Study Abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ

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About

The University of Otago is located in New Zealand’s only true student city of Dunedin - the beautiful and compact campus (you can walk everywhere) is home to more than 20,000 students.

The University of Otago is New Zealand’s first university and has a worldwide reputation for research, teaching and academic excellence. When it comes to the weekends the opportunities for adventure are endless.

Studying at Otago will not only equip you with first rate academic skills, it’ll enable you to spread your wings in the South Island of New Zealand, make friendships, and experience life in one of the most unique corners of the world.

Highlights
  • Ranked 151st in the 2017/18 QS Workld Rankings
  • Easy location to explore the spectacular South Island of New Zealand in the weekends
  • More than 190 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes
  • One of the top 16 most beautiful campuses in the world
  • Walkability to campus, accommodation, city centre, recreational activities and entertainment

Questions & Answers

Reviews

95%
based on 37 reviews
  • Academics 6.7
  • Support 8.2
  • Fun 8.6
  • Housing 8.9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 16 - 30 of 37
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Katherine
10/10

Opportunity of a Lifetime

One of the most euphoric experiences that I still remember so vividly is when the Highlanders won their game on July 4th. This was the first night I went out after arriving in Dunedin on the 3rd. I was still getting used to my new surroundings and anxious about meeting new people. I went to the Bog to watch the game with a small group of people from my program. The place was absolutely packed. Standing shoulder to shoulder with serious fans, the atmosphere in the bar was like nothing I have ever experienced (and I'm from a big college football town). I had also never watched a rugby match before. The team pride and cheer was contagious. At the end, my face hurt from smiling and voice was strained from yelling and singing along to "We Are the Champions," a song led by the bartender who was standing on the bar and recording the event on his Iphone. A bunch of people went out to celebrate afterwards (the celebration went on all night). I met so many fun people. In just one night, I was completely reassured that my semester here was going to be incredible. Easily the best Fourth of July I've ever had.

How can this program be improved?
Events that were hosted by the program we just for international students, and it would have been nice if they had hosted some events that allowed us to meet the local students, some sort of social or mixer.
Yes, I recommend
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Micaela
10/10

Otago Art and Culture

I studied film and art at the University of Otago, 2015. I learned so much about Maori culture in my film class, art class, and Maori society class. Wonderful experience which challenged my view of the world and native cultures.

How can this program be improved?
I believe the drinking culture in Otago should be addressed before arriving. Students need to learn how to be safe in this environment.
Yes, I recommend
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Mike
10/10

So much fun

This was by far the best experience of my life. Kiwis are the friendliest people around and were amazing hosts. New Zealand is an amazing country and Dunedin was a wonderful place to live for 6 months.

How can this program be improved?
Housing could have been more comfortable but was adequate.
Yes, I recommend
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Madison
10/10

What A Day!

I actually had to take my GRE Chemistry Subject test in Christchurch. I had been sick for the last few weeks and had injured my ribs severely from coughing. I bused to CC from Dunedin (~5 hrs) and then hiked to my hostel in the rain and dark with my sleeping bag strapped to my backpack. After getting lost and stopping in a liquor store to utilize google maps on their computer, I arrived at my hostel. I curled up on a couch in the TV room and got in a little bit of last minute studying and then miserably went to bed. I woke up the next morning with only an hour before my exam was set to begin. I don't think I've ever lept out of bed so fast. I had planned to have a nice morning stroll to the nearby University of Canterbury (about 30 min.) before beginning my exam to clear my head. Instead I called a taxi from my emergency NZ cell phone and when I told the driver my situation, she got me to campus as fast as she could. My usually organized self then realized that the woman in charge of proctoring the test had not gotten back to me on the exact location of the testing center on campus. I wandered around the university in a mild panic until I found the University Police office. The kind security officers at the University of Cambridge knew exactly where my text was supposed to occur and gave me a ride. All of my worry was for nothing as even though I arrived past time for the test to begin, neither the proctor nor the other students had arrived. They were all late too! In the end, I made it to and through my three hour exam. What a day!

How can this program be improved?
This program could be improved by further informing international students about opportunities to interact with domestic students in on campus activities. I found it a little difficult to integrate with current students.
Yes, I recommend
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Blossom
8/10

Time in a Country Down Under

I absolutely loved Dunedin with its small town feel. The flat support system was extremely accommodating and having my own room was amazing. I must advise that those who are interested to pack warmly and be prepared for four season weather in a single day!

