Melanie Henseler at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

The university consists of three campuses. The main one is in Palmerston North and the others are in Wellington and Albany (Auckland). I studied last summer semester 2008 in Auckland which is the newest of the three campuses. You have a great choice of study at the Massey University with the colleges of Sciences, Business, Creative Arts, Education and Humanities and Social Sciences. The campus in Albany is very small and comparable to the Rheinahrcampus. With the study abroad programm I could choose four different courses. Since I am studying Masters of Mathematics in Finance and Life Science, I took two papers in Mathematics, “Methods of Applied Mathematics” and “Advanced Computational Methods”, one in Statistics, “Time Series Analysis“, and one in Computer Sciences, “Studies in Graphics and Computer Vision”.

Everyone at the university is very friendly and helpful. During orientation week you have to get the permission for your chosen papers which was a bit difficult for me because I was an international, postgraduate student and I had chosen papers from three different subject areas (Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science). But the staff helped me to find out where I had to go and there was one special event for postgraduate students. Especially the international office was very helpful and friendly. They organised a lot of events for international students that we got to know more about New Zealand and the culture.
It is very easy to fiend friends at Massey University because there are a lot of activities and events during orientation week. There are a lot of Asian students, so it was not so easy to get to know real “Kiwis”. This is easier if you join some events offered by the Recreation Centre, e.g. the “Uni Games” which is a sports competition between the New Zealand universities. It takes place every year in semester one and everyone is allowed to take part.

The degree of difficulty of my papers was similar to my courses in Germany. Some of my lecturers even used the same book like my German ones. Another similarity was that my classes have been very small. In my two maths classes we were only three, in my computer science class we were twelve and the statistic paper was more than a project where I met my lecturer personally alone and he adjusted the topic on my interest. The difference to the German system was that the assignments during the semester count for the end result whereas in Germany I had homework but only the exam was relevant at the end.


There are a lot of options for living in Auckland. Either you can apply for a student accommodation from Massey University or you can search for yourself. If you don’t want to live in a student accommodation, the best way is to come to Auckland, stay in a hostel for a few days and search on site. A very good web page is TradeMe (see links). There are a lot of flats listed in different prices categories. If you like to live in the city centre, around Queenstreet, then it takes about one hour every day to go to university. But it is very convenient, since the buses leave every ten minutes from Britomart, the main bus and train station in Auckland. I haven’t lived in the student accommodations but I heared that they are not so good. Since the university lies in a suburb of Auckland, the student flats are also far away from the city, but they are close to uni and it is easier to stay in contact with the other students.

Culture and People

New Zealand is a great country. So many different landscapes are conjunct in the two small islands. You can be at the beach and in the snow in one day. The mountains, the rainforest and the ocean are so close together. It is fantastic. New Zealand does not have a long history but it is very interesting to learn about how the diverse cultures came together and how the New Zealand nation was formed. There are not many big cities and in a lot of towns the Maori history is present. The people are so open and friendly in New Zealand, e.g. you get an invitation to stay at someones house who you don’t really know just about someone else. They are so welcoming that you quickly feel at home. The country offers a variety of activities like kayaking, tramping, “extreme sports” like bungee jumping, sky diving etc. Auckland is a good starting point either for day trips to the islands in the Hauraki Gulf of longer trips to Coromandel and Northland. Since New Zealand is surrounded by water there are a lot of things to do on or in the water like whale watching, swimming with dolphins, surfing etc. This country is so various that it offers something for everyone.


Travelling is quite expensive. The best way is to rent a car with some friends and share the rent and the petrol. Some rental services have special offers that the ferry between Wellington (north island) and Picton (south island) is included one way and just the passengers have to pay. Then it is possible to rent the car on the north island and drop it off on the south island. Sometimes also Air New Zealand has discounts and cheap flights between north and south island. An other option would be the different bus companies like Kiwi Experience which is more like a school trip with a lot of young people or the Magic Bus which should be better as I heared. Most of the hostels in New Zealand are very good and you can find a rating of some hostels in a BBH brochure. If you like to travel a lot in New Zealand and stay in hostels, then it is worth buying a BBH card. With the member card you can get some dollars discount per night at the hostels which are BBH accommodations (that are quite a lot).


It is worth to try to get a scholarship from DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst). They pay quite a lot especially for postgraduate students. They payed for the flight, the student fee and a monthly amount of money which was so much for postgraduate students that I could pay the rent of my flat and that I had enough for living. If you apply at the foreign university through an organisation like Ranke-Heinemann or IEC-online then it is possible to get a scholarship from them.

Useful links