Ready to Go Study Abroad

Whether you’re still deciding on courses or packing your bags, you can always contact our staff to help you along. After applying to Arcadia, program advisors send out detailed information on your application, courses, housing, culture, politics, history and the local higher education system.

Once you arrive in New Zealand, our staff will meet you and your orientation program will begin. The orientation will help you settle in academically, practically, culturally and socially.

Home school arrangements

After you are accepted and confirm your place on the program...

  • Let your study abroad advisor know that you are taking part in an Arcadia University program
  • Cancel any housing or meal contracts for the time you’ll be away and make arrangements to reactivate them when you return.
  • If registration for next year's courses on your home campus will take place while you are abroad, ensure that the appropriate arrangements are made with your registrar or study abroad advisor.
  • Some students enrolled on semester programs decide when they are overseas to stay for the full year. This is possible. While home college approval for continued study can be obtained when you are abroad, it will be much easier to make the necessary arrangements and receive preliminary approval before you leave the U.S.

Academic Matters

Arcadia believes it is critical to be prepared for immersion in the New Zealand educational system by understanding some of its important characteristics. There are five types of tertiary institutions in New Zealand: universities, polytechnics or institutes of technology, colleges of education, wananga and private tertiary providers. The differences are described below:


University education in New Zealand has historical and cultural links to Great Britain and therefore more closely resembles the British rather than American system. Students are expected to be self-directed, most courses are taught via lectures, labs and tutorials, and there is limited continuous assessment. U.S. students are often surprised to find that final exams count for as much as 70% of the final grade and are held over three weeks at the end of the semester.

There are eight universities in New Zealand and they are all state-funded: the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, the University of Waikato, Massey University, Lincoln University, and Auckland University of Technology.

Application to university in New Zealand is considered on the basis of the number of credits gained by students in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement over their last three years of high school.  Most students are about 18 years old in their first year of study. Any student over 20 years old can apply for any course without any university entrance qualification. This does not mean automatic entry but if the course has open entry the individual will be accepted.

There are no formal rankings of universities, but informally the four earliest established universities (Auckland, Otago, Victoria and Canterbury) probably enjoy slightly higher status. In essence, the status reflects the public's partiality toward various specialist areas offered by the university, rather than of the university itself (for example: medicine, law and engineering vs. agriculture and horticulture).

All eight universities offer a wide range of courses in science, arts and commerce.


There are 24 polytechnics or institutes of technology ranging from small rural institutions to major urban ones. Polytechnics provide a wide range of academic, vocational and professional courses.

The historical emphasis on the practical rather than theoretical means that many courses receive significant input from industry and research is often is usually applied/technical and focused on aiding development. Tutors and lecturers are often from relevant industries and work experience is often part of the course.

The polytechnics traditional emphasis on community education has led these institutions to adopt a more flexible and open admission process, where students can enter at a lower academic level and complete foundation courses and pre-certificates that allow them to continue their education toward further certificate, diploma and degree programs.

The academic year is longer at polytechnics and the hours are far less flexible than at universities. There are smaller class sizes, greater class contact time, and more teaching rather than lecturing.

Colleges of Education

Colleges of Education were set up primarily to train teachers. They offer early childhood, primary and secondary education as well as a range of specialist post-graduate study. Teaching practice is an integral part of New Zealand teacher education, thus trainees spend much time teaching in schools.

There are two Colleges of Education in New Zealand: Christchurch and Dunedin. Auckland College of Education merged with University of Auckland in September 2004 and Wellington College of Education merged with Victoria University in January 2005. Other universities and some polytechnics also offer teacher training, but courses running outside of Colleges of Education are usually for people already involved in teaching or for people who already hold a degree.


There are three Wananga in New Zealand. Wananga are state-funded Māori teaching and research institutions that are modeled on an ancient Māori institution of higher learning 'the whare wananga'.

Wananga provide tertiary education to all iwi (tribes) and people wishing to study in a uniquely Māori environment that is administered according to tikanga Māori (Māori customs). There is a strong emphasis on use of Māori language and protocol in all areas of study. To make courses as accessible as possible, study can be undertaken on a full- or part-time basis, as well as in the evenings and on weekends.

