Money, Money, Money!

Going on exchange should be about having new experiences, travelling, finding your inner world explorer…but to do this, you need money. It’s what makes the world go ’round, unfortunately.

Luckily, here at Auckland Abroad, we’re here to help. We give away over $300,000 in scholarships and awards every year to our exchange students! Money shouldn’t hold you back from going on exchange – so let’s get to the point, and let you know what you’ve been waiting to hear…

1. Exchange Award

This is our main scholarship for students going on exchange, awarded to many of our students – we provide 100-120 awards per annum! Just a word of warning – this award is not available for students going to Canada, the USA, or London. If you’re going anywhere else, you may be eligible!

  • $2,500 to students going to Europe
  • $1,800 to students going to Asia/Latin America
  • $800 to students going to Australia.

There’s no need to complete a separate application for this award – you can be considered as a part of your exchange application. If applications exceed availability, scholarships will be awarded based on GPA.

2. Maori and Pacific Award

Eligible students may be able to receive $6,000 from this generous award to assist with their Auckland Abroad Exchange!

  • Eligibility will be for Maori and Pacific students and assessed by GPA if applications exceed availability.

Students will need to apply separately for this award.

3. Equity Award

Eligible students may also be able to receive $6,000 from this generous award to assist with their Auckland Abroad Exchange!

  • This award is limited to domestic students, who have one of the following criterion – the same as the Academic Potential Scholarship:
    • Have proven financial need (eligibility to StudyLink allowance).
    • Attended a lower-decile school.
    • From a refugee background.
    • Have a disability.
    • GPA will be assessed.

Students will need to apply separately for this award.

4. Prime Minister’s Scholarships

The New Zealand government is happy to fund exchanges in Latin America and Asia with the Prime Minister’s Scholarships. These scholarships are competitive and have limited availability – but there are resources available to help you with the application process.

These scholarships are extremely generous and you can read more about them here.

5. Study Abroad Scholarships (Languages & Literature)

The Faculty of Arts offers funding for students going on exchange who study certain languages (Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish). This is to enable students to immerse themselves in a country that speaks the language that they are studying.

It’s worth up to $2,000 and you can read more about it here.

6. Studylink

When you go on exchange, if you are eligible, you can take the full range of Studylink loans and allowances with you! And we’ll help you fill out the application. Oh, and you pay your normal fees to Auckland – don’t worry about pesky overseas fees for your exchange!

Basically, we’re here to help.

Check out these important links to learn more about exchange:

Also, feel free to come in during our Auckland Abroad office hours and have a chat about how you can add the world to your degree. We’re open from 2-4pm on Monday-Friday, and are located on the 4th floor of the Kate Edger Student Commons, next to iSpace!

My O-Week Experience: Courtney

Greetings from London!!

After 30+ hours travelling straight from Auckland, I arrived in the UK on a very dark, foggy afternoon in London. That’s something that was not mentioned to me – due to the UK’s high latitude, it gets dark around 4pm in January! Thankfully this means longer summer nights – which I will definitely be looking forward to. I arrived about a week and a half early, and fortunately was able to stay with my cousin in Wimbledon until I moved into my residence. This gave me a good opportunity to get over my jetlag and get myself acquainted with London.

I highly recommend going early if you can, particularly if you are travelling to the UK or Europe. The jetlag is not fun, and I’d met some poor souls from Australia trying to stay awake at orientation having arrived the day prior. I explored all the classic London tourist spots in that week – even if it meant leaving early in the day, as you wouldn’t see much past 3:30pm when it started to get dark.

This is Somerset house, which in December hosted an ice skating rink! This beautiful historic building is right next to the Strand Campus, and nice for a bit of solitude in the busy city during the right times!

My first week at King’s was rather eventful, to say the least. Monday morning, first day of orientation we were greeted with a tube strike. Not just a few lines, but the entire underground system, which millions of Londoners require to get into the city each day, as only a few thousand actually live in the city centre. As you can imagine, the streets were gridlocked with replacement buses, causing me to be an hour late to orientation (along with many others!), as I ended up with a 45-minute walk when my bus got caught up in the madness.

