Music is one of the driving forces of Metitilani (Lani) Alo's life.
As an experienced vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he found Otago's Contemporary Music Performance degree a perfect fit.
At school in Auckland, where he was born and bred, he searched for the right course and the right place to study.
“I was looking for more independence — home was too comfortable — and I felt growing up and doing my own thing would be good for me.
“I wanted the right course for the type of music that I do and that I want to do when I'm older, and I found that at Otago.”
Lani says he was influenced by an inspirational teacher who had graduated from the same course, and helped by having Samoan family connections in Dunedin.
“It's a long way from Auckland, so it was good to have a foundation here too, and the people at the University's Pacific Islands Centre were really good at taking care of any questions in the early days.”
Lani also connected with the local Samoan church. “Although I was doing contemporary work for my degree, I'm a classically-trained vocalist, so still practised that with choral work with the church.”
He's also continuing to work with his church youth choir in Auckland when he can.
“It's all about keeping a balance. The contemporary course is perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and my first year at university wasn't as stressful as I thought it might be.
“Student life really is what you make it. You can stay home or get out and meet new people and do things, which is easy in Dunedin, as it is a small place compared with Auckland.
“Everyone in Dunedin is so friendly, and as students are such a big part of the population people relate to each other easily.
“If you are thinking of coming from outside Dunedin, I strongly encourage you to make the leap and everything else will sort itself out. Just make the move. You won't regret it.”