Whether you’re a student of the arts or the sciences, Dunedin is an inspiring destination to spend a semester abroad. A UNESCO City of Literature, there’s not really a wrong time to hit the books in one of Dunedin’s six libraries. Unless, of course, your classes are best supplemented with field experiences, like learning about endangered yellow-eyed penguins and other local wildlife on the Otago Peninsula.
Much like the educational opportunities, Dunedin also has something for everyone in regards to exploration. Wander around the free Otago Museum, see native flora in the Botanic Garden, and take a hike on Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest road.
Weekends and breaks are the perfect time to get out and discover New Zealand’s national parks, from the majestic Southern Alps to the coastal Catlins region. Every time you wander back around to Dunedin, you’ll be delighted to experience just how much this South Island city feels like home.
Life & Culture
Dunedin effortlessly blends city lifestyle with signature Kiwi experiences. Study abroad students in Dunedin will hit the books by day and enjoy quirky local restaurants and bars by night. With an abundance of outdoor activities available in town or just beyond, Dunedin is also a natural gateway to New Zealand’s wild side.
Culture & Immersion
European settlers brought Western influences to New Zealand, many of which are evident in Dunedin. A city that got its name from the Gaelic word for “Edinburgh,” Dunedin houses the nation’s sole castle and displays Scottish roots in everything from local architecture to Haggis ceremonies. For students keen to learn more about Maori life, keep an eye on museum events and cultural tours.
Culture Shock & Support
No matter the distance, length, and destination of an overseas experience, culture shock can happen on any international trip. If you find yourself feeling displaced, try to connect with other study abroad participants -- they’re likely experiencing the same thing. If it’s more serious, don’t be afraid to reach out to your host university for professional support from their guidance team.
Dunedin is very much a “college town,” with university students populating everything from bookstores to bars. You’ll find it to be typical of city living, with events and festivals on most weekends. The music scene has enticed popular international musicians like Ed Sheeran to play Dunedin venues, and you might be lucky to catch an All Blacks rugby match at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Insider Tips on Studying Abroad in Dunedin
You’ll hear the word “Otago” a lot in Dunedin. It’s the name of the region in which Dunedin resides, the name of the nearby peninsula housing New Zealand wildlife, and graces the names of local universities. When studying abroad in Dunedin, be sure to hit all three of these marks.
Explore everything the Otago region has to offer, like the adventure sports of Queenstown. Make the most of Dunedin’s specific corner, especially the Otago Peninsula excursions that take visitors to view royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions, and more critters. And of course, don’t forget to do your homework!
Planning Your Trip
Deciding to study abroad in a place as cool as Dunedin is a no-brainer, but figuring out what type of course you want to take and where you’ll live is a tad trickier. This section will help you organize the finer details of studying abroad in Dunedin.
As a study abroad student in Dunedin, there are a few options for course types. One option is to apply for and attend a Dunedin university of your choice as a regular student in what’s called a direct enrollment program. Alternatively, your own college may offer exchange programs, allowing you to take courses at a partnered institution overseas.
Another option is to go with a third-party provider. Through these independent organizations, you’ll likely be learning alongside and living with fellow study abroad students in Dunedin. While you’ll be a bit more disconnected from the local student life, organized activities will help to foster a close-knit community of study abroad students.
Typically for study abroad programs, student housing is provided at the local university’s accommodation. Otherwise, you can find a flat to sublet via platforms like Trade Me, Facebook, or Dunedin Craigslist. Since Dunedin’s population contains many students, you’ll be happy to know that flat availability tends to be flexible and line up with semester dates.
To take the local buses in Dunedin, students will need to acquire a GoCard. While you’re able to pay as you go on public transit, the discounted GoCard fares are definitely worth the small card fee in the long run. There are a few places around the city where cards can be purchased, and from there you can top-up at those same locations or on the bus.
Costs & Funding
With the right preparation, studying abroad in Dunedin will be an affordable and enjoyable experience. There are a few things students should know before they get started.
Cost of Living
In New Zealand, the cost of living is slightly lower than that in the U.S. As of today, Numbeo estimates that rent expenses in New Zealand are nearly 25% lower than those in the States, with the average monthly amount being the equivalent of $750 - $900 in USD. Groceries and eating out are more closely priced with U.S. expenses.
Studying overseas in New Zealand requires either a visitor or a student visa. The former applies to U.S. students in programs under three months in length, and the latter is required for all other cases. With student visas, there are different types depending on factors like the duration of your stay, the nature of your chosen program, and your other plans while you’re in New Zealand.
Can You Work While Studying in Dunedin?
Even though some students might be eligible for a visitor visa, you’ll have to apply for a proper student visa if you intend to work while you study. Exchange, Fee Paying, and Foreign Government Supported Student Visas all permit visiting students to work under certain conditions. The Working Holiday, which is a 12-month visa, allows students to study for six months and work for the length of the visa.
Scholarships open up the possibilities for foreign students. If you need some extra help funding your study abroad in Dunedin, explore options from these organizations:
- Go Overseas: Yours truly supports annual scholarships to study abroad in New Zealand. Participating Dunedin schools include the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, two esteemed institutions.
- Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: For U.S. citizens who wish to study abroad, the Department of State runs this program for need-based students.
- Fulbright Scholarships: A Fulbright Scholarship supports awarded students for ten months of study, and there are conditions under which some students may be able to extend.