Life in Wellesley Student Apartments

my desk and my view

my desk and my view

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:

Pros:

  • 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!

Cons:

  • 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….

…und wieder zurück…

IMG_9434 (1024x683)

Arthur’s Pass

(English version below)

Wir sind zurück. Die Südinsel war so toll wie erwartet, nur aus den Herr der Ringe Locations wurde nix. Dafür haben wir diverse wilde Tiere gesehen, ich hab beinahe einen Briefkasten gerammt, eine Tanke hat extra für uns geöffnet, Strand, Berge, Schnee, Sonnenschein – alles haben wir gesehen. Und ganz nebenbei hab ich auch noch so um die 1300 Fotos gemacht – die werden jetzt erstmal über die kommenden Wochen bearbeitet und langsam aber stetig wahrscheinlich hier hochgeladen, falls Ihr sie überhaupt noch sehen könnt.

somewhere on the westcoast

somewhere on the westcoast

We’re back! The South Island met all my expectations….we saw local wildlife, I almost crashed a letter box, a petrol station openend just for us, we saw beaches, mountains, sunshine, snow. And I took 1300 pictures. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll try to edit them and upload the best ones, if you’re not fed up with landscape pictures by then 😉

leaving again :(

leaving again 😦

 

The Lord of the Forest

unsere Tour zusammengefasst

unsere Tour zusammengefasst

(English version below)

Tag 3 hätte ich beinahe vergessen von unserem Roadtrip hochzuladen! So viel ist seither geschehen, ich weiß gar nicht wo ich anfangen soll. Also, Tag 3 begann mit dem Backpackerfrühstück im Gumdiggers Café – wo das Abendessen lecker war, muss auch das Frühstück lecker sein, und so war es auch . Trotz der gewöhnungsbedürftigen Kombi mit Spaghetti aufm Teller. Dann fuhren wir wieder südwärts, immer weiter  –  vorbei an verfallenen Schiffen und Bäumen die im Wasser standen bis hin zu einer Fähre die plötzlich vor uns auftauchte. Tja, da hatte google maps eine Übersetzung für uns eingeplant ohne uns Bescheid zu geben. Naja, dann haben wir halt ein bisschen gewartet und sind mit der Fähre übergesetzt – auch gut. Zum Glück hats nur 20 NZD gekostet…. Für das mag ich planlose roadtrips!

Nach der Fähre kamen wir dann bald in den Kauri Wald, ein riesiger tropischer Urwald in dem unter anderem auch Tane Mahuta steht, der Herr des Waldes. Ein über 2 000 Jahre alter Baum der auch einer größten (oder der größte) Kauri Baum Neuseelands ist. Wenn man vor so einem alten Baum steht kommt man sich plötzlich wieder ganz klein vor.  Leider hatten wir nicht so viel Zeit sodass wir bald weiter mussten. Unterwegs stoppten wir noch für ein Mittagessen und fuhren ansonsten weiter, immer weiter. Wie gesagt, die Distanzen hatten wir leicht unterschätzt aber wir kamen dann doch noch rechtzeitig, um 5 vor 5 an der Rückgabe des Autos um 5 an. Timeing ist alles!

Die ersten Eindrücke von Neuseeland haben meine Erwartungen völlig in den Schatten gestellt, hier ist es wunderschön und die Kiwis sind bis jetzt alle durchwegs nett gewesen…Wie wird es da erst auf der Südinsel die landschaftlich spektakulärer als die Nordinsel sein soll?

Oops, I almost forgot to upload day 3 of our road trip! So much is happening, I don’t know where to start…so, day 3. We started day 3 in Gumdiggers café where we’ve had dinner the evening before. Breakfast did not disappoint as, although the combination with spaghetti was “interesting”. We drove south, past shipwrecks and trees standing in the water (I wonder how they got there?) and suddenly , there was a ferry port. Google maps intended for us to take the ferry without telling us in advance. Anyways, we waited for 20 minutes and then took the ferry – luckily it was quiet cheap! On the other side we continued driving south until we arrived in the Kauri forest, a beautiful lush tropical rainforest (I think. At least that’s how I imagine a rainforest – green, lots of green – and many trees and plants). In the forest grows Tane Mahuta, the lord of the forest. He (it?) is a 2 000 year old Kauri tree and apparently he also one of the (or the) biggest Kauri tree in New Zealand. Standing in front of such a giant tree that has seen so many things come and go suddenly puts life into perspective. We don’t matter, we’re just tiny tiny humans on earth that just come and go. Others will outlast us.  Unfortunately we had to drive on quite soon so we drove and drove, back to Auckland. We were supposed to return our car at 5 – we arrived there 5 to 5, that’s timeing!