Private Tertiary Providers

There are now nine, private tertiary institutions in New Zealand that offer specialized tertiary study in areas such as bible studies, international studies, English language, tourism, business, and art and design. Typically, these schools offer a very specialized area of study, have small class sizes and often enroll high numbers of overseas students.

Important Items to Note:

  • The New Zealand academic year reflects the order of the seasons in the southern hemisphere. The year begins in early autumn (February) and runs until the beginning of summer (in early December). There are two semesters; February to June, and July through November. Each semester usually includes a week or ten days' break at about its mid-point.

Arcadia University's Role

The role of Arcadia University The College of Global Studies will be to help and support you throughout the academic process.

  • At the beginning of your overseas experience our staff will help to orient and advise you.
  • We will put you in touch with individuals on the host campus who will help you to register in the classes you elect to take. We will provide you with guidance concerning the academic calendar and credits, requiring that you register for a full academic load and that you do not overload or underload without special permission. (Such permission must come not only from the host institution but also from your home institution and from the Arcadia University College of Global Studies.)
  • We will facilitate communication between you and your home school in an attempt to resolve any course or credit conflicts that may arise during the registration process. Members of our staff will visit you on campus from time to time not only to check on your academic enrollment but to ask how you're doing in general. If there are difficulties, we encourage you to reach out to us, bring them to our attention and let us help you resolve them.
  • We acknowledge responsibility to several parties in the study abroad process. We have a responsibility to you, our student, to be certain that you are given the educational opportunity which you expect to find overseas and to provide you with the opportunity to succeed academically. We have an obligation to your family to do everything within reason to assure your safety and well-being. We have an obligation to your home school to receive your credits and grades from the host institution and to "translate" and report them honestly.
  • We must also notify your home school of situations of which we become aware which may affect the credit that you will be likely to transfer back from a study abroad experience. That way, we try to avoid having anyone surprise anyone else at the end of a program.
  • Finally, we have an obligation to get out of your way and give you an opportunity to gain everything possible from your study abroad experience.
  • At orientation, you will be required to sign a Arcadia University academic contract. This contract states your responsibilities as a Arcadia program student. If you have any questions about it, please discuss them with your program advisor before leaving this country.

Arcadia University and its overseas staff serve as a safety net, a point of contact. We will provide a good deal of advice and guidance. We are there for you to call on when you need us. It is you, however, you who's undergoing this study abroad experience. We hope it will be all you expect.



It’s important to think about all the expenses you are likely to incur while abroad so you and your family can plan ahead. Your program fees section explains what your program fee does and does not cover, and will provide you with an overall estimate of expected expenses. For example, your airfare to New Zealand is not included in your program fee. It is important to note that the "Estimate of Additional Expenses" information is provided for planning purposes only, and may vary according to your own personal spending habits.

Items to consider

  • Study abroad students are not eligible to work while studying in New Zealand.
  • Allow about NZ$200 for meals and basic expenses during the orientation (all breakfasts and two dinners will be provided). Orientation generally lasts about four days.
  • Expect to spend extra on meals and basic expenses during your first couple of weeks in New Zealand as you settle in.
  • Some universities assess a special course fee for enrolling in laboratory courses. Some assess a fee for every special course taken, while others assess the fee only if a certain portion of courses are taken within one of these departments. You should consult the "Estimated Cost of Attendance" noted with your program fees. Please check with your program advisor for details.
  • The cost of meals, books, local transport and personal items will vary.
  • Vacation expenses can really add up, depending on how far you go and how much time you take. If you are in a full-year program, you will have anywhere from a 3-week to 3-month break between semesters. Most students travel during holiday breaks. Check your program calendar for other breaks and holidays that occur during your study period.
  • Count up your weeks of study and vacation if any under your program.
  • Make daily and weekly budgets and stick to them.

Sample Budget WorksheetExpenses
Full program fee (including $500 deposit) $              
Orientation expenses
Meals (#program weeks _ x $ _ per wk)
Special Courses Fee
Local transport
Personal expenses
Vacation expenses
Total Expenses

Family contribution $              
Your savings
Stafford Loan (deduct 5% for origination fees)
Other financial aid
Other resources
Total Resources


Financial Tips

  • The New Zealand unit of currency is the New Zealand dollar, which we abbreviate as NZ$
  • To check today's dollar/NZ$ exchange rate, use an exchange rate currency calculator.
  • The New Zealand Government has a tax called the GST (Goods and Services Tax). The GST is a 15% tax on all goods and services (food, consumables, transportation and utilities). This tax is included in the sticker price of all goods and services.


