Farewell Auckland: Last Minute Activities and Final Thoughts

Lisa Penfield headshot
Lisa Penfield
June 29, 2024

Welp, it’s time for my last blog post and the end of my time at the University of Auckland (UoA). The last few weeks have been quite hectic, to say the least, from studying for finals to squeezing in last-minute activities and packing 😢.

At UoA, the finals (or exams, as they’re called here) season is long, extending from June 1st to June 24th this year. Sometimes exams, luckily none of mine, are scheduled on Saturdays. The exams are typically worth at least 50% of your final grade, so the long exam season is greatly appreciated as we get ample studying time. However, it will probably never feel like enough time. At the same time, the long exam season is also a great time to squeeze in last-minute activities. In the last few weeks, I

  • visited Karekare Beach
  • went bowling
  • ran at Cornwall Park
  • watched the sunset from Mount Victoria in Devonport and the sunrise from Mount Eden
  • watched the Auckland Philharmonia and Auckland Youth Orchestra
  • visited the Auckland Art Gallery and the New Zealand Maritime Museum
  • went to the Botany Night Market
  • ran a half marathon in Wellington (a bit of an impromptu decision…)

There are photos of these adventures below! Indeed, it was a busy time (I promise I actually did study), but as a study abroad student, especially in a location that can’t really be revisited easily, I was definitely trying to make the most out of my last few weeks. Now that I’m back in the U.S., adjusting to jet lag and whatnot, I have a few messages for future study abroad students in Auckland.


1.  Studying abroad is a new type of exhaustion & you may never feel completely adjusted during your time abroad.

Arriving in Auckland was slightly rough. My sleep schedule was sporadic in the first week, with waking up way earlier than I’d like to, and this continued into the second and third weeks. Even though this was my sixth semester of college, I felt an unusual type of exhaustion, a feeling I couldn’t quite pinpoint or describe. It seemed this exhaustion couldn’t simply be healed with sleep; instead, I was just worn out as I experienced an internal struggle of constantly wanting to explore but also wanting to settle into a routine. As a result, I didn’t feel entirely adjusted, which continued for a while, probably up to mid-semester break (week five). During this adjustment period, hanging out with friends helped a lot (I’m thankful that I knew some people from my home university who were also studying abroad at UoA) and simply letting time pass. IES Abroad has a great post about adjusting abroad here!


2. The different grading scheme and fewer assignments per semester at UoA do not mean doing well is easier.

The grading scheme is different at UoA than at my home university. First, at UoA, there’s a distinction between an A and an A+, and anything above 80% is an A-, A, or A+, whereas, at my home university, an A has the same effect on one’s GPA as an A+ and an A would probably be around a 90% (depends on the professor). At the same time, most courses at UoA have four to five assignments (this was the case for my four classes). In contrast, at my home university, there are typically weekly problem sets for most classes, culminating in 12-ish assignments. Even with these differences, I wouldn’t say it’s easier to do well at one university over the other. At both universities, the assignments still required solid time management and were just graded differently.  

Also, compared to my home university, UoA’s classes met more often, typically 3 to 4 times a week. Again, good time management is required, regardless of the differences. For more about the differences between UoA and my home university, check out my “My First 48 Hours at the University of Auckland — Getting Lost, Classes, and Club Expo” post!


3. The time difference may cause some unfortunate early mornings.

During my semester in Auckland, I had to wake up early a handful of times. With the time difference, I had a few job interviews at 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and an early class registration time of 4 a.m. for my next semester courses. Some of my friends had the opposite experience, finding themselves doing job interviews at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. Overall, it is important to be aware of the time difference between Auckland and the U.S., as some tasks may land at less-than-usual times. 


4. Make room for souvenirs, but don’t disregard your winter gear. 

I took the former part of the above statement seriously as my carry-on was half empty, but I failed to meet the latter part. I was fine for the first couple of months clothes-wise, albeit I wish I had brought a proper pair of sneakers to walk in (the hills are no joke), but in the later weeks, maybe April and onward, I was starting to wish I brought items such as a beanie, gloves, and running pants. I remember packing in February and intentionally leaving these items, thinking it was relatively warm in Auckland since the temperature doesn’t get too low (at least compared to the Northeast), but I think my hands and ears would’ve been much happier with these items.

Anyway, back to souvenirs! I managed to collect 15 lbs worth of souvenirs… I'm pretty sure most of it was the 11 bars of Whittaker’s Chocolate (sometimes these are cheaper at PAK’nSAVE as opposed to Countdown/Woolworths)… apart from chocolate, other souvenir items that I recommend getting include tea towels and croc charms (I found a cute set of NZ birds!).


5. Visit Tea Talk for boba! 

This point is self-explanatory, but I recommend going to Tea Talk for boba lovers! They're located on Queen Street and Newmarket, both locations close to Carlaw! I may have spent a bit too much money at this place… 

Also, outside of Tea Talk, Gong Cha has a great deal for university students where you can get a "student sticker" added to your ID and use it to get a free upsize!


Final Remarks

I was lucky this semester and made some great friends in Auckland, but unfortunately, that made saying goodbye extra sad :( The four months I spent in Auckland really did fly by, and I’m grateful for the experience, both its positive and challenging aspects. If anyone is reading this and is considering studying abroad, I highly recommend it! So long, IES Abroad and Auckland!


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Lisa Penfield headshot

Lisa Penfield

At Tufts University I’m a Sustainable Solutions Fellow, a member of the Chinese Students Association, and a Volunteer Coordinator for the Food Rescue Collaborative. Outside of school, I enjoy running, baking, and learning to play frisbee!

Home University:
Tufts University
Engineering - Environmental
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