Skip to Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu
Search

Category Archives: Exploring

Curious, questioning and “delightful” research – a French student’s perspective

Rachel Ginieis is studying towards a PhD in Food Science and Psychology, at the University of Otago.

People usually describe me as a little bit hyperactive and crazy!  The crazy part usually results in building innovative projects and developing new ideas while I often use the hyperactivity part to realize those projects in a dynamic way. But I’m also tempted to describe myself as curious. Understanding processes, reactions, reasons why …since I was a child, I have always asked heaps of questions. I came to Dunedin in 2016 for a 6-month internship studying the effect of sweetness on cognitive functions. That time fuelled my interest and passion for sensory science and neuroscience, mainly due to the trust that Dr Mei Peng (Senior Lecturer, Department of Food Science, University of Otago) had in me. We ended up writing and publishing my first paper on the topic as well. 

Dunedin is more than 20,000 km away from Montpellier, my hometown in France, and I first came here with my friend Agathe for the opportunity to discover a new culture and have the kind of life experience which happens only once. Since being here we have seen breath-taking landscapes every single weekend, hitchhiked all over New Zealand, and met amazing people; but we were always back on Monday morning, ready to do more research.

My love for the topic never stopped and I returned to start my PhD, again under supervision of Dr Mei Peng, Professor Elizabeth Franz and Professor Indrawati Oey. My “baby” which we often call our PhD project (although sometimes I think that it would be easier to have an actual baby) is about assessing a Human Sensory Fingerprint, including all five senses, and see if we can link individual sensory perceptions to modifications of the brain’s reward circuitry. This brain pathway evolved to increase organism’s behaviours that improve its chances to survive. However an over-stimulation of this circuitry can alter this pathway and lead to different type of addictions and compulsive behaviours. My research could bring some explanations to the overconsumption and craving for sweet, salty and fatty food around the world. I find it exciting and I am looking forward to another one and a half years full of craziness, hyperactivity and curiosity…. and “envoûtante” research, which means “bewitching” or “delightful”.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, both from Otago, she is passionate about education, and the places it can take you.

Study Abroad at Otago – if you love what you do, you can do it here.

Fox Meyer came to the University of Otago from Washington DC, originally for one semester, but one semester proved not long enough, and he extended his stay for a year.  We caught up with Fox, as he is a bit of an international student super-star, and asked him why he came to Otago?  What he experienced when he was here – the good and the bad, and the combination of factors that make the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand, located at the very bottom of the world, such a special place.

“Plenty of schools have good geology programmes, and plenty of schools are in wonderful locations, I chose Otago, because it has both.”

The style of learning was different to what Meyer was used to back home, more independent and ultimately down to personal motivation.  If you’re passionate, the academics will do everything they can to help you.

“Academically, the kiwi attitude towards failure was very healthy.  Professors won’t hesitate to fail you if you aren’t making the grade, but that’s not the end of the world.  They don’t sugar-coat anything.  You’re there to learn, and you need to be wrong in order to learn.  I’m glad the staff felt the same way.”

The majority of geology coursework involved fieldwork, plenty of time in tents and streams, resulting in a final product as opposed to an exam, which was perfect for Meyer’s learning style.

Otago has encouraged me to do any sort of project I could conceive of, and point me in the right direction when I’ve needed help.” 

This independence and interest for his subject led to assisting a professor looking at the thermal properties of the Otago harbour.  The data obtained from this is useful in tracking climate change, as well as prospecting potential geothermal taps.  On a whim, Meyer applied for the inaugural ‘Think New Grant,’ from Education New Zealand, and won it!

“I think that part of the reason I won was because I had so much fun applying; enthusiasm for one’s study can often be contagious, so big ups to Otago for fostering that curiosity.”

When asked what a stand out feature of studying at Otago was, Meyer refers to the social lifestyle at Otago as an international student:

“Living in the international community is a wonderful bubble. There’s something going on every night of the week, you’ll meet folks from all over the world, and if you don’t know how to cook, now’s the time to learn!”

And once again, the learning and teaching environment are top of mind:

“I was given a lot of creative freedom and deadline flexibility to produce an end product that I was happy with.  That being said, expectations are very high.  You had to ask for help, you had to explore, and you really had to get your feet wet.  That’s a good way of describing Otago:  it’s very easy to get your feet wet, and if you’d like, you can dive a whole lot deeper.”

Best memory?

“I have a year of best memories.  The most humbling was during field camp when I’d just submitted my first map sheet, and I thought I was really hot stuff.  I felt really big for my boots, was very confident with my lab experience back in the States.  Boy, was I mistaken.  Way off!  My map sheet made no sense at all and the lecturers tore it to shreds.  I asked for advice, listened to their advice, went back out, and got a 98% on my next map.  Otago taught me not to think I know too much.  There’s always room for improvement.”

Worst experience?