Orientation was rather unstructured at King’s. We had a few morning sessions, welcoming us, informing us about British Life and Culture, and the school system. It runs fairly similarly to the New Zealand system, although the grading is a little different – 40% is actually a pass here! Although unfortunately it doesn’t mean it’s easier, as the way they grade means anything over an 80% is near impossible.

I quickly learned at King’s that you would definitely need to put yourself out there to meet new people. They offered a few events in orientation week, however many were group based and often people would quickly form groups – which is quite intimidating if you’re not comfortable with meeting new people. However, it is a great way to put yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself!

Friday of orientation week I also got another surprise – Snow! An extremely exciting event for someone who rarely sees snow. Unfortunately, London being slightly warmer than up north, meant that the snow didn’t settle. I’ve also managed to spot a fox that lives around my residence a few times – which again is exciting for someone who’s never seen one before. I’ve found I definitely get strange looks freaking out over squirrels (which are everywhere).

Big Ben is just a short walk from the Strand campus. I made sure to visit it during orientation week because it is scheduled to have scaffolding go up soon, as it is under repair for the next three years!

Unfortunately, my residence has yet to do anything about any activities or meeting people, which is quite different to what I’m used to, living at Carlaw Park Student Village previously. I assume much of this is to do with the fact that I started in their second semester (January), and so many residents already know each other from orientation in September.

My orientation experience is only going to be relevant to King’s, however if you have any questions about UK Universities, feel free to contact me at, and I might be able to help with my experience so far!

I’ve recently booked trips to Scotland, Copenhagen and Amsterdam in the next month, so looking forward to my European adventures! Feel free to follow me on Instagram @courtney_yule to follow my adventures!

Until next time,




My O-Week Experience: Emily

Lund, Sweden – First Impressions
37 hours after leaving my home and family in Wellington, I arrived safely in Copenhagen. It was a shock to the senses stepping outside into a chilly -10°C, but I instantly fell in love with the icy winter landscape. The next step was departing Copenhagen to reach my final destination – Lund, Sweden. Mentors greeted myself and other fellow exchange students at the airport and directed us to the train that would take us on the short 30 minute ride to Lund.

After picking up the keys to my new home for the next 6 months, I arrived at Klostergården Student House, joining the 200 other international students living under the same roof. I opted for a twin room, complete with a kitchen and bathroom. After spending a full day at IKEA I finally felt ready to settle in. The plain white walls are now plastered with a growing collection of polaroid pictures as well as fairy lights and a New Zealand themed alphabet set.

Cobblestone streets and buildings that date back to earlier than the discovery of New Zealand give Lund its historical and charming atmosphere, making it easy to feel at home here. The snow has been an unreal experience for me as I have never seen anything like it back home in NZ. The locals probably think I’m crazy because I can spend hours playing in the snow with friends, happily abandoning the warm university corridors.


Lund University hosted many events for their numerous exchange students, including a meet and greet night, a formal welcome from the Vice Chancellor, and a crazy welcome party. During the first week came the time to sign up to one of the student nations. Lund University has 12 student nations which host all of the bars and nightclubs, as well as many other fun and cheap events such as burger nights, brunches, and balls. However, once you are part of a student nation you can attend events from any nation. The city is basically designed around the university, where students make up almost half the population. The students really do run the city. It is incredibly easy to meet like-minded people from all across the globe, and I already feel like I have made some life-long friends here.

Lund is a fantastic destination for travelling, as it is so close to Copenhagen airport where you can find direct flights to practically anywhere in Europe. I have already visited Amsterdam and have flights booked to Paris, Zurich, Berlin and more for March. I am also heading to Lapland in February, 300km beyond the arctic circle, to witness the Northern Lights, take part in husky sledding and hanging out with the reindeer. Bring on some epic snowball fights!


