Melanie Harris

Melanie just started a teacher training programme at the University of Otago

"I’ve always enjoyed travelling and for some time have wanted to study abroad. I decided New Zealand was the ideal place. There is such a diversity of places to visit and it offers many outdoor opportunities including scuba diving, skiing and trekking.

"I visited all the New Zealand universities before making a decision and Otago was the best fit for me. I based my decision on the course, the staff I’d met and the way they organised practicums. I also took into account location, ease of getting around and the student culture. Dunedin is small and sociable. The student vibe, even for postgraduates, is really strong. When I’m not studying, I socialise with other students, go diving occasionally and go to the university gym (it’s free).

"I’ve just completed my first school placement, which was full-on! We were in school from 8am-3pm and spent much of the late afternoon and evening planning lessons. The schools in Dunedin are all great and the associations I have formed have been amazing. My associate teacher at my first school wrote the English curriculum for New Zealand schools and it was so beneficial to have someone with this background watch my lessons. Although the placement was intense, it gave me a great insight to the work and confirmed that I really wanted to teach.

"I’m living in the postgraduate hall Abbey College, which has a big community vibe. I go on treks with some people, and to the bar with others! You quickly meet other students; it really has made my social life. The staff here are very supportive and fantastic at addressing your needs. Abbey itself has a spa, pool and sauna, TV, pool table, board games, study rooms and an upstairs lounge that is home to entertainment, movies and parties. There is also a piano!

"I’ve found being away from friends and family hard, but Skype and Facebook mean I can still keep in touch. Studying overseas has been a great experience so far."

Study Options were able to help Melanie with arranging university visits as well as applying...

"Having decided I wanted to train as a teacher in New Zealand, I needed help with my applications.  I found Study Options through internet searches.  They were very helpful and supportive throughout the application and interview process, giving advice and liasing with the international department and teaching staff at New Zealand universities.  Their help included arranging visits to six universities, checking my applications, certifying my documents, chasing up any delays or issues at the universities and managing the visa process.  In short, they made it a simple and easy process which resulted in my obtaining a number of offers.  It is a great service which did not cost me anything and they were always able to solve problems immediately."