It’s been just over two months since I arrived and things haven’t stopped getting more and more incredible each day. I arrived quite early, I’ve been here since January and it was devoid of student life. Due to some problems with renting my room back home, my travels were delayed and being alone was difficult, but once that was sorted and things started getting better, they haven’t stopped.
I’ve hiked 3 hours through a mountain to get to a beach, started a campfire from scratch, stood under the light of the moon and the Milky Way and watched glow worms wash up onto the beach.
I travelled to Queenstown and stayed in a hostel alone, meeting incredible people along the way. I toured the filming locations for The Lord of the Rings one day, had hot chocolate and brownies overlooking Lake Wakatipu the next.
I’ve met people from everywhere, from France to Hawaii (the UEA student population is severely lacking, come over!), coming out of my comfort zone entirely and embracing every aspect of student life here. You will meet more people from places you might have never even heard of, and you won’t forget them for the rest of your life.
Today I went to the Armaggedon Expo and I met Billy Boyd (Pippin from Lord of the Rings!), I even had time for a chat and photos! I can honestly say I’ve never been so excited to meet someone in my life, he even gave me one of the names of the assistant unit directors so I could look more into New Zealand film production.
I won’t lie, sometimes homesickness will strike, the shock of things being so different can be overwhelming, but there’s never any true regret. I have never seen a country so beautiful and made so many friends so quickly. Everything that you’re scared to do at home, you’ll get the confidence to do by studying abroad. It will give you the confidence to confront the things you’re scared of and to be active in making the best choices for yourself.
The workload is pretty similar to UEA. Most of my modules have exams, but there’s coursework too. All the lecturers are approachable and friendly, everything functions the same way here with eVision, Blackboard and the library. If you live in uniflats, your kiwi host can help out with anything you’re confused about and also recommend cool places to visit! As I mentioned, there aren’t many students from UEA! I cannot recommend the University of Otago enough, coming here to study has been one of the best decisions I’ve made, and I’ll definitely be coming back to New Zealand in the future.
Ayeshah Lalloo is a second year Film and History student and is currently spending the spring semester at the University of Otago, New Zealand.