My O-Week Experience: Victor

First impressions of a faraway land

Actually, “faraway” isn’t too accurate. This is because I already made the trip to Hong Kong and then to the neighboring Shenzhen about a month ago, for a vacation with the relatives living there. As such, having casually driven to O-work and already well-adjusted to the surroundings, my experience may not be the typical jet-lagged, disorientated, hypnotized, and all-around confused type that is more common for exchange students that just hopped off a plane.

“You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.” – Nury Vittachi

Greetings everyone! It’s been some time, hasn’t it? Now all the hype, the expectations, the anxiety, and the excitement converges at last. The exchange has begun!

The Accommodation
I am staying at the Lee Hysan hall, which is around 10 minutes’ ride to the university campus. The hall shares its grounds with two other halls, the R. C. Lee Hall and the Wei Lun Hall, which forms a triangle triumvirate that faces each other head-on like a Mexican standoff.

After checking in with the front desk, I arrived at my room on the 10th floor. On first impressions, the place seemed a bit smaller than I expected for two people, with each person occupying one side of the room. There’s sufficient space to deposit all of the luggage I’ve brought (even my clunky guitar case!), but the real highlight is the absolute killer sea view from the windows. I can’t imagine how much this would cost in Auckland!

Killer window view!

Sometimes the local students get a bit loud late into the night as you are trying to sleep. Where’s noise control when you need them? Good thing I brought a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to act as makeshift ear-muffs. Generally, they prefer to huddle in their own groups, but by just saying hi and having a chat, you find they have a lot in common with you and are all very nice people.

There is a 7-11 just at ground level to the side of the hall, but for more extensive grocery shopping I needed to take a bus to a larger store. It wasn’t that far away, but you need to brave a mountain of stairs and hills to get there, so much so that I felt like I’m back in downtown Auckland. No, it’s not fun to carry 5kg of grocery and going for a hike at the same time, but a guy’s gotta eat. I would place a walking-distance supermarket much higher on my list if I ever do this again.

Overall, it gets cozy after a while, and you do feel like coming back to a home as you spend a feel days out exploring and dragging yourself back here, exhausted. You will know you have settled in when your accommodation room gets as messy as your own room back home.

New land, new friends
My roommate’s name is Chris. He’s from Maryland all the way in US, and he also brought his guitar like me! He’s studying electrical engineering and unfortunately quite jet-lagged when I first met him. I had to tip-toe around him for several days at 8 in the night while he’s turned in already and vice-versa when he’s up and about at 4 in the morning. I forgive him. I’ve been through this plenty before.

I met some more exchange students from going to the university to sign up for orientation events. We went out for some cool days and nights out in the heart of city, often walking our feet off. But it’s all worth it, as in the midst of the streams of people and zooming cars, you discover a city truly:

The bustling Mong Kok markets
Overwhelming skyscrapers at night
Together with friends at the Victoria Harbour  light show

Definitely, definitely go out and explore the city with the new people you meet! Preferably before the semester begins and all hell comes crashing down (for me as an Engineering student, anyway).

You notice early on that while English is ok to get by in Hong Kong, not everyone is as proficient as you hope, and it’s somewhat difficult to mingle with the local culture and people without any Cantonese. Hopefully, with the class I’m taking and me being Asian, I can one day successfully infiltrate a local conversation with a mouthful of fluent Cantonese.

A side note, Hong Kong’s public transportation is phenomenal! From the double-deckers that come every five minutes to the metro than spans across the entire city, Auckland needs to step up its game.

The Food
I’m a guy that likes to eat, and Hong Kong is a heck of a place to tick that need. As the cultures of the West clashes with the East, you will be sure to find many authentic cuisines of both types, as well as innovative combinations of both! From dim-sum to fried fish-balls to beef brisket noodles, be prepared to work off those extra gains while staying here!

Just something regular at the restaurant downstairs, less than $5 NZD!
A “Pun Choi” at orientation events

The University
We can’t forget the biggest reason I’m here right? The University of Hong Kong, lo and behold it in all its glory.

