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Success Stories

Dr Sandy Mandic, from California

Dr Sandy Mandic joined the School of Physical Education as a Senior Lecturer, after moving from California with her husband in November 2008.  Prior to joining the University of Otago, Dr Mandic was a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“I’ve always wanted to live in this country. When I came across the job description, I found that it was very well matched with my academic interests. I saw this job as a great opportunity to expand my international experience and meet new people for research collaborations.  Combined with the beauty of New Zealand, this job is a dream come true for me.”

Dr Mandic enjoys the lifestyle working at Otago University provides.  “I have found that there is so much less stress in academia here compared to North America or Europe.  I also enjoy the freedom of academia and the ability to develop the projects I am interested in while working with people who share the same passion.  I enjoy the multi-cultural aspect of the University, and very friendly people who are ready to collaborate.  For my research, there is a lot of community-wide initiatives which opens the door for doing projects that I want for my research.”

Dr Mandic and her husband have settled well in Dunedin.  “Dunedin is a smaller city and you can get quickly anywhere you want.  All activities are within a fifteen-minute walk or drive.  There is not much traffic, and the living is affordable compared to living in Northern America and Europe.  I know that some people complain about the weather in Dunedin, but after seven years of living in the Canadian cold, Dunedin is not cold at all!  I also really enjoy the nature around Dunedin and the ability to access biking and hiking tracks at the doorstep of our house - you don’t get that luxury in many places in the world!”


Dr Viktoria Kahui, from Germany/Norway

Dr Viktoria Kahui has recently returned to New Zealand from Norway, with her Kiwi husband and baby in February 2009, to accept a Lecturing role with the Department of Economics.  Dr Kahui is German but completed her PhD at the University of Otago before returning to Europe, where her last role was as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tromsø.

New Zealand’s lifestyle, the good working environment at the economics department and the desire to raise a family were key reasons Dr Kahui wanted to return to Dunedin.  “Everybody is nice and friendly.  We are both happy to be back.”

Dr Kahui enjoys the focus on research at the University of Otago as well as the atmosphere of her classes.  “The department tries to help me as much as possible by making sure I have all the time and resources needed in order to focus on research.  I enjoy the teaching; the students are very polite and friendly, and there is a nice atmosphere in class.” 

While Dr Kahui and her husband found that the housing in Dunedin was not up to the same quality as previous places they had lived, they did find a nice house in Brighton. “We live out in Brighton which is a 25 minute commute, but it is worth it as we live very close to the beach which is quite beautiful.  We like it that we are able to make weekend trips to places like the Peninsula, Shag Point and the Catlins.“


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