You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…

Contact Your Bank

Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad in New Zealand, for how long, and any other countries you plan to visit.

  • If your bank is not aware that you will be using your card(s) overseas, they may cancel your card(s) due to suspicious activity outside your normal spending patterns.
  • Also confirm with your bank that you will be able to use your card(s) overseas and what their fees are.
  • Ask your bank for a list of overseas outlets where your card is accepted.

Carrying Cash

  • It's a good idea to arrive with at least the equivalent of $200 in your wallet exchanged into NZ$– you can do this at your local bank if you give them notice or at the airport for a hefty charge.
  • Your American ATM card should work at most banks overseas including your arrival airport, however you can only draw from a primary (usually checking) account. Be sure to verify with your bank that your ATM card will work overseas.
  • Most New Zealand banks will also exchange currency but note their operating hours and fees.

Cash Machines (ATMs)

If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in thousands of cash machines throughout the country. Cirrus is a more widely accepted ATM card; Plus is only taken at ANZ (Australian New Zealand Bank). The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.

Credit Cards

You can use most credit cards in New Zealand but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.

In an Emergency

When the program is in session, our Resident Director in New Zealand can make emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).


Travel Information

We try to make your travel overseas as easy as possible. Arcadia Orientation is mandatory for all students and you should plan to arrive on the arrival date indicated on your Program Calendar. Please keep in mind, traveling overseas is not just about your flight, but any visa requirements you must complete in advance of your time abroad. Please also note important flight booking details below.

  • Arcadia staff will be at the Auckland airport on the morning of the scheduled arrival date to meet the organized group flight. If you arrive in New Zealand on the scheduled arrival date and time you will be eligible for group transportation from the airport to your orientation accommodation. We recommend that you book a flight that arrives at the Auckland airport by 7:30 am (Spring) / 6:30 am (Fall) to give you enough time to meet the staff.
  • Final transportation will depart at 8:00 am (Spring) / 7:00 am (Fall). In the event that you miss the group transportation for any reason, you will need to proceed to your orientation accommodation independently and at your own expense. Our staff will provide you with detailed arrival instructions to do this.
  • You must check in to orientation by 9:30 am (Spring) / 8:30 am (Fall) on your program start date, regardless of when you arrive in-country.
  • All students studying at Canterbury, Victoria, and Otago must book additional internal domestic flights as directed.
  • For further details on booking those flights, refer to our 'Booking In Country Travel Page'

Group Flights

Arcadia has organized a Group Flights arranged through Student Universe departing from Los Angeles (LAX). To book your travel visit Student Universe. The Group Flights will include your internal domestic flights, if you are attending Otago or Victoria.


Booking your flight

  • You are responsible for arranging and purchasing your own flight.
  • You should plan to book your arrival in Auckland International Airport (AKL).
  • You will need to depart 2 days prior to your scheduled arrival date.
  • If you plan to arrive before the scheduled program start, you will be responsible for any costs associated with transportation and housing.
  • If you plan to arrive before the scheduled program start, please be sure to check your visa requirements.
  • In the event you arrive late and miss the arranged transportation for any reason, you will need to proceed to your orientation accommodation at your own expense. Detailed directions will be provided in your travel guide.
  • Once you have confirmed your travel itinerary, please complete the Flight Form in your Arcadia Passport account.

Visa Information

In order to study abroad in New Zealand for one semester or one year, you will need to apply for a Fee Paying Student Visa. This may seem daunting but don’t worry – your program advisor will walk you through every step, and send you an email with full instructions and details of everything you will need. If you are traveling internationally in the months leading up to your program start date, please let your program advisor know.

If you are applying to the Ecology of People, Place, and Adventure program, you will need to apply for the Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), the New Zealand ETA, and the New Zealand International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy.  You can find further information here.

