This lifestyle is easy to get used to.
This beach is located the base of a hillside on the coast of the northern island of New Zealand. The sand that covers the shoreline is a color I have never seen on a beach in the United States. The sand is a dark black metallic color that conducts heat and can easily burn your bare feet within a few seconds. If you were to bring a magnet to the beach you would be able to pick up the sand. The black sand contains metal that comes from the volcanic geologic makeup of New Zealand.

The water at Ngarunui Beach is way cleaner than any east coast Atlantic Ocean beach I have visited. The water is nearly clear enough to see the ocean floor, which a pleasant change from not being able to see the fish swimming around you. The only thing you really need to be careful about while swimming in New Zealand is the rocks that line the coast. This makes swimming in New Zealand rather safe as compared to places with sharks and deadly jellyfish.
From my trip to the coast, I have learned some helpful tips for traveling and visiting the beaches in New Zealand. The best and cheapest form of transportation to travel New Zealand is by bus. It may take a longer time, but it will save you money. Sunscreen is a must whenever you go outside for an extended period. There is currently a hole in the OZ layer over New Zealand, so the sun is much stronger than other places in the world. This means you will get sunburn at a faster rate and a higher severity than other places around the world. If you are lost just ask for directions. Everyone in New Zealand is friendly and willing to help other people out

Hobbiton Movie Set

Seven days and one orientation week later, my first week at the University of Waikato in Hamilton New Zealand has gone by in the blink of an eye. I have been able to make many new friends with international and Kiwi students, even with our sra. I can already tell this semester is going to be full of great times and crazy adventures that will last me a lifetime. There may even be a few late-night studies that take place throughout the semester.

The first major tourist trip I have taken while in New Zealand is to the Hobbiton movie set. This trip was offered through the international office at The University of Waikato. Hobbiton is a movie set designed by New Zealander Peter Jackson for use in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit Trilogy. The hobbit village is built on 12 acres of the Alexander families 1250-acre sheep and cattle farm located in Matamata Hinuera, New Zealand. This area is filled with rolling hills and green grass as far as the eye could see, prime New Zealand agriculture. For me, this was not as big as some of the other students on the trip. Some might say this is crazy, but I have never seen or read any of the Lord of The Rings series.
A two-hour guided walking tour of hobbit village movie set is what is offered at Hobbiton. I had the ability to learn facts about the series as well as visit all hobbit holes. One of the holes even opens so that you can get partially inside so that you can take a photo on set. Sadly, or happily, however, you want to view it I am just the perfect height to be a hobbit as the hobbit actors needed to be 5’4 or shorter during filming. At the end of the tour, I was able to enjoy a nice alcoholic apple cider in the Green Dragon located on the set.me hobbiton

hobbit water


Hobbiton has become one of the largest and most well-known tourist attractions in New Zealand. On average 3,000 people from around the world visit this famous movie set. I personally would recommend this to anyone traveling to New Zealand. It a wonderful place to visit if you are hardcore Lord of The Rings fan or would just like experience New Zeeland’s landscape and sheep farming culture.
I can not wait to see what great adventure comes next for me in the breath-taking country of New Zealand. There is always something new to see or do any day of the week.

Arriving in New Zealand

Three days of traveling the globe and have finally made it to New Zealand. The weather is hot and humid that you would experience during summers in the United States. After catching up on my lack of sleep I was able to make some new friends from New Zealand. My dorm building is made up of mainly freshman and a few other US students. It was rather easy to make friends because New Zealand citizens are so friendly compared the US college students I have met. If I walk down my hallway I usually spend 25 minutes or more talking to another dorm resident just because they wanted to talk. In the United States, I could spend days without saying a word to anyone in the hall of the dorm building.


Auckland International Airport Entrance Gate


lake nz school

University of Wiakato Campus Lake

Being an American student, I find the people I am meeting on campus have the same few questions to ask me about the United States. The first question that I receive is why did you decide to come study in New Zealand of all places? The next being what do you think of your current president? What do you think about New Zealand? Finally, the one question I find the most interesting is are sororities and fraternities really like what is shown in movies? The last question was something that I never really pictured as something only done at US colleges. As for politics, I try to stay as neutral as possible as to not offend anyone’s political views or opinions. Kiwi’s like to tell you how awful US politics are compared their country and the rest of the world.
My favorite part of New Zealand life that I have encountered so far is that walking barefoot in public is a common occurrence. It is also socially acceptable for this to take place on a regular base. This means that the saying “no shoes, no shirt, no service” no longer applies in New Zealand culture. Hopefully, someday soon US citizens can pick up this way of dressing or in this case not dressing.


I have been stuck at home for two moths since the end of my fall semester of college. In that time, I have visited family, worked for UPS, and spent a lot of time looking for something to keep busy.  But at the end of this week, I finally leave for New Zealand.  I have started packing all the clothes and belongings that I will need for the next five months of my life, while half way around the world. I am also checking and double checking to make sure I have all the documents I need to travel and legally enter New Zealand. This is very important on my extensive list of items to pack.

Who knew packing would take so much planning? I want to make sure I am prepared for everything New Zealand has to offer, which could be a day at the beach or skiing in the mountains. The trick may be getting everything into a single luggage weighing under 50lbs.  And at least once a day, my mother tells me about something else that I need to survive in New Zealand by myself, miles away from home.

I hope I don’t forget anything important. Thankfully, there is a store across the street from the University of Waikato – so I will not be stuck up the creek without a paddle if I do forget something. The next time you read a post from me on the world wide web, I will be in the incredible country of New Zealand! But for now, back to my lists……

New Zealand An Island Wonder

New Zealand’s volcanic islands are home to 4,793,700 million citizens. The country of New Zealand is in the Pacific Ocean and is the 5th southernmost country in the world. When you ask anyone about the people of New Zealand also known as Kiwis, one of the first things you will hear is the that they are the friendliest outgoing people in the world. They will become friends with anyone who crosses their path.


New Zealand’s north and south islands host the spectrum of landscapes that can be found around the globe. Beaches are plentiful, offering perfect places to sit back and relax.  New Zealand also offers farm land, lush green forest, mountain ranges, and even vast sand dunes. These unique environments can be reached rather easily and are welcoming to exploration.  New Zealand is also known for the clearest lake in the world – Blue Lake –  located in Nelson Lake National Park. With so much to due New Zealand it is a good thing I have gotten myself some New Zealand Dollars. Let’s see how many adventures this money can take me on.


nz money

The List

T-Minus 18 days until I board an airplane for my trip around the world. As I begin my preparation, I finally realize there’s a lengthy list of tasks to complete before I am ready to leave for five months.  Actually, it’s a long list that I have been avoiding for a long time.  But the countdown is on.

Even without leaving New Jersey, I am learning new things.  I dove head first into my list by signing up for my first credit card, as I will leave my trusty debit card behind. I had to inquire about health and travel insurance, something I never gave a second thought. of her as planned. Crossing these big items off the list helped me breathe a sigh of relief and helped my frayed nerves. But now comes the hard part, packing up five months of life into a fifty pound bag.