New Zealand Blog #2

Published on Monday, March 28th, 2011

by Hillary Dzamba

This month, Hillary covers:

  • What academics are like at University of Otago
  • Fundraising efforts for victims of Christchurch earthquake
  • A lot of great sightseeing in New Zealand
  • Encouragement for Becker students to study abroad

I can’t believe I’ve been down here for over a month, it’s funny to think that I was only in my third week of classes while Becker was already having their Spring Break! I’m taking four “papers” a.k.a classes while I’m here, which consist of Human Resource Management, Sales Management, Supply Chain Strategy and last but not least Religion, Science and Magic. Classes are totally different than what I’m used to at Becker, for instance here my smallest class is around forty people and my largest being one hundred. Things run a little differently as well, attendance isn’t taken nor does it count, some teachers have aids to grade the assignments, they rarely know who you are unless you go out of your way to introduce yourself and grades are weighted much differently. For all of my classes the final is worth a significant amount, one of mine is worth as much as seventy percent of my final grade! Overall I’m enjoying my classes and love the professors; all I have to do is make sure I know what they are looking for.

A beautiful view from Mt. Roy

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, a huge earthquake hit Christchurch although I wasn’t affected by the event, many here were. A Kiwi who I have come to know while down here is part of the New Zealand Red Cross and when the opportunity arose to help with raising money for the relief fund, I jumped at the offer. We were all split up into different groups to cover certain neighborhoods in town, once there we knocked on everyone’s door to see if they wanted to make any donations for the Christchurch earthquake. I was amazed at how many students gave whatever money they could to help out, we received donations from twenty cents per person to 30 dollars per person! I’m not sure of the final tally but the estimate was that we raised around eight thousand dollars among fifteen of us. It’s amazing to see how much a community comes together when such tragic events occur. Every weekend I have been somewhere new, different and exciting. Such as exploring  Larnach Castle (New Zealand’s one and only), Tunnel Beach, Sandfly Bay, the Royal Albatross Colony, climbing Mt. Cargill, experiencing my first rugby game and going on a train tour through the countryside. Needless to say I’m excited to just stay in town for a lazy weekend.  Each place had something different to offer, at Sandfly Bay we trekked down a steep dune to find a giant sea lion sleeping on the beach, which was so cool! After walking further we got to a viewing post where we could observe (from a distance) the rare yellow-eyed penguins, and multiple fur seals.

The Royal Albatross center is located at the end of the Otago Peninsula; an albatross is one of the largest flying sea birds with a wing span of up to 3 meters across. They were very interesting looking, but kind of creepy as well. Larnach Castle isn’t your typical castle, it’s on the small side compared to what you would normally think, but the structure and gardens were beautiful. Tunnel beach is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve been so far.  Getting to the beach is about a 20 minute walk down hill from the parking lot. There were massive sea-carved sandstone cliffs overlooking the ocean, but to get to the actual beach you have to walk down 70 steps in a tunnel until you emerge onto the sand, it was magnificent. Not to mention my initials were already carved into the sea wall! A week ago a friend and I went on a hike up Mt Cargil, which is located here in Dunedin and what we thought was going to be a pretty easy task turned into a never ending, steep incline but it was totally worth it once we reached the top. In all honesty studying abroad was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make and if I didn’t have a supportive family, friends and faculty back at Becker I most likely wouldn’t be here. I already love it in New Zealand and have only been here a month. My advice to anyone who is even slightly interested in doing a semester abroad would be to just jump at the opportunity! Most likely you will never in your life be able to pick up and move to another country for four months, with everything taken care of. No matter where you decide to go it’s going to benefit you tremendously and I promise you won’t regret it! Through this blog I hope to share my experiences while inspiring others to take a risk and study abroad.

Until next time,
Hillary Dzamba

  • Watch for another Study Abroad Blog entry by Hillary by early May!
  • Scroll down to read her previous blog entry,which covered the first week after arriving in New Zealand in February.
  • Could studying abroad be in your Becker future? Check out Study a Broad for more information!