“Leaving Otago.  It’s that good.  If you’re someone who likes their independence, who can work hard and play hard, there’s really nowhere else to go.  Definitely not Auckland.” 

Future plans?

“I’ll be back to New Zealand as soon as I can, I’d like to explore jobs in the geothermal sector.  I really believe New Zealand has both the natural potential and the social support to become a geothermal powerhouse.”

Great to catch up with you Fox, congratulations on graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Geology, we wish you all the very best with your future endeavours.

Our favourite takeaway quote from chatting:

“If you love what you do, you can do it here.”

To find out more about studying at the University of Otago, click the big yellow button below and start your journey!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, both from Otago, she is passionate about education, and the places it can take you.

Why is Dunedin the wildlife capital of NZ?

The topic of our native and particularly endemic wildlife in New Zealand, and Dunedin is a passion close to my heart.  I think you will find that many local Dunedin people feel the same way that I do, we recognise the precious taonga that we are surrounded by, and increasingly we are feeling a need to protect, care for and nurture these remarkable animals that made their lives here long before humans walked on our shores.  This blog is also timed to promote the upcoming ‘Wild Dunedin – New Zealand Festival of Nature‘, that runs from 22 – 28 April 2019.  

Let’s find out some of the reasons that two of the most well known and passionate naturalists in the world used these words to describe our environment – ” Otago Peninsula and Taiaroa Head is a unique and very special place. It is a place that every visitor to Dunedin should see” – Sir David Attenborough. ” In my opinion the Otago Peninsula is the finest example of eco-tourism in the world” Professor David Bellamy.

The Northern Royal Albatross/Toroa

We have so many taonga to choose from, it really is a question of where to start?  But I think starting with this magnificent sea bird is the place – the Northern Royal Albatross or Toroa.  This largest of all sea birds spends it’s entire life at sea, only returning to land to breed.  And the Otago Peninsula, and specifically Taiaroa Head is the only mainland breeding colony in the world.

Yes, you can visit, observe and learn more about this at risk species by visiting the Royal Albatross Centre.  Birds mate for life and return to raise one chick every year between them.  Due to various challenges human intervention has proved to be necessary.   Chicks are carefully monitored and assisted with the least amount of stress as possible to enable them to continue spreading their enormous wing span of over three metres around the world.  Follow the drama, often hilarity and sometimes tragedy of the albatross breeding season on the Department of Conservations Royal Cam.

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin/Hoiho (photo credit: Shaun Templeton).

Yellow Eyed Penguin/Hoiho and Little Blue Penguin/Kororā

I haven’t met many people that don’t find these quirky birds endearing.  Perhaps it is the comical way in which they waddle to and from the ocean on a daily basis, or the soap opera style lives they lead when it comes to finding, securing and keeping a mate!  Either way, I have no doubt that you will fall in love with either the Yellow Eyed Penguin/Hoiho and the world’s smallest penguin the Little Blue Penguin/Kororā, both of which can be found and observed on the Otago Peninsula.  Sadly, both species are threatened and at risk but the people of Dunedin don’t just sit idly by.  Initiatives like Penguin Place, a private conservation area rely solely on their tours to fund the conservation of the Yellow Eyed – including restoration of habitat, predator control and a rehabilitation centre for sick and injured birds.

An adult male and two juvenile male NZ Sealions, previously known as the Hooker’s Sea Lion.

 

New Zealand Fur Seal/Kekeno & New Zealand sea lion / rāpoka / whakahao

The New Zealand Fur Seal is sometimes mistaken for its larger neighbour the New Zealand Sea Lion, but there are some distinct differences that will help you identify which is which:

1. The fur seal is found in abundance all around the Otago peninsula, the sea lion is endangered with an albeit increasing, but much smaller population.

2.  The fur seal is distinctly smaller than the sea lion.

3.  Both male and female fur seals have a pointy nose unlike the sea lion.

4.  Seals prefer rocky outcrops to sunbathe, whereas sealions will often be seen lying on one of Dunedin’s many sandy beaches.

Recently there have been instances of the public attempting to interact with these animals, so if you are visiting Dunedin please take the time to read here about why you must leave them be, and tips on how to deal with an encounter with a sea lion. 

New Zealand Marine Studies Centre

It should come as no surprise, given that we live right on the doorstep of the South Pacific Ocean and that we are home to New Zealand’s first university, that we have a marine studies centre.  The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre is located at Portobello, a beautiful 20 minute drive from Dunedin city.

The University of Otago uses this as their practical base to conduct research, but also as a way to showcase local marine life and to educate.  The centre is no longer open to the public but during the ‘Wild Dunedin – New Zealand Festival of Nature‘, there are sessions open to the public where you can join a marine scientist to find out about marine food webs and who eats what in the ocean in ‘Wild Food Webs and Fishy Feasts.’ 

