Getting Oriented at AUT

Lauren Girard, ’20 // International Business

Kia ora!

One of my main concerns when choosing AUT for study abroad was the semester dates. I wondered what I would do until classes began on February 24th, especially since the dorms opened on the 8th. Little did I know, there’s plenty to do! I wish I arrived even earlier to make the most of my time before classes began.

Day 1: Tuesday, February 11th

Saying goodbye to my family at PWM

I began the long journey to Auckland on a Tuesday from Portland, Maine. I flew to Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, California and finally traveled on an overnight flight to Auckland. The journey is not for the faint of heart, but it is worth it landing in 75-degree weather!

Day 3: Thursday, February 13th

I used the SkyBus shuttle to get to the student accommodation 20 minutes away after landing. The RAs at the Wellesley Student Apartments had my key card ready to go and showed me to my flat. A group of 4-5 students shares the apartments. Each apartment has individual rooms, 2 shared bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living space. It is possible to live with other Champlain students or branch out and live with other international students. Personally, I chose to live with 4 other female international students.  I spent the rest of the day settling in and buying room supplies. I opted to buy the school’s linen pack including a pillow, sheets, duvet, duvet cover, and a towel and it was ready in my room upon arrival, making my life easier and shortening my shopping list. The RAs put on a BBQ for dinner, so I stopped by that before exploring the town with friends from Champlain that night to beat the jet lag.

Day 6: Sunday, February 16th

Candid shot at Mission Bay Beach

I spent the rest of the week exploring the neighborhood and shopping in downtown Auckland. Sunday was different because it was my first beach day. A group of friends got together and ubered to Mission Bay Beach in Auckland. The water here is much warmer and clearer than what I am used to in Maine.

Day 7: Monday, February 17th

AUT’s orientation officially began on Monday. I woke up early and went to the AUT Student HUB to get my student ID card to avoid hour-long lines later in the day. Then, I went to an international student session where a local travel agency, Peterpans Adventure, highlighted travel packages around New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. My next session was with the business school and more academically focused. The business faculty introduced themselves and we played a quiz game to test knowledge on general business and accounting principles. The session was geared more towards first-year students than international students, so I did not find it as helpful as it could have been. After going to the session, I realized that I was not even technically considered a business student at AUT because I’m taking a mix of cultural classes, a tourism class, and one business class. I found that the best way to become oriented at AUT was to explore campus on my own with friends, asking orientation leaders any general questions that came up, such as how to print, where to find class schedules, etc.

Day 9: Wednesday, February 19th

The Rangitoto Island crew

Tuesday was spent exploring the Auckland Domain, the oldest and largest park in the area, while Wednesday was spent hiking a local volcano on Rangitoto Island. Peterpans Adventure Travel organized a day trip there by ferry. We spent the day hiking up the volcano and then found a beach on the island to cool off at. It was a great source of exercise and I got to check hiking a volcano off of my bucket list!

Day 11: Friday, February 21st

Friday I got together with a large group of friends to venture to Piha Beach on the West Coast of the North Island. We rented 2 cars and made the hour drive to the black sand beach. Driving on the other side of the road was an adjustment, but doable! It was nice to get out of the city before classes began. 

Walking at Kitekite Falls near Piha Beach

Day 13: Sunday, February 23rd

Sunday I spent the afternoon in Devonport shopping with a friend. We traveled there by ferry. It was a nice way to unwind before classes began the next day.

Recommendations for future students

Arriving 2 weeks before classes began was a good decision because it gave me time to make friends and acquaint myself with the Auckland area. I did not find the AUT orientation to be as informative as it could have been, but the RA’s events such as grocery bingo, nacho night,  breakfasts, movie night, etc. helped me meet other students living in the apartment complex. If given the opportunity, I recommend arriving at AUT as early as possible to explore before classes begin!