Firstly, this place’s huge! You get a workout from just walking from one side of the campus to the other. Funny story, I spent about 30 minute trying to leave the school once after classes because I forgot where the exits were, akin to a kid lost in an amusement park. I was finally able to escape with the aid of various campus maps planted here and there, but not before I caught a glimpse of a different side of the university after nightfall:

Campus at night

Looking at that picture, you wouldn’t really be able to tell it’s a university right? Seems more like a place you go to wind down and grab a few after a hard week. Overall, a real treat and privilege to study in a place such as this.

Of course we do!

That’s all folks!
That’s all I have to blabber about right now. I still have so much to discover and do so I guess I need to be hurrying along now, dim sums and wontons await! See you next time!


My O-Week Experience: Zofia

Well team, I made it!

I’m writing this sitting in the Mary Brück Building at the King’s campus of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. It still feels surreal that I’m actually here, despite being several weeks into university starting.

So, what have I been up to? Well, there has been a lot of beer and late nights, as well as lectures and practical labs (I swear, Mum, I’ve been going to every one).

Since I’ve come into Edinburgh’s second semester of the academic year, O Week wasn’t a huge “official” thing (although I hear if you come in September, Freshers Week is insane). That being said, the unofficial party hasn’t stopped since I got here.

I arrived at my accommodation in January. I’m staying at Pollock Halls, which is a complex of seven or eight “houses”, which are your typical university hostels – small rooms, single beds, questionably patterned carpet. We all share one big dining hall, which is all-you-can-eat and arguably wonderful.

On the first night we got taken to an event for international students called ‘A Taste of Scotland’. We got the whole haggis experience, with a piper and a proper Scottish address. If you don’t think about what’s in it too much, haggis isn’t half bad, and the Scots’ obsession with mashed root vegetables (“neeps and tatties”) is well founded.

During the week we also went to a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee – that’s Gaelic for you). It’s a traditional Scottish folk dancing gathering, where you get taught the steps and dance in big circles. Really fun, but also a lot more of a workout than I’d anticipated when I dressed for the 0 degrees it was outside.

Those were the two properly organised events that I went to, but I’ve managed to meet a tonne of absolutely lovely people who go to Edinburgh Uni. Despite only being here for such a short time, the city itself and the people already feel like home.

Coming from New Zealand, you tend to forget how young we are as a country. Some of the buildings here outstrip our entire history by hundreds of years, which is insane to think about. The first day I arrived I just walked down all the streets taking photographs of everything and you could tell the locals wondered what I found so fascinating about literally just an old building.


The other major difference here is the cold. I’ve never lived anywhere that is this cold. When it started properly snowing I absolutely lost it (embarrassing in front of exchange students from Canada, who didn’t find it so thrilling). But after purchasing some additional woollen socks I’ve managed to make it through.

The university work is really interesting, too (had to mention it at some point, I guess). Very similar set up to how science courses are run in Auckland, although I am slightly bitter about the difference in workload between science courses and everything else! My friends taking arts and commerce subjects literally have three lectures a week, whilst I’m suffering through about four times that.

So there we go – the first update from Edinburgh.

Love from Scotland!


My O-Week Experience: Elizabeth

“I heard you have cannibals in New Zealand, is that true?” – And so began my first week as an exchange student at the University of Nottingham, England. I didn’t expect that to be the first question I was asked about New Zealand, but it was definitely a hilarious way to start my exchange. (In defence of the American who asked me the question, about two minutes later I asked if he had a gun in his house (he does)).

Nottingham City Centre

This blog is about my orientation week at the University of Nottingham – hopefully it will give those of you planning on going on exchange a bit of insight into what it’s like!

Accommodation – Broadgate Park (university accommodation, self-catered flat)
I spent a lot of my train journey from Manchester wondering what the make-up of my flat would be. Would they put me in with a bunch of English students, just exchange students, a mix? If the greeting from my first flatmate in a strong American accent didn’t clue me up, the heavy French accent of my second flatmate confirmed our whole flat was international students. As we found out later, they’d chucked all the exchange students in one block.