The reintroduction of Kaka at Orokonui Ecosanctuary is believed to be the first to the South Island mainland.

Orokonui Ecosanctuary

Across the harbour from the Otago Peninsula is another remarkable, locally led conservation project – the Orokonui Ecosanctuary.  Over 300 hectares of native New Zealand bush has been eradicated of predators and due to a predator proof fence is now home to an ever increasing population of native NZ birds, reptiles and plants.

The Ecosanctuary really is an example of what happens when a idea becomes a plan, and that plan becomes a reality.  Walking inside the gates of this impressive project feels very much like stepping back in time to what New Zealand would have been like prior to the arrival of humans.  Tui, Bellebird, Kaka, Takahe and Kiwi are some of the many birds who have been brought to live within this sanctuary and their numbers are on the up.

If you want to get up close and personal with NZ native birds, on their terms, this place is a must.  Plus, you’ll find a cafe, gift shop and plenty of educational resources available.  If you’re interested in finding out just what bird you are listening to, I found this fabulous resource from DOC that provides audio for some of the songs and calls of New Zealand birds.

This little guy was plucking his feathers out around a wound site, so staff decided a onesie would provide the solution to that problem, and it did!

The Wildlife Hospital

We have a Wildlife Hospital, and if that isn’t testament enough to our claims regarding being the wildlife capital, I don’t know what is.  I have not visited the hospital, so have taken this description from their website:

“The Wildlife Hospital is a partnership with Otago Polytechnic, and its School of Veterinary Nursing.  We’re also collaborating with many other organisations across the community, to create opportunities for education, training and research.

Before the hospital opened, sick or injured endangered species were flown to the North Island for treatment – a journey that seriously reduced their chances of pulling through. Animals that aren’t endangered were left to either fight for themselves, or were euthanased.

A quick, local response, maximises the survival rates of all native wildlife. Ultimately, we’ll be increasing animal populations right across the lower South Island.

Up to 80% of the native species in New Zealand are now under threat of extinction, and while there are many great initiatives to reduce predators and increase safe havens for these animals, there is a pressing need to save every single one we can – right now.  As habitats are slowly recovered, we need to make sure the animals are still in existence to populate them.”

A Southern Right Whale mother and calf. Photo courtesy of Steve Dawson from the University of Otago.

Southern Right Whale

When early settlers arrived in Otago they were kept awake at night by the noise created by Southern Right Whales who used the harbour as a natural nursery to safely birth their young. The name ‘right’ whale was given by the whalers who came here to hunt them as they were so easy to kill.  Our history with this beautiful animal is a very sad one, at one stage the population of this species due to commercial whaling operations was down to a couple of hundred animals – thankfully now that number is in the thousands.

As the whale population increases, so do sightings around Otago.  What used to be rare is now more common place as the animals take up their natural migratory routes and return to their ‘rightful’ (excuse the pun) place.  University of Otago researchers have been studying the population that lives near the Auckland Islands and this will no doubt continue to assist in understanding and protecting this recovering population.

Dunedin, Otago Peninsula & harbour

Well, there we have it, and there is so much more to say on this topic that I may have to revisit it!  I haven’t even mentioned the thousands of sea birds that nest along our rocky coastlines, the orca and dolphins that frequent our harbour, literally stopping traffic as people pull over in their vehicles trying to take a picture.  Take a look at the ‘Wild Dunedin – NZ Festival of Nature’ programme and see all the opportunities to immerse, educate and engage yourself in.   Ultimately in doing so you will help protect our precious taonga and we will be able to continue to call Dunedin, the Wildlife Capital of New Zealand.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Accommodation at Otago – where will I stay?

So, you’re thinking of being brave, adventurous and independent and leaving your home country to come and study at the University of Otago?  We love to see all the new and returning faces of our international students, and we also like to think that we can answer a few of the many questions you may have before you get on board that plane and take a leap of faith to come to our beautiful little corner of the world.  So today’s blog focuses on where you will live when you come here, we’ve got a few options to offer accommodation wise – it all depends on what kind of living experience you are looking for, so here we go!


University Flats (Uni Flats)

Uni Flats is probably our most popular option for international students.  Before I go any further I think a little translation of kiwi is necessary, a flat in New Zealand is actually accommodation, often a house like the one pictured above, which is shared with others.  These flats are very close to campus so you will be right in the heart of student life.  Each flatmate has their own bedroom with kitchen, bathroom, laundry and living areas as shared spaces.  So you’re living pretty independently, but you’re not alone.

The S1 2019 Uni Flats rowing team came third in the inter-college rowing competition.

Any full time international student who is coming to Otago for one or two semesters can apply to live in a Uni Flat.  Up to six international students live in a co-ed flat, accompanied by one or two kiwi hosts.  A kiwi host is a New Zealand student, who will help you settle in to your new environment and this is one of the best ways to assimilate into a culture – by hanging out with the locals!  These flats are extremely popular and are managed by the University, are autonomous but offer a supportive and pastoral care service, have plenty of recreational and social activities – so if you’re thinking of coming to Otago, make sure you apply as soon as possible.

