Never mind that Carel Thompson-Teepa was about 1,200 kilometres away: when she was at high school in Whakatane, considering where to study, all roads seemed to lead to Otago.
"I thought about doing Phys-Ed and Medicine, but in my last year changed my mind and decided on Law. I gave that up after first year, and am now doing a double degree in Accounting and Māori Studies, with honours in Māori."
One thing that can be said about Otago is that there's no shortage of options. And by combining a nuts-and-bolts commerce degree with the chance to explore Māori history and culture, Carel is continuing to create possibilities for herself. Her aim now is to work in an area where she can promote Māori business.
"I come from a family of business people and I find it quite natural to apply the principles of accounting - working out how to set things up to maximise your chances for success while ensuring you comply with everything you need to comply with. I'm enjoying learning these practical skills."
Meanwhile, Carel says, exploring the issues of Māoridom in a southern city in which te ao Māori is a less obvious part of everyday life has been an important eye-opener.
"It was a bit of shock when I first came and the Māori Centre became my second home. But I think it's actually given me a better understanding of diversity. At Otago there are people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds from all around the world. There's a place for everyone, that's what's so great about it."