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 missed graduation, while abroad, and still I know it was the right decision. I felt bold in deciding to go abroad at the point in my academic career and I feel that my time abroad forced me to grow up and expand my horizons in ways that would not have been possible at Wellesley.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Very much differed from class to class. Geology classes were very rigorous. Professors were interesting and engaged with students even in big classes. Ultimately, while challenging, these were my most rewarding academic experiences in New Zealand. Other classes in other departments were noticeably weaker. While they may have been easier, it was less obvious what was expected and grading schemes often seemed a bit random.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IFSA-Butler had a coordinator who was a grad student at the University of Otago. He was super pleasant and kind, very sensitive to any issues that came up with us and always willing to help. Again, I could not have been more pleased.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

89 Dundas Street, flat with 3 other students, including a Kiwi Host (female), 1 American male , and 1 German male. <br /><br /> Lived in University flat, mostly satisfied. It was very comfortable, though a bit small and cold. Location was ideal, only 2 minutes from campus. I was treated very well by my Kiwi Host, who was pretty hands-off, but helpful when I needed her. We were always near activities, but it was often quiet in my flat, which I found to be the right fit for me.

* Food:

Cooked for myself, many good takeout spots on George Street as well as many traditional American places on Great King St (McDonalds, Dominoes, KFC...)

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Going to Marae was amazing, so too was the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I always felt safe and was well treated when I was sick for a couple of weeks. I was, however, robbed just before leaving the country in Auckland and so, unfortunately, had a negative exit. Be careful not to leave anything even in a locked car at tourist sites, even if you are stopping by for only 5 minutes...

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? 100 US Dollars at least.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget, watch out for speeding tickets (there are a lot of cameras and tickets will just show up in the mail...) Be aware of the exchange rate!


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?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Think carefully about what you are studying and how important it is that you find the academic program to be a key contributor to your happiness while abroad. Think about how much you like partying (the drinking scene is huge) and, if not, whether you will be brave enough to plan weekend trips to hike or site-see. New Zealand is beautiful, but it does take some effort to get around...think about buying a cheap car or splitting it with friends.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Field Studies and New Zealand Geology

Course Department: GEOL 252
Instructor: R. Ewan Fordyce and others
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was a very challenging course that offered 2 nearly week long field trips. I was fascinated by how well run these trips were, given that the class had an enrollment of 80 students. The instructors and teaching assistants were all very helpful and offered individual aid, even when it was not requested. Overall, I had the sense that I would have been a very strong geologist, had I done my entire major in the department at Otago
Credit Transfer Issues: No