Knox College

Residential Colleges

If you like the idea of having your breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared for you (sounds good to me), and enjoy meeting and living with lots of people, perhaps one of our residential colleges is what you need?  We have 15 residential colleges at Otago that accommodate 3,500 students and plans are afoot to build more!  There are so many different options, if you like the idea of a traditional, historic and architecturally impressive college, look no further than the castle like Knox College (pictured above) or Selwyn College.

Looking out across campus from Unicol

Or if you want to be right in the heart of campus St Margaret’s College is one to note, or take a look at the view from Unicol (University College) in the photo above – Unicol is our largest and possibly liveliest college.  We also understand that post-graduate students may also like the care provided by a college, but aren’t quite as interested in the social aspect so we have a designated post-graduate college – Abbey College.

Private, Short Term or Temporary Accommodation

If for whatever reason you’re not interested in flatting, or living in a college, or you’re just wanting to find private accommodation, or accommodation for a short time or you have any queries our international accommodation adviser from the University of Otago Accommodation Centre can offer advice – international.accommodation@otago.ac.nz.

Dunedin flats in general require a particular mention here, recently Sarah Gallagher, of the Dunedin Flat Names Project, and Dr Ian Chapman, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at the University of Otago, have collaborated together to create a visually appealing and witty book entitled ‘Scarfie Flats of Dunedin’ featuring a selection of well known and lesser known named flats – yes, students have named their flats.

And remember If past domestic and international student’s testimonials are anything to go by, the time you spend at Otago, outside of classes and laboratories will no doubt lead you to new experiences, opportunities, friendships and memories that will stay with you for your lifetime.  Many alumni lament and say……oh, those were the days……take me back to Otago……!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

International Women’s Day – a look at the past, present and future of women at Otago.

International Women’s Day, the mere idea of this notion would have been considered ridiculous 150 years ago during the early days of Otago University.  I think it is important on a day like today for everybody – men and women, to remember the women that came before.  The women that literally paved the way for the women of today, and opened up doors that had been closed shut and bolted to women for time immortal.  Today’s blog focuses on just a couple of these remarkable women (there are so many to mention), from the past, the present and is a reminder for the future that whilst we are still not yet on an equal playing field, much has been done and the collective attitudes of men and women including perceptions and behaviour can make a difference to future generations.

Caroline Freeman

You just cannot go past a discussion on International Women’s Day at the University of Otago without mentioning Caroline Freeman.   In 1878 Caroline Freeman became the first matriculated woman to enrol at the University of Otago.  At this time she lived in Green Island, which in those days required her to walk 11 kilometres after lectures in a long dress, through muddy wet tracks.  Her health suffered as a result and she was forced to find accommodation in Dunedin.  Her academic environment also proved to be hostile with Professor of Classics G.S. Sale, known to be a ‘veritable ogre’ to female students.  A staff member once commented that had Freeman been a fighting man, rather an a studious woman, she would have been merited for her ‘pluck and perserverance.’  Caroline Freeman graduated in 1885, to a large applause with flowers thrown across the stage, and by the time of her capping 11 more women were enrolled at the university at different levels.   Recognition of her courage, perserverance and passion for education was highlighted when the University of Otago named one of their residential colleges after her – Caroline Freeman College.  

Emily Siedeberg

Next up on our list of those who paved the way is Emily Hancock Siedeberg.  From an early age her father believed she should train as a doctor, she accepted this and the pair went through the process of enrolling her.   Although the university council had already decided that medical training should be open to both women and men, her decision was certainly not celebrated – some showed enthusiasm while others were openly hostile.  The dean of the Otago Medical School Dr John Scott was reluctant, but alongside other staff accepted the university’s decision so that in April 1891 Emily became a medical student, graduating in 1896 as New Zealand’s first woman medical graduate.  During her time as a student she was told not to show her feelings, to keep men at a distance and not be frivolous.  She went on to complete a BSc, and did postgraduate work in obstetrics, gynaecology and children’s diseases.  In 1898 with considerable financial support from her father she registered as a medical practioner and set up private practice in Dunedin, which she maintained for the next 30 years.

Ethel Benjamin

Ethel Benjamin was New Zealand’s first woman lawyer – and we have to mention here that the University of Otago was the first university in Australasia to permit women to pursue a law degree – I don’t know about you, but permit?  Seriously?  It seems crazy now.  This really shows how much these women had to fight for what is taken as a given today.  Benjamin graduated with an Bachelor of Laws (LLB) in July 1897, and at her graduation she made the official reply on behalf of the graduands. This was the first time a current graduand rather than a past graduate had made the speech, and it was also the first occasion any woman had made an official speech at the university.

