Study Abroad in University of Otago
It was always clear to me that I should go abroad one day. The study of geology in Germany is also top-notch internationally, but in a country like New Zealand it is something else. New Zealand has always been my dream destination for such an undertaking, it just always sounded like paradise to me. In addition to the course itself, the language also played a decisive role for me, as my English skills were never bad, but of course have improved immensely in the six months.
Preparation and accommodation
The preparation is relatively harmless, although the choice of course can sometimes be problematic. With any problems, however, both MicroEDU and the on-site supervisors are very helpful and answer within a few hours. The course selection is not final anyway and can be changed again within the first two weeks on site. Otherwise, apart from an apartment, there isn’t that much that needs to be taken care of. The easiest way to do this is to use the International Flats offered by the International Office. These are a bit more expensive than usual, but offer greatly simplified contact to other international students (who are mostly American here) and perfect service for any problems.
At the International Flats there are different options for Bachelor and Master students. As a Bachelor student, I lived in a large flat with a total of 6 people, with a so-called Kiwi host always in the apartment with this size. This is a New Zealander who is the easiest contact person to make sure that you can find your way around Dunedin. The other 4 roommates are assigned to you on the basis of a survey, usually that fits pretty well. Personally, I also have an international complex in which 7 of these flats were next to each other in a backyard in the immediate vicinity of the university. On the one hand, this means that there is always something going on (in terms of a party it really isn’t wrong) and, above all, that there is always someone there who wants to go on some kind of trip.
Most of the studies take place on the campus, the center of which is beautiful 200-year-old buildings. The rest of the campus, however, is strongly reminiscent of the charm that is also known from German universities. The lecture halls I saw, however, are all absolutely fine.
The quality of teaching, as far as I can tell, is very similar to that in Germany and heavily dependent on the professor. The grade is usually achieved through a few achievements during the semester (usually worth 30-50%) and an exam at the end of the semester, but there are also a few exceptions. As part of my geology studies, I took two courses in New Zealand, which only consist of excursions and related reports and therefore only have to write two exams. The excursions here were very interesting and also appropriate in terms of level, possibly lagging a little behind the German level in terms of difficulty.
If you are being honest, this is the most important point. A study in New Zealand is of course attractive, but definitely not due to studies itself, but because of the opportunities outside. The nature, especially on the South Island, is absolutely amazing.
A car makes things a lot easier. There are numerous short walks (e. g. Signal Hill, Flagstaff or Mt. Cargill), numerous very beautiful and secluded beaches to see (e. g. Sandfly Bay or Allans Beach) and also an albatross and penguin colony in the immediate vicinity of Dunedin Proximity. The really big goals are at least 3 hours away by car. The best thing to do is to organize the car on site, possibly even together with your roommates.
In summer you should take advantage of the mostly relatively good weather to hike as much as possible, if that’s your thing. There are dozens of worthwhile tracks of all lengths (a few minutes to a few weeks) and levels of difficulty (completely flat to high mountains) that are maintained by the Department of Conservation. In summer some of the tracks are very busy (especially the so-called Great Walks) but you will – no matter which semester you are there in – also be there in a colder season when all the tracks are relatively empty. Either way: hiking, or hitchhiking as the Kiwis call it, is worth it.
In winter it is then also possible to go skiing. The ski areas are not comparable to the European slopes due to the length of the slopes, but they are definitely very worthwhile. If you are planning to make several trips to the ski areas, you should definitely pay attention to the special offers for students during the O week
Housing costs around $ 700 a month and food is also very expensive (especially beer, dairy products, meat, etc. ). Fuel is also a little more expensive and that is a problem in particular, since the routes are all relatively long and hilly and the cars you will be driving are not exactly fuel-efficient. You can usually get a ‘good’ car for $ 1000-1500, so be sure to check out TradeMe (the New Zealand equivalent of eBay). Depending on what you want to do, you also have to plan a lot for your free time. Hiking is pretty much for free, but you can also have fun like bungee jumping, skydiving or all sorts of action sports around Queenstown or, for example, visit glowworm caves or go to Hobbiton. If you want to do all of it
- No matter what you want to study: Go to the South Island! Nature is just so much better. If somehow you can go to Dunedin. Christchurch is not bad either, but is still suffering from the aftermath of the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011.
- Get a car. It makes traveling extremely easy.
- That brings us to the next point: Get out into nature. It is absolute madness. If you don’t do that, it’s your own fault. Absolute must-see destinations are Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, the West Coast, Nelson Lakes, the Paradise area, the Catlins and much more – there is just so much to see.
- Try to bring as much hiking gear as you can (sleeping bag, shoes, etc. ): It simply costs a fortune in New Zealand.
- If you’re going to Dunedin, go to International Flats. The care is great and the apartments are all absolutely fine.
- As I said: Avoid studying in the North Island. Auckland is awful and the other cities don’t seem worthwhile either. The nature cannot be compared with that on the South Island either.
Every time again and exactly like I did now. Half the year was probably the best time of my life.