I have been able to spend the past several weeks in Dunedin, NZ doing a pharmacology research internship at the University of Otago in the Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. Everyone in the program at the school is incredible and willing to take the time to help us learn. They are very patient and more than happy to take any questions. Additionally, everyone has been helpful in giving tips about what areas are the best to explore as well as all the best places to eat, grab a cup of coffee, etc. We have met some incredible people and I LOVE the city of Dunedin. It's so unique and there's actually a lot of must see areas here. My personal favorites have been Tunnel Beach (surprisingly not far from the main city), the Botanic Gardens, and the Town Belt. It's been so much fun wandering around and trying all of the coffee here too. So far my favorite cafes have been The Good Oil, The Governor's Cafe, and Modak's. They all have something slightly different to offer but they're all places I suggest people go if they're in Dunedin. Additionally, there are plenty of fun little shops to pop into to look for souvenirs or just to waste time. The Otago Museum and the Settler's Museum are both good areas to learn some local history and just to learn, in general. On Saturday mornings there's a farmer's market outside of the Train Depot that runs from about 8 am to 12 pm. It has a lot of fun vendors and good food/coffee trucks. I would definitely suggest an extended weekend in Queenstown if possible. It was an amazing little town with lots of great food, beautiful hiking, and a lovely beach along the lake. There are a lot of thrill-seeking activities to participate in there including bungee jumping, sky diving, parasailing, boat rides, luge rides, etc. It's a great outdoor mecca!
As far as helpful tips go, I would for sure bring a GOOD pair of shoes. The city of Dunedin is pretty walkable and there's a lot of neat places to explore if you are happy to walk. There is decent enough public transportation though, if you're more interesting in purchasing the GoCard and getting around via bus. If you're coming during spring or fall, the weather is VERY changeable. I have been here during springtime and it has ranged from beautiful, hot and sunny days to COLD, overcast, rain or even slightly snowy days. Always be ready for rain too. Many times we've gone out in the morning to a blue and sunny sky only to leave the campus and it be raining and windy. Just be prepared. Try to plan to go shopping at one of the local grocery stores (Pak N Save or Countdown are close to where we've been staying and Pak N Save tends to be a little cheaper). Eating out for every meal is not very feasible when you're here for so many weeks and prices tend to be a bit high, however, the exchange rate does work in favor of US money.
As far the impact this program has held on my future endeavors, well, there's a lot. I am nearly done with pharmacy school in the United States and I certainly have plans for what I hope to do there but I have a renewed interest in working in a lab. I used to do cell culture in undergrad and I now wish I could continue to do it after practicing again here. Who knows, maybe I'll end up working on a PhD in Pharmacology in the future ;-).