However the Otago District Law Society did not take kindly to a woman entering their male dominated profession.  Discrimation against her included restricted access to the society’s library, an attempt to propose an alternative dress code to the wig and gown, her complete exclusion from annual bar dinners and whereas young members were usually offered support, she received little.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Otago – Professor Harlene Hayne

It is 2019 and the year that the university celebrates 150 years of education and achievement.  When it comes to talking about present women at the University of Otago we cannot go past the fact that the Vice-Chancellor of our university is a woman.  Effectively she is at the top of the food chain here, well above my rank and station, so I decided that Professor Hayne could probably address her own thoughts on International Women’s Day herself, in her own words, this excerpt was taken from the VC’s Comment –  Issue 42. of the Otago Magazine:

Since my appointment as Vice-Chancellor in 2011, much has been made about my gender. I was the first woman to lead the Psychology Department at the University of Otago and the first woman to become a Deputy Vice-Chancellor. I am the first woman to be the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Otago and only the second woman to become a Vice-Chancellor in New Zealand.

Every time the issue of my gender is raised, however, it takes me by surprise. In the course of my own academic career, my gender has never been an issue. I have never felt that people have expected less of me because I am a woman, and I never felt that a glass ceiling prevented me from pursuing my goals and aspirations.

When I was growing up, my father used to tell me that girls could do anything. At Otago, I have certainly found that to be true. In this way, my own career has been remarkably gender blind.

But I recognise that the privilege of gender blindness is due, in part, to the historical period in which I live and to the places in which I have been lucky enough to grow up, study and work. I know too that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to those women who came before me.

As a university, we have a very proud history when it comes to women.

Dr Carla Meledandri

Dr Carla Meledandri from the Department of Chemistry is an expert in nanoscience, the world’s smallest particles, working at a scale of billionths of a metre.  But don’t be fooled by her tiny content, she and her colleagues are looking to tackle the world’s largest problems – ranging from dental decay to climate change.

“Pushing the boundaries of fundamental research is vital – taking what we have found and applying it to solve problems follows on.”

Her expertise in nanoscience, working at a scale of billionths of a metre, helped win her the 2017 Prime Minister’s MacDiarmid Emerging Scientist Prize, the latest in a series of research awards.

Interdisciplinary collaborations with the Faculty of Dentistry have enabled the development of new materials designed to treat some of the causes of oral disease rather than the symptoms, hopefully leading to reduced costs and improving health worldwide.

The Future?

What about the women of the future?  The young women like the ones pictured above who are exploring the world, educating themselves and finding out what makes them tick?  Well, their future (and those of us who are somewhat further down the life journey) is down to all of us, men and women.  We must learn from the past – celebrate success, challenge stereotypes, support each other, don’t accept pay inequality and not settle for anything less than our male counterparts, and that takes all of us.  It’s all about balance.   Happy International Women’s Day!

Special note to Te Ara – the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand for much of the historical content.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Recreation at Otago = Unipol.

If you’re new to the University of Otago you will hear people talking about Unipol.  No, it’s not some undercover university police operation……Unipol is a very weird name…..it is an amalgamation of the university and the polytechnic and it doesn’t give you any idea of what it is all about….. but let’s not worry about the name, I don’t think it will be changing anytime soon, let’s focus on what Unipol is all about, because there is a LOT to talk about!

What is Unipol?

Unipol is the University of Otago’s recreation centre.  And it is some centre. Unipol Recreation Services offers a huge choice of recreational activities, including cardio and weights, sports halls, group fitness, outdoor rental, social sport and outdoor adventures.  Unipol is all about balancing your studies and keeping a smile on your face.

Prior to 2011, Unipol was housed in an awesome old art-deco building just a 5-minute walk from campus, but the demand for a bigger, and more up to date facility saw the creation of this amazing building, which is also home to the UOLCFY (University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year) and right next to New Zealand’s only covered stadium – Forsyth Barr Stadium.  Our stadium raises the roof by hosting international sporting events, including our famous All Blacks, and a range of world class entertainment, including Pink, Kendrik Lamar, Elton John (who loved it so much here he’s coming back on his final tour) and Ed Sheeran.

Who can use Unipol?

Entry into the Unipol Recreation Services is free for University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students with presentation of their ID card.

It is also available for use by University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic staff and their whānau and friends.

 University approved recreation providers

Get in touch with your inner explorer, venture beyond campus and experience the natural beauty that Dunedin has to offer with a variety of outdoor adventures from local University approved recreation providers. Be sure to use your valid student ID card to get special student discounts!

Surfing

This mobile surf school based at The Esplanade, St Clair Beach, offer learn to surf sessions for beginners through to advanced lessons for those wanting to extend their local knowledge. Your wave is waiting!