I love our flat! The five of us hit it off right from the start, including a bonding ritual where we all ate a pickled onion from the jar we were given in our orientation pack. The flat itself has six rooms and a shared kitchen and bathroom. I’ve had to wait for the shower and toilet a few times and there’s no lounge to chill in, but it’s still a really nice space! If anyone has stayed in university accommodation at UoA, the rooms are probably the size of a University Hall room and definitely bigger than places like Huia and UHA. Broadgate Park is about a five minute walk from the entrance to campus and 15 – 20 minutes from most buildings and lecture theatres. It’s got its own little dairy style supermarket and a café that sells Starbucks drinks but isn’t really a Starbucks. There’s also a fresh fruit and vege stall that pops up a few days a week which is great so you don’t have to carry them back all the way from the nearest Tesco.

Can confirm picked onions are super gross.

I thought Broadgate was closer to the city centre before I got here, but it’s actually a 25 minute bus ride (although the bus only costs £1). Luckily, we are close to a suburb called Beeston. Beeston is full of little shops and cafes, including tons of charity shops where we bought lots of the pots and glasses for our kitchen (we also bought a High School Musical 3 mug that everyone fights over, and a mug celebrating Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s Engagement – because you’re in England now, love). There is also a PoundLand and a Tesco Extra which are potentially my two favourite shops I’ve encountered in England – everything is so cheap and there’s so much more variety than at home! Fresh fruit and veges are crazy cheap compared to New Zealand.

Orientation at the University of Nottingham

My flatmates and a couple of other friends before our Welcome Meeting.

I could only move into my accommodation the night before University started (Sunday 29th January) which was frustrating, as I didn’t have time to settle in before uni started. On Monday morning we had to pick up our module enrolment papers and then had a Welcome Meeting at 11am. It was at this meeting we were told that classes had already started that day. I was lucky that I’d had all my classes confirmed before I got to England but it was still really stressful realising I should already be in lectures. Everyone was blindsided by the fact we had had barely any information from the university and suddenly just had to start. We didn’t really get that much information at the Welcome Meeting that I found useful either.

Luckily, I had a meeting at 10am on Tuesday with the Law Faculty. It was for all the law exchange students in the Spring Semester (which turned out to only be five of us: two Australians, two New Zealanders, and one girl from Hong Kong) with one of the law school administrators and the Professor in charge of exchange students. They gave us a lot of information about the law school specific things which was so helpful. Both of them were incredibly welcoming!

The Trent Building feat. classic British grey sky – one of the University of Nottingham’s main buildings and definitely the prettiest.

The only other orientation event that the University put on was the Refreshers Week Fair which was where all the clubs and societies at the University have stalls where you can sign up to their clubs. The Travel Society definitely seems like the best society I’ve joined so far – they plan trips around the UK during the year that you can go on. Tomorrow I’m going to York which should be super fun! At the fair I also got a lot of free pizza from the Dominos stand which was definitely the highlight.

While the orientation put on by the University was pretty lacklustre, I know that they dedicate a full week to proper orientation events in September (the start of their university year). I imagine it would be a lot better then than in January where all the English students have already been there for six months. So if you’re not sure of which semester you want to go Nottingham, I’d definitely think about going in their first semester (our second) which starts in September because you get the full O-Week experience.

There’s also an organisation in Nottingham called CityLife which organises events and trips for international students which is awesome – we went on a pub crawl last week which was tons of fun and a good introduction to Nottingham nightlife (as a side note, they have Taco Bell in Nottingham which is the perfect post town night snack).

Highs of my exchange so far!
British accents – no explanation needed.

Everything is Robin Hood themed and it’s brilliant. Nottingham has wholeheartedly embraced its part in the legend of Robin Hood, with everything from cafes to public transport cards being named after him.

Getting on the bad side of Robin Hood despite the fact I’m an exchange student so am pretty poor.

