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Third-year international physiotherapy student

COVID19 lingers in the daily lives of all New Zealanders and influences the plans of some physiotherapy students at Otago.

Daniel Tan, a third-year student at the School of Physiotherapy is more than happy to be in New Zealand right now.

Bright vistas

Daniel flew into Dunedin from Singapore in 2018 wearing boat shoes and a little under-prepared for our latitudes. Herds of dairy cows near the airport runway surprised him.

With a Diploma in Nutrition and Health from Singapore Polytechnic in hand he had already scoped a career in sports and exercise science but after two years of mandatory military service, Daniel was very keen to stretch his wings. He soon realised that human health was a wide-open potential field for exploration.

physio_daniel tan smiling with tramping party 2020

He welcomed the genial atmosphere of Dunedin finding the smaller city exciting and its people more diverse than he imagined. Kiwi terms such as 'sweet as' and 'jandals' were baffling, but he now feels right at home as an individual, with Dunedin being a more inclusive and 'tighter-knit' community.

Growing confidence

Because he is a few years older than his peers Daniel has found it easier to set boundaries and maintain a clear focus on academic success.

While at first it took some patience and concentration to get to grips with the broader conceptual framework of physiotherapy Daniel's conscious decision to be open to learning new ideas has given him a good degree of useful confidence and momentum.

Daniel worked hard on his language skills and tells us that his understandings of New Zealand is improving. He has learned a little about New Zealand's Māori culture and influences through marae visits and is keen to find out more, with Te reo Māori as the catalyst.

Better language skills allow more open and honest conversations leading to sounder understandings and more effective clinical practice.

A flexible outlook

Daniel's work under COVID19 alerts has proven demanding and he tells us that even with the best available technology it has been a struggle to stay motivated at times. He has given much thought to staying well, thriving with his studies and sustaining as much human connection as possible.

Because the science of physiotherapy is always evolving, Daniel has adopted a flexible approach to his immediate future and has used his initiative to simplify daily life.

Daniel understands the importance of being resourceful. While under COVID19 'house arrest' he separated his home in his imagination into a dedicated workspace and shared living areas. His room is now only for working and sleeping so study time can be as productive as possible without distraction. Shared spaces are for relaxing and for sharing laughs and stories with friends.

When the demands of work press in, Daniel plans another adventure in the remote hill country and mountains of Southern New Zealand. He believes that fresh air works better than any medicine to help reset his body and mind for the demands of study.

The great company of intrepid friends helps Daniel Tan, motivated physiotherapy student at the University of Otago find the balance he needs for optimal success with his undergraduate studies.

Useful links

Take a look at opportunities for undergraduate study in physiotherapy at Otago


Lawrence, R. (2005). Branding terroir in the ′New World′: Modes of representation in the wine industry. In P. Sorrell, C. Ozcan, E. Kocabiyik & Z. T. Ultav (Eds.), Proceedings of the IST Product and Service Design Symposium and Exhibition on Agricultural Industries. Izmir, Turkey: Izmir University of Economics. [Full Paper]

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