Esplanade Surf School

Walks

A variety of walking excursions around Dunedin, the peninsula and surrounding coast lines. You will come across plenty of wildlife so bring your camera!

Untamed NZ Tour Company

Dunedin Adventures Ltd

Mountain biking

Love mountain biking? From sandy beaches to native forests Dunedin, and it’s surrounding area, have some amazing tracks to be explored.

Offtrack MTB Tours

Windsurfing/SUP

Experience the exhilaration and fun of windsurfing and/or stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on the beautiful Otago Harbour. It’s sure to blow your hair back!

Watercooled Sports

Ice hockey

Learn to play ice hockey, focusing on skating, puck handling, passing and shooting while having loads of fun.

Dunedin Ice Hockey

Sea kayaking

Picture yourself in a sea kayak cruising amongst Otago’s coastal wildlife while paddling around the beautiful Otago Peninsula. Get ready to see the unexpected.

Wild Earth Adventures

Rock climbing

Take a break from your study with a rock climbing adventure. Choose between an introduction course or advance your skills with some lead climbing!

Dunedin Adventures Ltd

Unipol staff – they’re a good bunch

This is Dan and Liz, two of the team that take care of all things Unipol and they are good sorts – they are pretty funny, smile a lot and enjoy life.  It’s probably because they follow their own advice and know how good exercise makes you feel, and I’m guessing they do a fair bit of it.  So take their advice, go into Unipol and see what you can find to put a smile on your dial.

Thanks to the Unipol website for providing a lot of the information contained in this blog.

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Orientation at Otago – a snapshot!

Whether you are a new or returning student one thing you all have in common is the chance to be involved in the celebrations, events and information sessions that make up the University of Otago Orientation Week!  From attending the Convocation Ceremony – the official and formal welcome to all first year students, to making the most of the star-studded line up of performances, there are plenty of opportunities for you to immerse yourself into the Otago culture and surroundings and along the way meet some like minded people.

Student Village and Tent City

This year we are running a Student Village on campus alongside Tent City in the Museum Reserve from Monday the 17th February through until Wednesday the 19th.

Find out about all the services, support and other opportunities offered by the University including:

Staff from StudyLink will also be in attendance.

University Collegiate Sports Day

During orientation week first-year students from residential colleges, Uni Flats, and the Locals programme meet en masse in a collegiate sports day, complete with chants, flags and uniform t-shirts, to participate in a fun-filled afternoon of social sport.

This is the chance to cement newly formed friendships and get involved in some healthy competition. Sports include touch, netball, soccer and volleyball.

Need some tips on how to succeed at Otago?

Along with course advice available throughout the week, there are also other information sessions aimed at helping you understand what university academic standards and expectations are, and how you can succeed!  Including sessions on how to transition into university successfully,  points for international students on how to succeed academically at Otago, and if you are an international student don’t miss our official welcome and lunch, on Wednesday the 19th February, the food and the kapa-haka performance are always a hit!  Plus we are always on the look out for student stories and if you’re interested in sharing your story, being an ambassador for Otago, or featuring on the cover of one of our international publications, come and see the International Office booth at the expo and talk to us!

OUSA Clubs Day

OUSA has a crazy amount of opportunites for you to try something new, meet new people or perhaps get together with students who have also come here to study from your home country.  With over 160 affiliated clubs and societies on campus you really can’t complain about a lack of options.   Head to Clubs Day on Thursday 20th February to find your fit!

Looking to be entertained?

If you’re looking for pure adrenaline, big crowds and fun, there are a variety of events to choose from, including performances from big name DJ’s and bands (the image above was taken at last year’s orientation) at the Forsyth Barr Stadium, NZ’s only covered stadium, and just a 5 minute walk from campus.  And as the picture below shows you, yes, the famous Toga Party still lives on.  And if you’re a lover of food, don’t miss the International Food Festival on Saturday the 22nd of February, a huge array of delectable delights from around the world are on offer for you to try.

So, what’s our advice to you?  Get involved, try something new, literally be like a sponge and soak it all up.  There are so many choices for recreation, new experiences, study advice and general help available to you, and we like to think we are a friendly bunch of people so always ask if you’re unsure!  Enjoy this special time in your life, as the text in the photo at the top of the blog says it’s a “once in a lifetime experience.”

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago.

Where can an Otago degree take you?

One thing that never ceases to amaze me in my job is the sense of loyalty and pride that the University of Otago imparts on alumni.  International students who have studied at Otago and have integrated into the culture and immersed themselves in all the opportunities have an incredible passion for this university at the bottom of the world.  A passion that continues long after they have left us.

An email sent to our department was forwarded my way last week from a student who graduated with a BSc (Bachelor of Science) in Chemistry in 2012.  From my first glance it was clear that this student wanted to share her story, so I got in touch with Nicole Bravo Castro (nee Wurster) to find out what she had to say about her experiences at Otago.

