Where are you from?
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Although I am form a huge city but my interest have always been outdoors and New Zealand is perfect for that. I enjoy fly fishing just as the (former) Dean of Foundation Year- Simon Chu. I will always find an excuse to head into the mountains with my backpack and a few friends to enjoy the unspoiled nature that New Zealand have to offer.
How did you hear about the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year?
I heard about foundation studies through the University of Otago website.
What course did you study at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year?
Health Science foundation year.
What year did you study at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year?
Why did you choose to study at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year?
Instead of the last year of high school I chose to come to Otago to study foundation year in order to get to know the university and the New Zealand education system also gives me a better chance of getting into my preferred course.
What did/do you like about New Zealand/Dunedin?
New Zealand is a very friendly country and not to mention the beautiful scenery. Dunedin is very student friendly city and most of the attractions are all with in the walking distance.
How long were you studying at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year?
What did you do after Language Centre and Foundation Year?
Got accepted to Health Science First Year and then enrolled in the bachelor of dental surgery course.
How has these courses benefited you in your study and work life?
Helped me to get to know the university system before the first year university begins. Familiarise myself with the city of Dunedin and the culture. Helped me to gain a big circle of friends which is essential for university life. Foundation year also prepared me academically for the course that I was intended to get into and made my university life much easier.
What are you currently doing?
Studying 4th year BDS degree and as a RA of Salmond college.
How did FY prepare you for university?
Foundation year prepare me through both academic support and academically prepare me for the course that I wanted to get into and also Foundation Year provided me with the environment which is very much like a university life style. So it gets me used to the university life and the university education. So it’s not a surprise when you get into the university.
What surprised you most about FY?
When I first arrived at the Foundation Year it was located at St David Street, the diversity of students really surprised me. You get to meet all the different nationality/ culture background. You learn not only theoretical knowledge but also personal interaction and a lot of things; that you don’t cannot learn from books.
Describe the environment around UOLCFY and the campus. What do you like/dislike?
I have been to a few University myself and the university of Otago definitely stands out, through how tidy it looks and how logical where everything is, very student friendly where you don’t really need a car to get around/ to get to lectures. There is no public transport needed. Most of the students can walk around campus, I feel like it’s a very pleasant experience to be studying here.
Foundation year was located at St David street which was right opposite the major health science first year lecture theatre, that got me used to hanging around there and meet people so it gave me a familiar feeling when I started my health science first year at the university.
But now foundation year has moved to a brand new building (the stadium), which is one of the most famous building in New Zealand at the moment and it’s also right next to unipol (gym, recreational activities etc.), which is very handy for language centre and foundation year students, just to finish with study and spend one or two hours doing activities before they head home. Plus it’s not so far away from the main campus as well.
What do you think you achieved in your time at UOLCFY?
Before I came to New Zealand I was studying in the British Cam. international system and instead of the last year of school I came to study foundation year, this is mainly because if I want to study in the university in New Zealand I think it is better to have my last year of high school as a pre-university course in New Zealand. A lot of academic work was taught in a different way in New Zealand. Prepare you more. Foundation year study is a very close group of student that forms very close relationship and this has gained me a lot of friends for the past 3 years. I do feel that if you come to Dunedin to study at the university straight away, you wouldn’t have as much friends. Most students that came to Dunedin mostly only know their flatmates and only the people they meet in a very large lecture, so by coming to foundation year you automatically make friends with just about 80-100 people in your year group and you socialise with each other more through the different activities that the foundation year organised for us (horse riding etc.) They really try hard for us to get to know each other, which help develop long lasting friendships. That will help you a lot in University life.
How does FY compare to University?
More personal. In university some lecture has 2000 people. There is not much personal interaction between you and the lecturer. In foundation year you can just rock up to your lecturer and talk over things, more support than the university. Also you live in a smaller community, so people do pass information casually, through casual chat. Whereas the university once you leave the lecture and if there is a notice, you are less likely receive the information as quickly is in foundation year.
What advice can you offer to people thinking of studying here?
Especially, if you have the intention of getting into medicine or dentistry health science first year is a one chance in your life. Once you enrolled and you are not prepared then you definitely put yourself in a very difficult position. If you fail health science first year then you can’t do it again. Whereas, in foundation year you can have a better understanding of the papers that are in health science and you can be more prepare before the university first year. Also in foundation year you get a chance of doing U-MAT I think that the result last for 2 years. If your foundation year result doesn’t come out as you expected and you follow through to health science first year you have your second chance.
Is the student culture here different from your own country?
I would say so… I come from Beijing, China and most of the University there are high raise building, with more than 10 floors in them there is no such thing as a campus. Basically, you just walk into an office building and do your studies and walk out on to the main street. In Dunedin students actually live on campus and it so spread out people have a lot of social life around campus. For an exchange student University of Otago offers a very wide range of courses so there will be people studying interesting things not so mainstream I do feel that they contribute to the varieties of cultures as well, making it very diverse.
Did you join any clubs or groups while you were here?
OUSA they organised a lot of interesting clubs and societies, there are also ethnic groups and societies. Students association they organise a lot of interesting things such as food festival, functions and stuff. It’s great to have your sense of identity carried on while you are in a different country such as Chinese, Malaysia, and Taiwanese student clubs you can find your group very easily, that is where you make a lot of friends as well. Also there are a lot of activities such as scuba diving, I went scuba diving in the Otago harbour once and it was very cold but it was fun! There is always something there for you to relate yourself to. I have been part of the tramping club for 3 years now and it’s great! Everyone there is so down to earth; they will welcome you with open arms and if you are a beginner or moderate level for tramping you can get plenty of support them. It is a lot safer than going by yourself. To become a member of a club doesn’t cost you much and you are entitle to rent out the gear for a very minimal price. Especially, for starters you can hire the gear rather than purchasing it which cost a lot. So you get a test of everything before you have to decide what you would like to do. There are also many other thing which are more traditional such as bone carving, glass blowing etc.
Did you pick up any new hobbies while you were here?
Fly fishing. It’s a type of fishing for trout. It’s an art really... it take so much knowledge and time. It’s very enjoyable in New Zealand in China you don’t get a chance to do that because the nature is just not there. In New Zealand you get the river which is very clean and clear condition and you can see the fish in there. I love the excitement and stuff of fly fishing. While you are doing that you are in the nature environment, sun shine and clean air, it’s very meditating.
Did you take part in any student activities?
Yes, most of the Friday activities and also a long trip to Stewart Island for tramping.
In university tramping club organise tramping every weekend and also I’m an RA so we mostly have our own activities every weekend such as, going somewhere locally.
There are many things to do as well in Dunedin such as mountain biking, hiking and all the outdoor activities.
Did you learn any useful habits while studying with us?
Yes, note taking method – what to take down, what not to take down, how to divide my notes which I find you can apply it to any lectures. Another useful thing would be the academic writing which is essential in University life and exam essay especially most people at their own time can come up with a great 2000 words essay but in university exam situation you have 3 hours to come up with 5 essays and it has to be perfect. Foundation year definitely provides us with the essentials.
Once you leave home and come to Dunedin you start to be more independent, foundation year keeps a very clear schedule, time management and also the lifestyle balance of studies and fun in foundation year they really encourage that.
What was the highlight of your time here?
I can’t pinpoint anything because there’s always excitement around and its very comfortable to study here. I had a great time here but I can’t pinpoint a specific highlight. The year here I can say was the highlight.