Yes, I recommend
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Carla
10/10

Best Decision of College Experience

It was amazing to take a paper about the Maori performing arts which really allowed me to delve deeper and learn about the culture in a hands-on way with a practicum component to supplement the lecture. I would highly recommend studying at the University of Otago to anyone interested in selecting a place that is inspiring and beautiful beyond words.

Yes, I recommend
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Nicholas
10/10

When I Visited GloriaVale

At some point after the semester, Kilian (my German travel partner) and I found ourselves working on a dairy farm. Around the dinner table one night the farmer told us about a Christian "cult" nearby (we were on the west coast of NZ's south island). He described it in such a fanciful way, we had to call his bluff. I found the GloriaVale website, called them and asked if we could come see the place. They said "sure!" as I had expected.

When we got there, it was something out of a movie. Everyone wore blue. The men and boys built things, the women and girls cooked and cleaned. Each family had an average of 12 children and people married ages 13-16. This place apparently had the fastest growing population in the world. The 86 year old man that was showing us around the complex, filling our heads with propoganda, and telling stories of how he founded the community, turned out to be The Cooper. If you look up media around Gloriavale you will read about the cult leader that went to jail for molesting children maybe? that was the guy showing us around...

How can this program be improved?
I would not have lived with a bunch of other internationals. I felt like I didn't get to meet as many native kiwis because I lived in international houseing.
Yes, I recommend
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Austin
3/10

Not What I Was Looking For

I did not enjoy attending the University of Otago. First off, the city of Dunedin itself is a complete college party town. There is no effort to keep the campus or surrounding neighborhoods clean and orderly, with broken glass and empty alcohol bottles littering the roads and sidewalks. The students have had no alcohol safety education, and therefore it was not rare to see someone passed out on the sidewalk or getting sick, and their friends or companions would be on their phones disinterested or even laughing at them. Secondly, the classes were uninspiring and offered no unique perspectives on the subject matter. The school is advertised as an eclectic and beautiful campus, but neither is true. There is little to no music program, and very few opportunities on campus. New Zealand itself was beautiful, but I would not recommend Dunedin or the University of Otago.

Response from University of Otago

Kia ora Austin,

We are sorry to hear that your experience studying abroad at our university was not positive. While Dunedin is quite safe, you point out valid issues of students drinking to excess within the public neighbourhoods near to campus. The NZ education system provides education on the dangers of alcohol, but as with other commonwealth nations there is unfortunately a culture of binge drinking that we are actively dealing with. This is an issue that the university takes very seriously and pro-actively tackles together with the Dunedin City Council. The institution of Campus Watch has been an excellent introduction in recent years for ensuring students are safe in the local neighbourhoods (which are not university property), and more recently students have been required to adhere to a code of conduct in their life on and off-campus to retain their place at Otago.

While the campus is not looking its best in 2014/15 due to a huge beautification project, meaning we have lots of areas on campus fenced off and dug up, the campus will be back to its beautiful best in mid-2016.

We are sorry to hear you found your classes uninspiring, and will be sure to pass this feedback on to those academic departments for improvement. With regards to the Music programme at Otago, we in fact have a wide range of classes available and it is concerning you were not advised of these prior to coming here. We have updated our study abroad guide this year to make the process for searching courses easier: http://www.otago.ac.nz/music

No, I don't recommend
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Melanie
10/10

Best College Experience

Studying abroad was by far my best college experience. I had a blast at Otago! I loved studying in Dunedin because it was like a complete 180 from going to school in Los Angeles. The people were so great and I made so many great friends. New Zealand is the best!

How can this program be improved?
Nothing! I would ask my school to not be dumb and let me take a class about New Zealand for credit!
Yes, I recommend
Hanna
10/10

6 months of lush green hikes, barking sea lions, and friendly outgoing kiwis

Being a pre-health student with a demanding course-load, I didn't think it would be possible to go abroad for 6 months and graduate on time. I applied to the program in Otago at the very last minute and when I got in I was relieved I had gone through with it! It has been over a year since I left for NZ now and I still scroll through my phone on a daily basis to reminisce about the breathtaking scenery I documented. There are plenty hikes offering physical and mental challenges, as well as beginner hikes for all levels. The rolling green hills, the many near-by beaches filled with sea lions, and the small friendly city I will never forget are just a few things that will never leave you after your adventure. As for the nightlife, it could not have been any better! Whether you like to club or just sit in a bar and get a nice fresh beer you will not be disappointed. There are many brewery's to tour and "bring your own bottle" restaurants to enjoy with new friends. Although the academic piece of my trip never really crossed my mind as I packed for my 6 month adventure, such a large university offers a plethora of subjects and levels and I was able to take an upper level nutrition class even though I did not have the pre-requisites because I met with the department head. The professors were very friendly and willing to help just as they are at my school back home. I really can't put into words how incredible my time was in Dunedin. I would not change a thing about my trip or choose to go to any other city. What I would give to have another happy, feel-good, inspiring trip such as this one!