The first impressions of New Zealand are exceeding my expectations, it is such a beautiful country and Kiwis are a genuinely friendly folk…

Waiheke Island

(English version below)

Segeln steht definitive auf meiner NZ to-do Liste. Als ein paar von uns vorschlugen nach Waiheke Island mit der Fähre zu fahren war ich dabei – Fähre / Segeln, hauptsache raus aufs Wasser. Sonnenschutzgetränkt und glänzend machten wir uns auf den Weg zur Fähre, ein bunter Haufen aus ca. 14 Internationals die dann auf dem Boot etwas durchgepustet und durchnässt wurden. Zum ersten Mal haben wir Auckland vom Wasser aus gesehen und sind an einigen Inseln vorbeigefahren – keine sah aus wie die andere. Eine mit Steilküste, die andere kahl und boppelig (hm, ist das Allgäuerisch? schaut komisch aus so geschrieben). Nach ca. 45 Minuten kamen wir an, aber ich hätte auch noch eine Weile weiterfahren können. Naja. Weltumrundung muss halt noch bisschen warten 😛

Auf der Insel hat sich unsere Gruppe dann recht schnell aufgeteilt, wir waren einfach zu viele um zusammen was zu machen. Wir sind zu einem kleinen Dorf hochgelaufen (vielleicht war es für Inselverhältnisse auch eine Stadt…) und alles sah anders aus. Die Pflanzen, Bäume, Vögel, alles ist anders und etwas tropischer sodass es einem doch exotisch vorkommt. Mit einem latent klapprigen Bus fuhren wir dann richtung Rocky Bay und der Busfahrer scheint den selben halsbrecherischen Fahrstil zu pflegen der jedem Inselbusfahrer zu eigen sein scheint der auf kurvigen, schmalen Straßen durch Serpentinen fährt. Als wir da waren war mir bisschen drimselig aber das war beim Anblick einer türkisen Bucht schnell wieder vergessen. Durch Palmen(tropen?)wälder marschierten wir zur Rocky Bay, aber da am besten die Fotos ankucken, so wirklich beschreiben wie toll es war kann ich nicht.

Dann verfolgten wir noch recht große Schmetterlinge und fuhren mit dem Bus nache Onetangi wo uns die Touristeninfofrau gesagt hatte ein sehr schöner Strand sei. Schön war der Strand auch, nur war es da so windig dass sich der Strand des öfteren in einen Sandsturm verwandelte und unser Mittagessen leicht knusprig wurde. Naja, aber an einem weißen Sandstrand mit Sonnenschein am anderen Ende der Welt ist das dann auch egal. Manche gingen schwimmen oder standen (so wie ich…) einfach nur im Wasser rum…Muscheln für mein Fenstersims konnte ich auch wieder sammeln 🙂 Und danach fuhren wir auf ein Weingut zur lokalen Weinprobe. Dazu gabs Blue Chips die schwarz waren… Der Wein war lecker, aber ich kenn mich nicht so wirklich aus deswegen kann ich nur sagen ob er mir geschmeckt hat oder nicht. Und das hat er. Kurz sind wir noch durch den Olivenwald gestiefelt und dann ab zur Fähre wo wir noch schnell (mittlerweile war es kalt geworden) den Sonnenuntergang fotographierten und dann heimfuhren. Was für ein Tag, wohin frau kuckte war es wunderschön…ich kanns immer noch nicht fassen dass ich hier bin und das alles erleben darf…lucky lucky me. (Fotos nachm englischen Teil).

One of the things I definitely wanted to do here is go sailing, to be out on the open water. When I was asked to join a group of internationals going by ferry to Waiheke island, I was definitely in. Not sailing, but a boat. Close enough for me. We made our way, sunscreen soaked as we were (the damaged ozon layer already had its effect on some of us…) to the ferry, a colourful group of about 14 internationals.  The boat trip was windy, full of sea-water splashes, the first views of Auckland from the sea and  sometimes peculiar looking islands. The ferry to Waiheke only took around 45 minutes, I could have gone on for a long time!

On the island our group split up – no way 14 people all want to do the same thing… We walked up to a small village (for this island it might even be city-sized), and I was just so stunned how different everything is – the plants, the birds – everything is new, exciting and this tiny bit more tropical which makes it all exotic and foreign. We jumped on a bus to Rocky Bay. The raggedy bus’ driver drove in the suicidal style which seems to be unique to all bus drivers on islands with narrow roads, steep drops and windy passages. So, when we got off the bus I felt a bit dizzy, but the landscape cured me quite quickly with a beautiful turquoise bay. We set off through a palm (rain?)forest to walk to Rocky Bay and it was just beautiful, like the bay itself. I’ll just post the pictures below, I can’t describe it properly.

After that we chased big butterflies and went back on the bus to go to Onetangi, where we were told is a nice beach. It was nice, but also very stormy. The mini sand-storms coated our lunch and it had a slightly crunchy feeling to it. But if you’re sitting on a white beach on the other side of the world on a sunny day that doesn’t really matter. Some of us went swimming, some, like me, just stood in the water and I collected some shells…again…for my windowsill. After that we once again hopped on the bus and got off at a winery to have a wine-tasting. We also had some blue (rather black) chips. The local wines were good but when it comes to wine I can only say I like it or not so…yeah. I liked it. There were some olive trees and we just strolled through them and went back to the ferry. By now it got cold and after the sunset we jumped on the ferry and went back to Auckland.

What a perfect, perfect beautiful day! It still feels like a dream that I am here and I feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

Picturetime!