Aotearoa: Your Gorgeous Home Away from Home Past Review

By (Biology/Chemistry Double Major, Valparaiso University) for

IFSA: Dunedin - University of Otago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I am more culturally aware and have accepted many new cultures into my life. I am more open and environmentally-aware, and now know that I can deal with so much more than I ever thoguht I could.

Review Photos

IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Like I said above, the class set-up was difficult. Also, there are no class books generally, you must do all your reading in the library. This is problematic when the whole class is writing a paper and everyone must read the same material in order to succeed. Teachers were very passionate about what they do, though. The workload was not bad at all, though I wish it were more because I feel it forced me to learn everything in the last month. I used short-term memory just in order to pass, and I feel that it was not set up for me to remember things long-term, which was what I noticed with my peers as well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I absolutely loved Leila and the staff that we dealt with. I felt so comfortable with all of them and they were incredibly helpful wherever necessary.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved in a flat close to town which was great, but also close to campus. (And also close to the rugby stadium- the World Cup was happening, so that was a HUGE plus!) I went with Uni-flats, and they were great. So prompt and helpful. Very safe, with campus watch always close. Not a lovely flat like some others, but great for what we needed. We were lucky in that we were in a complex with five flats, so we had a great little community. Only small items needed once moved in- hair dryer, toiletries, etc.

* Food:

Food is expensive, so budget well. Great places to eat for cheap are The [Captain] Cook, The Flying Squid (called Squidy's by the locals) and the cafeteria in the Link (the student Union.) Other great restaurants that are more are Plato's (by the railway station) and Capers (downtown on Gt. King Street).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Doubtful Sound trip is amazing. GREAT food supplied whenever doing program-related things. Definitely do the touristy things like bungy, the glaciers, and caving if you can. Moeraki Boulders are cool in Dunners, as well as the Penninsula- penguins are so cute. Also, GO TO ABEL TASMAN National Park- it's really far, but SO worth it. Probably one of my favorite places.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Lots of promiscuity and everything that comes with it in NZ, so they were sure to talk about getting properly treated should there be an issue. (I.e., if you decide to succumb to the nightlife, STI checks are in your future) The student health clinic and the hospital are close to campus should they be needed. Campus watch is very helpful, though NZ is generally a very safe place.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Food- about $100 on groceries. Going out to eat is expensive, so you will probably eat in a lot. Flat dinners are a great way to save if you all pitch in cash. Personal expenses per week: $20-50 (it was 50 at the beginning, but went down as I had been there more)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? K-Mart is the best place to get cheap clothes- its on the top floor of the mall. Also, if you live close to countdown, get their free membership card to save good money. New World is better for alcohol and some meats, but Countdown is cheaper for other items. They are right next to each other, though, so scout them out. ALSO, there is a big difference in prices between summer and winter (winter is more expensive), so plan accordingly. Power and such depends on the flat and the weather, so expect between $40 and $70 dollars a month for power.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • IFSA day-trips
  • Beautiful Landscapes
  • Kiwi People
* What could be improved?
  • U.S. Correspondance (while in US)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Active people who love nature and the environment would LOVE NZ. Wonderful people live here, and you really DO feel like you could stay there forever. I did not know ONE person who was torn up about leaving. If you love nightlife and fun, Dunedin is great, but it's small, so if you really want the city life, Dunedin is not for you. However, Dunedin is a very college-oriented city, so it's an amazing place to be as a University student.