The university year
First-year students are typically excited at the start of the year as they start their new independent life. But don't be overly alarmed if about four to six weeks into the first semester some anxieties set in. These might include concerns about courses and workload, financial and health worries, relationships, even homesickness. This is not uncommon. It does pass and there are people available at our residential colleges and on campus to offer help and support.
Most students go home for the first time at mid-semester break – usually around Easter. You will find that they seem a lot more independent and grown up, and you'll hear stories of an active and full life back at Otago. That's a clear sign that they are safe and happy at university.
The second half of the semester leads up to exams. This can be an anxious time as the pressure of study mounts. College and Locals staff are on hand to provide an environment that supports study, so students can concentrate on the task at hand.
The end of the first semester and holidays are a welcome relief after the seriousness of exams. But be prepared for a little tension before exam results are released late in the holidays.
Second semester is winter in Dunedin. There are new courses to start, and by now students are pretty settled and used to the routine of university life.
The stresses and tensions around exam time will resurface and the end of the year can be an emotional time as the community formed in each college prepares to move on to the next stage – usually flatting - and students say goodbye for the summer to the friends they have made over their first year.