  • If you are a U.S. citizen

    • The easiest and most efficient way to apply for and secure a student visa is online as most applications are approved in less than 4 weeks. The visa has a fee of NZ$35, which is also referred to as the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). The fee goes towards conversation efforts to offset the environmental footprint of tourists and short-term students and you will pay it when you complete your visa application.
  • If you are NOT a U.S. citizen

    • The visa application may be a time-consuming process and typically takes 4 weeks to process, but can take longer. You are able to apply online, but may be requested to supply more documentation than a U.S. citizen. There may be a fee depending on your citizenship. Please refer to Immigration New Zealand for additional information. If you are not a native English speaker, you may need to provide documentation of English language proficiency, such as the IELTS, Cambridge, or TOEFL. 

In order to complete your online New Zealand Student Visa application please follow the four steps outlined below:

Step 1: Obtain a Passport

Be sure you have a valid, signed passport that will be good for at least six months following the completion of the program. If you do not have a passport, please begin the process of securing one immediately.

Step 2: Gather Application Materials

You will need the following materials to complete your visa application:

  • Passport
  • A digital passport-style photo (Acceptable photo guidelines)
  • Arcadia Certification (Cert) Letter (sent by your Program Advisor)
  • Acceptance/Offer Letter from your New Zealand University (sent by your Program Advisor)
  • Copy of round-trip flight itinerary. If you want to book a one-way flight instead of round-trip, you will be asked to show additional proof of funds in your bank statement
  • Evidence of financial support for day-to-day living expenses throughout your stay in-country. You can do so by providing one of the following:
  • Sample Visa Application: This will guide you in answering some of the questions on your application

Step 3: Complete Your Visa Application

The online visa application must be fully completed by you. Refer to the Sample Visa Application as a guide to fill out your application. If you are unsure of an answer, call your program advisor and ask for advice. Do not guess on any question. Here are a few basic steps to begin:

  • Open the online visa application and select "Apply Now" then click "Create Account"
  • Create a RealMe login - Store/save your login details for future use. Refer to page 2 of the Sample Visa Application for instructions.
  • Accept the security disclaimer
  • Create your profile
  • Activate your account by confirming your email address
  • Answer the initial questions
  • Click "Start Application"

Upload the following items directly to the online application:

  • A digital passport-style photo
  • Passport information page
  • Arcadia Certification (Cert) Letter
  • Acceptance/Offer Letter from your New Zealand University
  • Flight itinerary
  • Evidence of funds

Step 4: Checking the Status of Your Visa

Once you've submitted your online visa application, it will be reviewed by Immigration New Zealand.

  • It is imperative that you check your email, spam folder and the Application Details page of your visa application for new documents or communications from Immigration New Zealand.

  • Your evisa will be uploaded by Immigration New Zealand on the Application Details page of your visa application. The evisa document may be uploaded with the title “Other”, “Letter”, “Misc.”, etc. so check all new documents that have been uploaded.

  • Once you have your evisa you should print it and keep it with your passport at all times.

  • If you do not have your visa three weeks prior to departure please notify your Program Advisor.

Important Visa Information

  • Be prepared to apply for your visa as soon as you receive the Arcadia Certification (Cert) Letter and the Acceptance/Offer letter from your New Zealand University (these will be sent to you in one email from your Program Advisor). Allow at least 3-4 weeks for visa processing.

  • Students with a medical condition, who are studying in New Zealand for more than six months, or have spent time in a country identified as high-risk tuberculosis (TB) country may be requested by Immigration New Zealand to complete a medical exam. If you are requested to complete a medical exam please notify your Program Advisor immediately. All medical exams must be performed by an approved panel doctor. The New Zealand Immigration Services have compiled a list of low-risk TB countries.

  • If you have any medical conditions, you may be asked to provide additional documentation including a medical exam by a panel approved doctor. You should contact New Zealand Immigration directly to confirm what documentation you will need at +64 9 914 4100. Please notify your Program Advisor right away if this will apply to you.
  • If you have a criminal background, you may be asked to provide additional documentation. This may include (but is not limited to) an affidavit, the court record, and a statement from you about what happened. You should contact New Zealand Immigration directly to confirm what documentation you will need at+64 9 914 4100. Please notify your Program Advisor right away if this will apply to you.

If you have any questions regarding the visa process, email your program advisor or call 1-866-927-2234.