Squirrels!! I was with my American friends when a squirrel ran past us on the footpath and I squealed it was so exciting! They all laughed at me. The same thing happened when it snowed the other day.

The university grounds are gorgeous – we have a lake!! There’s also just lots of trees and greenery which are stunning.

Cute little part of Nottingham city!

The city itself is absolutely lovely! It’s quite small so it’s easy to walk around, but there’s lots of cute little shops and cafes. They have a Ferris Wheel at the moment that’s up until March 12 which is awesome (although it was closed for maintenance when my friend and I went into the city solely for the purpose of going on it). It also has Primark which is just full of cheap clothes and homeware stuff which is perfect for decorating your room or buying cheap clothes to supplement the limited wardrobe you can fit into your luggage.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – the oldest pub in England, it was where crusaders had a pit stop before heading off on their journey. It was also where I attempted to finish a whole pint of beer but couldn’t quite manage it (I’ve stuck to cider since then – most of it isn’t a patch on NZ cider, but Strongbow Cloudy Apple is definitely a favourite). But also the pubs in general and pub culture has been amazing – going in for a cheeky pint after shopping in the city has become a bit of a tradition.

Ye Old Trip to Jerusalem pub


Nottingham Castle – originally built by William the Conqueror but it has been destroyed several times since then.

We found out that we get a month break at Easter which means a couple of friends and I are heading to the Continent itself for a few weeks and then hopefully heading up to Scotland! Can we please have mid-semester breaks this long, UoA?

Honestly, the friends I’ve made in the last two weeks have really been the highlight of my exchange so far. If you’re reading this and you talked to me about my exchange before I left, you know my number one worry was making friends. Obviously, I needn’t have worried. I’m constantly surrounded by awesome people (even the Australians are cool which is a big surprise!) and it’s just so amazing.

My flat! One Kiwi, one German, one Frenchman and two Americans!

Being flung head-first into uni without much help from the University itself. I ended up missing a whole week of one class because I didn’t know what was going on. There was a lot of running around to get things sorted out which was a hassle, especially when trying to settle into a new country. Everything would have been made so much easier if we’d been able to arrive a few days before actually starting classes.

The weather. I know I shouldn’t complain, because I fully knew I was coming to England in the middle of winter but I don’t think I was quite prepared for how grey everything is all the time! My Australian friend is taking Vitamin D tablets because she’s worried she’s not getting enough sun – which I laughed at, but you know, it’s probably not a bad idea.

The time difference! Being 13 hours behind makes it really hard to call friends and family at home. I can sometimes get in for a bit before class in the morning if I wake up early enough, or on weekend mornings in New Zealand (so night for me) because people are actually home and not at work. I’m really jealous of my German and French flatmates whose family and friends are only an hour behind!

Things that surprised me about being on exchange
The first person I met in Nottingham was a New Zealander which really just proved how small the world was. I was struggling with my suitcase in the rain trying to get to the reception of Broadgate and the girl who came up to show me where the reception is was a law exchange student from New Zealand (although Canterbury, not Auckland because the world isn’t that small).

I am so much more patriotic – this extends to talking about rugby more than I ever have in my life, arguing several times with two Frenchmen about how Richie McCaw is a national hero and not a cheat.

It didn’t actually surprise me that much, but I only really miss home when people send snapchat from the beach. (If you’re reading this and you send me beach snapchats please stop, I’m dying with jealousy because it’s usually about 4 degrees here). Maybe I’ll get homesick later on, but it definitely hasn’t happened yet (sorry Mum). I do miss Watties tomato sauce though – British Ketchup just isn’t the same.

Nottingham City – we found the hipster part with lots of pubs and secondhand shops

I’m basically loving England! The exchange experience is incredible so far and exactly what I hoped it was going to be before I left. As you can tell by the length of this post, I love talking a lot, so please ask me any questions you have about Nottingham (or England and exchanges in general)!

(Full disclosure, I haven’t heard anyone actually say this)




The Netherlands

Another gorgeous location to take part in an exchange. Lucky University of Auckland students have the option to study at one of three universities in the Netherlands: The University of Amsterdam (including Law), University of Groningen and Utrecht University (including Law).


