Past Review

By (Geosciences, Wellesley College) for

IFSA: Dunedin - University of Otago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I loved my time in New Zealand and am so happy that I decided to go there. I experienced a different approach to education and gained a better understanding of geology, different cultures, and life skills. It enforced my love of traveling.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: University of Otago
How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was not as constant as I am used to. There were weeks when I spent every moment studying in the library and other weeks when I barely had to spend any time on academics. Grading was much harsher. In order to achieve an "A," I was often expected to demonstrate knowledge above and beyond what was taught in the class.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IFSA-Butler coordinator at the University of Otago is very friendly and approachable.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in the Lofts, which are flats on Great King Street. I lived with 5 other flatmates: 2 Kiwis, 1 Canadian, 1 French, and 1 other American. We were in a three-story apartment with a kitchen, dining area, living space, 6 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a wash room. <br /><br /> I was in a neighborhood that was dominated by students. I felt safe. I was a ten minute walk from campus, five minutes from the grocery store, and twenty minutes from the city centre which was the centre of nightlife. I needed to buy bedding when I moved in but the kitchen was fully stocked.

* Food:

I cooked for myself. I limited eating out because it is much more expensive. However, a religious group served a very filling and nutritious lunch on campus for three dollars that I ate at regularly.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

IFSA-Butler took us out to dinner several times, took us to see a local movie, took us on a river trip, and took us on an overnight cruise in Fiordland. These were really enjoyable, although we were doing these activities solely with other Americans except for our program leader.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Dunedin and in New Zealand in general. I did not have any experience with healthcare while I was in New Zealand. There are not any prevalent health issues in New Zealand, and I did not need any vaccines specifically for this program.

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? approximately $70 NZ I cooked for myself. It probably would have saved me some money to have cooked with others.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? In order to really experience the country, certain expenses are unavoidable. This includes money for transportation as well as costs for special activities such as skiing, walking on a glacier, etc.


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

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program is great for geology students. It is also ideal for students who really enjoy the outdoors.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Field Studies and New Zealand Geology

Course Department: Geology 252
Instructor: Ewan Fordyce and Dushan Jugum
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was focused around two week-long field camps that took advantage of the diversity of rocks and geological features on the South Island of New Zealand. The field camps and the assignments associated with them were very challenging. However the weekly labs and assignments associated with them were much less challenging. The professors and teaching assistants were very knowledgeable and prepared but were not as available for answering questions as Wellesley professors (this was mostly due to the class size being about ten times larger). I had a harder time participating in this class than classes at Wellesley because there were so many more students.
Credit Transfer Issues: not sure yet
Course Name/Rating:

Maori Society

Course Department: Maori Studies 102
Instructor: Suzanne Boyes
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course greatly increased my knowledge about the native culture of New Zealand. It was minimally challenging, but that was to be expected from a 100-level course. The main lecturer was very knowledgeable and well-prepared. We had a number of guest lecturers with varying specialties.
Credit Transfer Issues: not sure yet
Course Name/Rating:

Rivers and Runoff

Course Department: Geography 288
Instructor: John Orwin
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was very challenging. Expectations for lab reports were very different than I was used to. The course made use of the local stream for laboratories. The professor and demonstrators were knowledgeable and well-prepared. I participated in class and laboratories about the same as I do in Wellesley classes.
Credit Transfer Issues: not sure yet
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental History of New Zealand

Course Department: ENVI 211
Instructor: Tom Brooking
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was New Zealand specific, so it helped in my understanding of the country. It was minimally challenging. There were many guest lecturers, so we nearly always had a lecturer who was very knowledgeable about the lecture topic.
Credit Transfer Issues: not sure yet