This year marks a decade of the GO2OU scholarship and was met with insightful discussion from visitors and current students who have previously been on the trip.
Ten students from lower North Island schools have gained an early insight into University life during a recent trip to the Dunedin campus.
The Otago GO2OU (Go to Otago University) Award annually funds a trip for 10 high school students from the Wellington region to experience Humanities subjects at the University. This year marks a decade of the GO2OU scholarship and was met with insightful discussion from visitors and current students who have previously been on the trip.
Bachelor of Arts (Japanese, Math and Statistics) fourth-year student Tiarne Southon visited Otago as part of the programme in 2017.
“I heard about it through my school's career adviser at the time and I was one of the 10 students chosen that year. We stayed at Arana College, were able to see the other colleges and talk to lecturers specific to the subjects we wanted to study.”
“The dinner this year was great. It was nice to catch up with some of the students from the trip I went on and meet the students who are looking at Otago. The dinner is structured so that high school students can ask us about the colleges we lived in and we get to talk with them in a pretty honest fashion about what Otago is like.”
The 21-year-old says she's glad she chose Otago and the visit helped her to know she was making the right decision for her studies.
“Going on the trip solidified for me that this is where I'm meant to be. I wouldn't go anywhere else for my undergraduate experience. I think one of the best things about the trip is getting to see all of the halls – seeing them in person really shows you where you would want to live.”
Now an RA at Carolyn Freeman College, Tiarne says the trip is a great opportunity and she would encourage others to take it up.
Isabella Sinnema who is now in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts (TESOL and History) went on the GO2OU trip in 2018 and says while having family here had her interested, it wasn't until she saw the University that she was able to make her decision more clearly.
“My sister was at Otago at the time so I knew a little bit about it, but the trip was great for learning more about the University and visiting the halls. Online it can be hard to make a choice on where you want to live. It was good to stay at Arana to gain an insight into hall-life. The trip helped me refine what I wanted to study too.
“I can't imagine myself being anywhere else. I have a very different lifestyle to my Wellington life and I always love returning to Dunedin after time back home. I wouldn't change a thing. I considered studying in Wellington but I was ready to try a new city. I grew up in Wairarapa which is pretty small. It's nice to move into a space with so many different people from all over the country.”
Isabella recently joined the School Ambassador Programme and visited her old high school to share with students about her experience at Otago. At the recent GO2OU event she enjoyed the opportunity to speak with potential students openly and honestly about just how important mental health support is to people at Otago – both staff and students.
“There's a lot of mental health services and support here and the majority of students will use those at some point, there's no taboo in that. Making the move and starting out can be daunting at first but everything will work out, something good will always come out of the challenging times. I can say three years on the things I got nervous about like making friends or flatmate dramas are no longer things I stress about and it's okay to say you need some extra support and help.”
Last year's trip was unable to go ahead due to COVID-19 restrictions making this years' trip even more of a celebration. The 2021 GO2OU trip has now come to a close but will go ahead again for 10 Wellington region high school students in 2022.