First, of all, if you came across this post because you got into AUT, congratulations! You’ll have the most awesomest time of your life in New Zealand, promise. Accommodation will be a big part of your decision, and will probably eat up a lot of your budget. I was undecided for a long time whether to stay in Wellesley Student Apartements or not, especially because I usually don’t like halls. I read a lot about it, and I came across some pretty negative reviews. In the end I decided to stay at WSA, and here are my experiences (Feb 2014 – end of June 2014). It wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t the best experience ever. I found that staying in Queen Margaret Universities’ student halls in Edinburgh I had a lot more freedom…
Here we go, here’s my (subjective) list:
- It’s very close to University and a couple of nice parks
- You’ll meet a lot of international students (hopefully your flatmates will be nice ;))
- A lot of internationals stay in WSA so it’s easy to meet up with them spontaneously (all my friends I met in NZ stayed in WSA)
- It’s a secure environment, there are gates with security and if you walk home across campus at night and you’re scared, you can even call security and they’ll escort you home.
- It’s very calming for your nerves when travelling from the other end of the world that you know there’s gonna be an accommodation waiting for you to move in to. A couple of friends stayed with private landlords and it took them quite a while to find a room. And their options weren’t necessarily cheaper. Also, Auckland’s public transport is ridiculous, so staying close to Uni is great
- everything you need is there: desk, bed, lamp…you can even buy your duvet and sheets from the accomodation office
- all the bills are included (from my own experience: this is a huge pro, it can be very confusing trying to sort out bills in a foreign country)
- You hardly ever have to use public transport, you can walk to Queen Street and the Harbor.
- They have a lot of baking equipment you can borrow
- They put on community events (if you are a fan of those…I’m not 😉 )
- They have a big common room with computers, a massive TV, pool tables…
- I got a free upgrade, I paid for a small room but got a standard one.
- If you get a top floor, your views will be awesome!
- Because I wanted to attend international induction, I arrived a couple of days before the official move in date. However, the flat that I moved into was still occupied by the previous semester’s students. To put it short, it was a complete mess. When I pointed it out to the office they said the cleaners will come in a couple of days’ time. So for my first days in WSA I lived in a complete dirty disgusting mess. Maybe it was just my bad luck, but still.
- WSA has some very strict rules which I found an intrusion into my private life. Halfway through the semester some idiots threw glass bottles out of one of the windows higher up. Consequently the possession of glass bottles was prohibited and sometimes they would even check your bags when coming home. They said there’d be inspections to make sure there are no glass bottles in the rooms, but they never did it because they lacked staff.
- There are a lot of younger students (I’m 26 and I often felt like a granny, although I lived in a flat with other older students, which was good)
- Towards the end of the semester there are study weeks and you can’t have social gatherings in your flat without notifying the accommodation office beforehand. If you have an illegal one, security will come and remind you of the rules and kick the guests out (once we had a goodbye dinner with our lecturere and even he was kicked out).
- At the weekend at night they sometimes have security at the gates and they only let the people in who live in WSA. So if you want to bring a friend after 10pm who doesn’t live in WSA, it’s not gonna happen.
- There was no WiFi in the flats which I found hugely annoying. Mobile data plans for your phone are very expensive in NZ and I always had to switch on my laptop if I wanted to watch something online or skype
- My kitchen didn’t have an oven, only a microwave (but you can use / book a communal kitchen)
- The kitchen equipment they provide was often very old and rubbish, especially some of the pots and pans
- For whichever reason, my flatmate’s room and mine were connected by a locked door. It made it very easy to hear everything going on in the flat next door.
- At the beginning you have to pay an events fee and during the semester there are all sorts of events or sometimes free study feeds. But, if you’re like me and you’re not a fan of forced group activity you basically wasted the money. And there’s no way you can opt out.
- For whichever reason every room has a speaker and they are used for all sorts of announcements which can be very annoying
- The laundry room was often broken and I also had the feeling that the washing machines weren’t cleaning my clothes properly so I always used the slightly more expensive one across the street.
- The application process was a bit confusing and all of a sudden they told me I had to pay the whole fee before the offer of place expired in a couple of days. That came as a shock, as for example in QMU halls I had to pay the entire sum a lot later.
When I look at this, it looks as if the negative stuff prevails; however, I must say that some of the negative points might not be a negative points for everyone… I have lived in quite a lot of shared flats and I just prefer if I have my freedom and I can bring home whomever I want at whichever time I like. And if a friend has to stay over, then I want to be able to offer them a space. WSA wasn’t always allowing to do that so this annoyed me. a bit.
On the other hand it is just very easy to arrange to stay in WSA online and then just turn up and move in, that’s something not to be underestimated and that was definitely a big pro point for me!
There you go, that’s just my views on staying in WSA, I suppose everyone has different experiences, but if you have any more questions, just drop me a e-mail or comment…and enjoy NZ! (Have some delicious breakfast at the Café Elba on Vulcan Lane for me 😉 )
sorry for the rubbish pictures….