Nicole exploring the spectacular South Island during her time spent here studying for her undergraduate degree.

Plans change

Nicole Wurster (pictured above) had travelled to NZ from her home in Germany as a high school exchange student.  She never had any intention of staying beyond that time, but plans do change….

“I felt inspired by everyone applying for university and was immediately drawn to the University of Otago –  having been to Dunedin previously on a summer vacation I guess I had already fallen in love with New Zealand’s southern beauty.  Back then, I remember strolling around campus and dreaming about studying at Otago.  I decided to stay for the duration of my entire undergraduate degree.”

Why Otago?

Like many other international students who choose to study here our worldwide reputation and cutting edge research is attractive.  Also, another point that is often mentioned is the welcoming and warm nature of our staff and students, and Dunedin as a whole, Nicole felt immediately at home.  But another reason is the flexibility of our programmes – Otago aims to turn out well rounded graduates who have a broader subject knowledge and skill set than their chosen degree may imply:

Choosing courses at Otago is quite flexible, I could individually select and combine my courses to plan my degree step by step.  I absolutely loved this option as it helped me throughout my studies to develop my strengths – the system allowed me to take a couple of non-scientific subjects in order to give me a broader general knowledge.”

How did you find the learning/teaching environment at Otago?

“I loved it and haven’t come across the same dynamics in any other tertiary educational institution I know.  Otago’s chemistry department put a great focus on teamwork and offered countless opportunities to develop interpersonal skills.  Otago is very modern in both its facilities and its spirit and I developed some core writing skills which I value up to this day.  Lecturers were friendly and felt very authentic, which made every trip to university enjoyable – even the early morning lectures!  The feeling of not being just one of many, but someone individual with something valuable to offer is something I have frequently missed in European universities.”

Nicole (second from left) and friends with the iconic University of Otago clocktower in the background.

What about the student life/culture?

As we have mentioned before the saying ‘one size does not fit all’ is very applicable.  If we are going to be authentic the fact is not every single student that comes to us loves their time here.  But one theme that does come through after all our discussions with international students is that keeping an open mind will allow you to enjoy the culture and the range of experiences more.  “During my entire time as an international student I have felt fully included by my peers and completely immersed into the Otago culture.  I always kept an open mind and am still thrilled about the genuine friendliness of people in Dunedin and their laid back attitude towards life.”

Nicole Bravo Castro today – she credits her time at Otago as a stepping stone to an international mindset and career.

Where are you now?

After completing a Master in Science in Germany and additionally studying for one semester in France, Nicole is now fully employed for the Scottish Company ‘PEAK Scientific’ as territory manager in Northern Germany.

“I love how my job allows me to make use of my chemistry background whilst as the same time giving me the opportunity to speak to a variety of people, using the various languages I speak and benefitting from my international experiences.”

Advice to those thinking of coming here?

“There really is no other place that compares to New Zealand, and Dunedin is particularly gorgeous.  If you love natural beauty, sports and everything else the South Island offers, this is your best choice, it is also a very safe place in the world.  My years at Otago feel like a key stepping stone in my journey towards having a very strong international mind-set, a curiosity for foreign culture and a high level of tolerance towards others.”

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

Dunedin Beaches – we don’t want to boast but…….

It’s funny that Dunedin, New Zealand shares it’s namesake with another city on the other side of the world, Dunedin, Florida. Dunedin Florida has quite a few similarities with ‘our’ Dunedin, including the name itself derived from the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh.  Both cities enjoy a rich Scottish heritage, beautiful parks, a vibrant city and educational opportunities, but I bet you didn’t think that beaches would be one of them?  That’s right, today’s blog is all about Dunedin NZ’s beaches, what they’re like, where they are and we don’t mean to boast, but………they are many and varied and just down right awesome.

The big picture

We’ve used this aerial shot of Dunedin before, but let’s face it, it is absolutely amazing, so why not use it again?  Also, it shows you just how close Dunedin is to the coastline and an array of beaches.  You can’t see all of the coast line in this shot, but it gives you a pretty good indication. In Dunedin, all of our beaches are within approximately a 30 minute drive of the Central City, some as close as 10 minutes away, and that’s where we’ll start with the closest and possibly most popular local beach.

St Clair Beach

St Clair Beach and Hot Salt Water Pool is literally on the doorstep for many Dunedin residents, and only a 10 minute bus or car ride from the Otago University campus.  Not only is this beach blessed with beautiful soft, white sand, the mighty Pacific Ocean that stretches its long legs out from the beach offers surfing opportunities for both beginners and those that love to wet their feet on a regular basis.  If you’re coming to Dunedin and you’ve never surfed before, get some surfing lessons from the locals and see what all the fuss is about.  Or if you prefer a slower pace, take a stroll along the beach and end your walk at one of the many cafes, restaurants and bars that line our most popular of beaches.