Let’s hear what our students have to say!

“A land without hills; a flat landscape interconnected by fearless cyclists, UNESCO status canal rings, Albert Heijn supermarkets – with their mélange of delights (and sometimes free coffee), places to buy coffee and the less-than-discrete coffee shops, markets selling artisanal produce alongside mass-produced tourist knickknacks, free ferries that deliver you to the north side of the city, and topped off with relentless bike thieves that cunningly whisk locked bikes away during the day or night… I arrived in Amsterdam in anticipation, not knowing what to expect from this foreign city with such a big international reputation.” – Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam

“Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. At night, the tall, narrow buildings are reflected in the canals and watch you as you walk by. There are little lights dotting the edge of the canal bridges. It reminded me of Cinderella.” – Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam


“Studying abroad is a great opportunity for so many reasons, I am very glad that I chose Amsterdam as the place to go to. First, the city is full of life, there are so many interesting and unique parts to it; it is hard to explore the maze of canals in a few short months. Amsterdam is not the most affordable student city but student accommodation definitely lowers the price and you can generally find good deals in most supermarkets and can find affordable yet delicious eat out options. The variety of cultures within the city is reflected in its wide range of food, drinks, clothing and entertainment options, there are always an endless stream of experiences to be found.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

Bikes, Bikes, Bikes…


“Amsterdam has great public transport and cycling is very easy due to the flat land and bicycle lanes.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

“After initially being overwhelmed by the number of bikes in Amsterdam, I soon loved my daily cycle to class.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam

“Biking in Amsterdam was chaotic, scary, fun, and liberating once you learn how to ride like the Dutch.” – Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam

“Two pieces of advice I would give to anyone going on exchange to Amsterdam would be: watch out for bicycles when walking around the city and buy a bike as soon as possible and to go exploring.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

“I cycled to the University on cobblestoned streets lined with buildings older than my country, and engaged in interactive classes represented by a diverse range of nationalities.” – Jeroen De Vries, Utrecht University


On orientation:

“The University of Amsterdam held an orientation day and dropped us all off to our separate accommodation. Mine was the furthest away from the city centre, but turned out to work the best for me. From there, the International Student Network (ISN) held an opening weekend where we were put into groups and taken through activities and parties for the first three days on exchange. This was definitely one of the highlights and I would highly recommend joining a student network if you do choose to go abroad. Most of the people in my group here I ended up staying in contact with for the rest of the semester, and even after returning to New Zealand’ – Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam


“I was able to meet some students (Dutch and International) at the orientation and events run by the ISN (International Student Network) and in my classes. I was also able to meet local people and some professionals in the Tech industry by attending local Meetups by using” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam

“I did get involved with the international student network – there was a week of activities, day trips to pancake boats, parties… The friends that I met would be the ones I sat around with at informal dinner parties, with wine and cheese.” -Sally Wu, The University of Amsterdam

“The first week I was in Amsterdam I took part in the university’s exchange introduction (orientation) week. This was a fantastic week and I would highly recommend signing up for it. Along with a visit to the university’s 3 main locations we also went to the zoo, on a canal cruise, a pub crawl and a comedy club. This week was also great as I met several people in my courses and other Dutch students who shared their insider knowledge on living in Amsterdam.” –  Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

On housing:

“I was staying in the Rode Kruislaan residence organised by the university which was about 25 minutes bike ride from central Amsterdam. It was simple accommodation and had around 150 students staying within the 5 apartment buildings. Right away I met my neighbours – a Swiss law student and a Dutch biology student. We cooked together – our favourite was Dutch savoury pancakes with bacon and Gouda cheese.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam


On courses:

“The university courses were challenging but interesting, and the calibre of students and professors were excellent. The work is predominately self-driven (in the law faculty at least), with less class time and more focus on individual preparation. Similar to our summer school, semesters are broken into two blocks of 6 weeks, with no study break before exams. Most courses at the law faculty are only taught in English, even for the Dutch students, which means that most classes are not just international students – which is great if you want to make local friends.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam


“Nostalgia for my homeland took a back seat as I entered into my Social Science courses and I began to make connections and friendships within the array of international and Dutch students. These growing groups of friends become the backbone of my exchange, serving as a perfect tonic to 6000-word essay deadlines and days full of two-hour classes. We took advantage of the super-efficient national train service, making day trips to other cities, beaches, forests and islands throughout the Netherlands. Over the year, Amsterdam began to feel like a village – with most galleries, cafes, bars and music venues less than 20mins cycle away. I slowly began to learn basic supermarket and hospitality conversations in Dutch, however I never progressed much further (one of my regrets) as English was resorted to so quickly, in accordance with Dutch efficiency.” – Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam


“My psychology studies involved a lecture and several required readings per course each week. It felt similar to the amount of study I would put into an average course at Auckland. The courses were very interesting and I thought the Motivation course was in my top 5 favourite courses of my bachelors.” – Matthew Marinovich, The University of Amsterdam

“Although the study itself was structured differently (one semester is cut in half!), the university was welcoming towards exchange students, and in all of the courses I took, and the majority of the students were international. Amsterdam city in general is very international; I met people from USA, Spain, China, Sweden, Australia, and even Dunedin! Meeting people was the thing I was most worried about, but the thing that came the easiest while living in Amsterdam. Every other exchange student is in the same boat as you, so everyone is super friendly and wants to be your friend.” – Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam


“The academic experience of studying in Utrecht was a memorable opportunity to observe how universities operate in a different country. I cycled to the University on cobblestoned streets lined with buildings older than my country, and engaged in interactive classes represented by a diverse range of nationalities. As a centre for international human rights law, I was able to hear from interesting guest speakers including the national director for Amnesty International. I also had the opportunity to visit the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague” – Jeroen De Vries, Utrecht University

On travel:

“The best thing is that, with these new friends, you can then travel around Europe! Amsterdam is quite central in Europe and there are often cheap flights to places like Stockholm, Barcelona, London, Berlin etc. The public transport around Europe also makes travelling very easy, so not much planning is required.” –  Chris Kolston, The University of Amsterdam


“Due to the location of Amsterdam in Europe, it is remarkably easy to travel to and from. Trains run regularly and you can usually find relatively affordable flight options too. During my time there I visited a number of different cities and towns in Germany, UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.  I had a fantastic time on exchange and if you are presented the opportunity to go, you should leap at it.” – Grace Bendek Rooney, The University of Amsterdam


Top Tips:

“The high prices for living in the city became less daunting over time as I learnt the city shortcuts; owning a bike with a good lock saves a fortune on transport, get an OV-chipkaart for those trips to the airport, find Facebook groups/events for collectives that save food from shops before it goes in the bin, and definitely buy a museumkaart, which costs a bit but lasts a year and allows you to visit an extensive list of galleries and museums across the Netherlands for free! I left my Amsterdam home with teary eyes, but grateful that I had been able to see the city in the colours of every season, that I had also learnt more about the way Anthropology is taught and made relevant to the Netherlands and Europe and that I, miraculously, never got my bike tyre caught in the tram tracks, or fell in any canals.” –  Zoe Dunster, The University of Amsterdam


“Amsterdam has a wide array of fantastic cultural activities (museums, galleries, libraries). Buy a museumkaart and visit one of the many museums – from the Cheese Museum, the Cow Museum to the Anne Frank House or the huge state museum (Rijksmuseum). There are fresh produce markets on every week with food, tulips and crafts on offer. It is very easy to eat too many stroopwaffels and your weight in cheese (Dutch people take cheese seriously!) The population in Amsterdam is generally quite young, so great new cafes, bars and restaurants open frequently. I would recommend Amsterdam as an exchange destination to anyone. The people are friendly, the food is excellent, the university is top-quality and travelling is easy.” – Elizabeth Vincent, The University of Amsterdam