Lauren Hall is the Regional Market Manager (Americas) in the International Office at the University of Otago. In this role, Lauren works closely with Otago’s education agents, government and non-government agencies, and institutional partners to support the international marketing, recruitment and business development objectives of the University. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Otago, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Marketing and Finance.
What is your favorite travel memory?
I have so many favourite travel memories, but one of my recent favourite travel memories would be walking between villages in Cinque Terre, Italy. The weather was beautiful and each of the villages had their own unique feel and differences.
Some of the main walking tracks were closed, which made for a slightly more adventurous or physical walk than expected – but the gelato and views made it totally worthwhile!
How does your role have a positive impact on the experience of international students at your university?
I am lucky in that I get a chance to meet with many students before they come to Otago. I think it has a positive impact for students to hear from someone with first-hand knowledge of the University they are going to, the city (Dunedin) as well as New Zealand culture in general. Having studied at the University of Otago myself, I know what it is like from the student perspective and it is exciting to share the types of opportunities available.
The other aspect that I really enjoy is delivering orientation seminars when international students get to campus. It is so lovely to see students that I have already met with or talked to and I am sure it is often reassuring for the students to have a familiar face when they arrive on campus.
What do you enjoy most about working with international students?
The students bring such vibrancy and different perspectives, which is really invigorating! They are smart, passionate and adventurous young adults who bring their own unique backgrounds and cultures. I love how enthusiastic and genuinely appreciative they are, and how eager they are to learn about their new environment.
What makes your university a great place to study abroad?
The University of Otago really offers the full package, with both academic excellence and outstanding student experience. We are a residential campus, in a city that is small enough to get around easily, but big enough to have lots going on. Because we are the only truly residential campus in New Zealand, it is a very national and international campus with so many activities on your doorstep.
From the academic perspective, Otago offers a diverse range of programmes that fit with almost any major. There are also so many opportunities to have a hands-on experience, with many classes incorporating fieldwork or experiential components, which are very popular!
What makes your city a great place to study abroad?
What I love is how accessible everything is. Dunedin is a 10-minute city! Within 10 minutes’ walk from campus, you can be in the heart of the city, in the botanic gardens or at a number of walking or bike tracks. There are also a number of beautiful beaches close by – which is very popular with surfers!
There is such a variety of things to do in Dunedin from visiting museums and cafes, hitting the bike and hiking trails or seeing the amazing wildlife down on the Otago Peninsula. It caters to such a wide variety of interests.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in creating an excellent experience for study abroad students?
Having a supportive and welcoming environment, which is definitely something that Otago excels at. I think by ensuring students are able to experience a range of activities both in the study space, but also outside of the classroom really opens up a whole new world to students.
I also think it is important that students have an immersive experience in their new surroundings and culture, branching out of their comfort zone and meeting new people. We often hear how much students love the accommodation set up at Otago, called UniFlats. It is set up so that students meet with other international students as well as domestic NZ students, which means they meet people from all over the world but also get connected to lots of local ‘kiwis’.
You will almost never need accommodation when you travel after you have met with people from across NZ and the world!