Gaining Independence in a Beautiful Country Past Review

By (Trinity University) - abroad from 06/26/2014 to 11/10/2014 with

IFSA: Dunedin - University of Otago

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much about being independent and adapting to other cultures and ways of living. I made so many great friends from all over the world who I was able to share my experience with and who easily fell in love with this beautiful country with me. It was the most worthwhile experience of my life.

Review Photos

IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo IFSA-Butler: Dunedin - University of Otago Photo

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.

One of the reasons I picked the University of Otago was because of the large variety of courses they offer for every major. I was able to pick classes that applied to my majors and not getting into a class was not an issue. The class time was split weekly with a perfect balance of lectures, labs, and tutorials, and the work load was never extremely overwhelming. I took 4 classes, which is equivalent to 18 US credit hours, and I felt like it was a perfect load. The library provided a great amount of resources to use when writing papers as well and was also a great place to study. I know a few classes that a lot of international students take at the first-year level are very easy and not as rigorous as other classes, but it all depends on the course load you're looking for.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IFSA-Butler staff did a great job at providing tons of information and cultural experiences throughout my time abroad. They met us at the airport and already knew all of our names before we even officially met them. The orientation process at the YMCA Shakespear lodge was a great way to get over jet-lag and get to know the country and other international students before jumping right into school. The events they scheduled throughout the semester were amazing as well. The international student orientation and events planned by the University of Otago itself were also very helpful for me as an international student becoming familiar with the campus for the first time.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I couldn't have asked for a better living arrangement. I lived in a flat with 4 other international students and a Kiwi host, a student from New Zealand enrolled at the University. We shared a bathroom, which honestly never became an issue even though all 6 of us shared it, as well as a living room and kitchen area. We each had our own bedrooms, which were a really nice size with a full-sized bed. We lived in a flat complex with 4 other flats, and we all became super close very quickly. UniFlats does a great job at matching people up with other flatmates and their office was easily accessible to international students who had inquiries about anything. The locations of the flats were a quick 3-5 minute walk to campus, and about an 8-10 minute walk to the nearest grocery store.

* Food:

Food was kind of pricey, but it is easy to find the cheapest groceries once you get used to everything at the store. In my flat we had flat dinners, where we all took turns cooking for everyone, which was pretty cost-efficient. Eating out all the time will cost a lot of money, so eating food in your flat is probably a better idea. Save eating out for special occasions.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very integrated with the local culture, especially since Dunedin is such a small college town. The university does a great job at advertising events on campus as well as in the community that you can easily take part in if you want to. I always felt like I knew what was going on in the town.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was only really sick once, and I went to the health care center and they recommended what medicine I should buy. The health care center was easily accessible on campus, although I wouldn't recommend waiting until you are really sick before you go. As for vaccines, none are required for this program and there weren't any prevalent health issues there, besides the fact that during winter many people catch colds and it's really easy to pass around to your flatmates if you aren't careful.

* Safety:

Honestly I felt more safe in Dunedin than I've ever felt in America. I felt safe anywhere I traveled in New Zealand. With such a small population, there are fewer people everywhere, and the people I did encounter were always so nice and helpful. I did hear of some flats being broken into and things being stolen, but that was mainly because many students wouldn't lock the doors to their flat. Even though it's really easy to feel safe in Dunedin, it is still important to always lock the doors, especially at night.

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)

I wouldn't spend much during the week, but when I would travel on the weekends, I would always spend a lot more.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? NZ$80 - NZ$100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I will admit that I could have done better at budgeting my money. It's really hard since you're not working or receiving any income, and when you're traveling it is easy to spend up to $400 in a weekend. Don't eat out a lot, and most importantly, save up as much money as possible before going abroad, that way you won't be limited in what you are able to do when you're there due to a lack of money.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living in a flat complex
  • Traveling around the country
  • Being in a small college town
* What could be improved?
  • Heating in the flats during winter
  • Budgeting money better
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I definitely wish I had known how much I would be traveling, which is so easy to do in such a small country as New Zealand, so I could have saved up more money. That's really the only thing I would have changed, because everything else ended up working out perfectly.