How can this program be improved?
At first I hoped there was a bit more of a meet-and greet orientation, however looking back I think not having that built in actually forced people to get to know their neighbors really well and pushed everyone out of their comfort zone :)
Yes, I recommend
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Michelle
10/10

University of Otago Study Abroad

Studying abroad at the University of Otago was an experience I'll be telling my children about. Every day the walk to class is beautiful, the people are friendly, and you feel safe everywhere. There is no shortage of parties to attend so you'll always be meeting people and having fun. Studying there is making me want to take a year off after school and teach English abroad so I can see more of the world. New Zealand is awesome!

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could have opted out of the student insurance and saved myself a couple of hundred dollars. I didn't know I would be charged that until I had arrived. My school already gave me travel insurance that I was paying for, so it felt like I was paying double for something I never even used.
Yes, I recommend
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Jennifer
10/10

Amazing!

Every day was an adventure! I met absolutely amazing people that still play huge parts in my life now, two years later. Loved the ecology courses that I took! Be prepared for the houses to be a bit cold, and to make memories that last a lifetime.

Yes, I recommend
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Connor
10/10

So much outdoorsy stuff!

On one of the many weekend getaways, some friends and I heard about a beached whale near Invercargill. Naturally, we wanted to see it. After a quick burger stop, we set out with warmth and sub both in abundance. As we got closer to the beach, the sun gradually started to disappear. And the wind was picking up. We never made it to the beach; the beach literally came to us. The road was soon covered in sand and visibility was limited to 10 meters. As far as we could see, there was no one else on the road and a friend proposed backing up to prevent sand from flying into the engine. So I turned the car around and realized that I couldn't see behind me (a combination of a trunk full of gear and a few heads were in the way, in addition to the sandstorm.) I didn't want to drive into anything, so I open my door to peak behind me and... WHAM! CRACK! SNAP! My door had just been blown off the hinges and hit the hood of my car yet was somehow still attached. A few seconds after I realized what at happened, I grab the door and pull. But nothing happens. My friend in the passenger seat leans over and together we are able to pull the door into its rightful position. But it won't close...the door is out of alignment. So the guy in the passenger seat holds the door in place, leaning across my lap to do so, while I slowly drive us out of the sandstorm. At this point a cold rain had started to fall so water and sand were flying into the car through the crack between the frame and the door. We pull into a gas station and try to pry the door back into place with tension and several pocket knives but to no avail. We were here on a Sunday and by this point it was past 5 o'clock, meaning most mechanics were probably at home. Eventually the sailor of the group pulls out some parachute cord, cracks the window, and ties the door to the car. As we drive home the rain eventually stops, which delights me because I am no longer getting rained on. It's quite funny that I had the best car of all my friends; the engine didn't make funny sounds, everything worked, and it got great gas mileage. And half of all other international student card had already broken down. Yet on our last weekend outing, my car finally needed repairs. Everyone else was apologetic about what had happened. But I was smiling, knowing very well that the events of the day would one day make a great story.

How can this program be improved?
There isn't much opportunity for interactions with kiwi students outside of class. I wish there were more options to meet and spend time with locals.
Yes, I recommend
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Andrew
9/10

Go to Otago!

If you love the outdoors, love partying, and love learning, this is the place for you! Great location to outdoor activities (hiking, beaches, and more) along with a great business program. Would recommend.

How can this program be improved?
Warmer weather at the end haha
Yes, I recommend
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Charles
10/10

Great fun

U of Otago was a great time. I learned a lot about myself by going to new country and I felt that New Zealand was a good choice because it is not too different rom what I have experienced at home in the United States. Dunedin is a great little city and I felt very safe there. It was also a good location to try and go see the sights of New Zealand from. Overall a really enriching experience and I would recommend U of Otago to anyone.

Yes, I recommend

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