Aramoana Beach

Aramoana translates from Maori to English as ‘sea pathway’ and this beach at the mouth of the Otago harbour was probably one of the very first beaches that the European settlers to Otago would have viewed.  Aramoana beach is situated next to a quiet little township that has an array of permanent homes and kiwi baches.  It, like St Clair is a surfing destination, but it also attracts (as most of Dunedin’s beaches do) a range of wildlife that comes ashore and on that note it’s really important that you don’t go near any wildlife you see.  Follow these guidelines on how to behave around our precious and often rare and endangered wildlife taonga – keep your distance, don’t engage, keep your dog (and children) under control and keep noise to a minimum.

Brighton Beach

20km’s South West of Dunedin you’ll find a delightful little seaside town called Brighton.  Again, this beach is popular for surfers and the community around the beach very much embrace a relaxed and easy going lifestyle.

You can hire a boat from the Brighton motorcamp to paddle up and down the stream, at low tide Barney’s Island (at the South end of the beach) is a wonderful place to explore, and you’ll often find families with small children making the most of these peaceful waters.

Surf lifesaving patrols are on duty during the busy summer months and rumour has it that there is a fairly impressive little cafe out there to add to your enjoyment.

Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach is named because of the fact that a man-made tunnel has been carved through the rock in the 1870’s which leads to a sheltered and private beach.  There are many rumours and local legends as to why John Cargill carved this remarkable walkway, including the drowning of one or more of his daughters, or the fact that he wanted to provide his daughters’ with a secluded place in order to be far from the prying eyes that Victorian settlers so avoided.  Either way, it is spectacular.

Tomahawk Beach

So this is just a taste, a mere sampling of the many and varied beaches that Dunedin has to offer, and whilst we aren’t inclined to boast we thought we would share this little clip filmed by Lloyds Bank as a finale!  Tomahawk Beach, and all our Dunedin beaches, look how beautiful you are!

NB:  We would like to make special mention to DunedinNZ.com for their imagery and comprehensive list and information on Dunedin beaches!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!

 

 

Where are they now? 5 questions and answers with an Otago alumni.

There is no shortage of information on what universities can offer prospective international students in regards to programme choice, entrance requirements, accommodation and lifestyle, but once you have reached your goal and walked the stage to receive your hard earned degree or diploma, what next?  Life doesn’t end when your course ends, it is just the beginning!  We decided to catch up with University of Otago alumni Joyce Zhang to find out where she is, what she is doing, and her thoughts on what it is like to be an international student studying at Otago.

University of Otago alumni Joyce Zhang pictured outside our famous clocktower.

What did you study and why?

I studied English at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year UOLCFY and then studied telecommunication (Postgraduate Diploma in Science) in information science department which is on the ninth, tenth and eleventh floors of the Otago Business School building. It was the same major as my Bachelor degree, everyone in my bachelor class in China pursued a higher degree as we believe it will lead to better employability. I thought ‘why not improve my English along with a higher qualification’ so I decided to go overseas.

Where are you now?

I am working as a China Representative for the University of Otago and I am based in Guangzhou, China. I look after student recruitment and partnership engagement in the China market for the Otago University International Office (which I am very proud of – it is a dream for me to work for my university 😊).

Joyce Zhang pictured here with Regional Marketing Manager for China, Dan Prain at an Education NZ Fair in Beijing, China last month.

Fondest memory of Otago

My fondest memory of Otago was my international friendships – you never lose them even though you’re not in the same country. A Japanese girl I met in Language Centre helped me a lot to improve my oral English so I achieved IELTS 7 in speaking after only 1 month of my arrival in NZ. A Korean girl with a working holiday visa invited me to visit her in Seoul two years ago, and we went to Shanghai Disneyland this March. I also met a nice couple from Denmark who studied as exchange students and we visited the Dunedin Chinese Garden and went skiing together. I am so proud of all these friendships and value them as treasures in my life… I know that I will never forget them and that they will never forget me and we keep in touch on social media.

Joyce Zhang (pictured second from the left) at the Dunedin Chinese Garden with other postgraduate students she met and made friendships with whilst studying at Otago.

What advice would you provide for incoming international students about Otago?

Make friends and experience as much as you can. You might worry about your English, safety about travelling and all sorts of stuff, but please don’t stop exploring. Join in peer programmes, language exchange programmes, mentee and mentor programmes.  There are many kinds of useful programmes designed for international students that will give you real engagement and help you become a true Otago student.

And just because we like to keep things a little bit light hearted, we thought we would throw in a random question…….

If you were on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would you bring and why?

Hmmm water, food and… a boyfriend??!!   Even if I was isolated, I can still be alive and enjoy every min as long as I can! 😊

If you want to maximise your employment opportunities with further study, want to improve your English speaking and make life long friendships, be like Joyce and find out more about studying at Otago!

Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!