30 August 2023

Life at Otago University: Rakesh’s story | Study With New Zealand

Rakesh Banerjee
PhD student

International students have many, many different reasons for choosing the University of Otago. Rakesh from India answers our questions to share why he chose to study at the University of Otago and how he finds life as a student in Dunedin.

What is your number one reason for choosing the University of Otago?

I wanted to do my PhD with the best. I chose the University of Otago for its top global ranking and academic excellence. When I was reading research papers to apply for PhD, I was fascinated to find several of them from the University of Otago. Most importantly, I found the research area I was interested to do my PhD on in the Chatterjee Lab, Department of Pathology. Also being an international student, I was very impressed by the number of scholarship opportunities that were available. Additionally, the amazing research facilities available at the University made it my top preference. 

What were your expectations before you came to study at the University of Otago? 

I came into the University of Otago with the expectation of having an amazing student life and learning the art of being independent. And I believe I’ve received back more than I expected. The student life is just so good here and I’ve made some great friends for life.

What does your typical day as a university student include? 

Being a Pathology PhD student, most of my day is spent in the lab working on my experiments and in the office analysing data. I usually come in the mornings to set up my experiments and then few meetings with the supervisors to discuss data etc. Later in the evenings I do some reading and then writing. Every week we also have lab meetings, seminars and department get togethers which is great. However, I do plan my work in a way in which I can catch up with friends for dinner etc later in the evenings. 

What do you do on the weekends?

I personally love Dunedin as a city to live in. It is very student friendly, and it has so many different places to explore. I usually spend the weekends exploring the city as much as I can. On a summer day, I make sure to visit the beach to relax and go for hiking. I also host social events with friends to catch up and visit different cultural events happening around the city. During long weekends, I usually go on some road trips to some nearby destinations which is so cool. 

What do you like most about the university? What is your favourite thing? 

I love a lot of things about the University, I believe it’s too many to pen. Some of the things include the great support from staff regarding student questions about anything literally. The queer support provided is also great. My personally favourite thing about the University is the campus. Even though my lab is in the medical school, which is off campus, I make time to visit the clock tower and just sit by the lawn to relax and let my thoughts run. Its just a beautiful feeling. 

 How do you save money living in Dunedin? 

Even though I am funded by the scholarship I make sure to have enough savings for entertainment and emergency situations. I usually make sure to transfer some money to a different account as savings and plan my finances every week. Also, I live close to my department/campus which saves my transport cost. I love cooking so I usually make my meals which saves up quite a lot as I don’t necessarily have to eat outside every day. Additionally, the university provides great opportunities to make some extra money by tutoring, lab demonstration which is one of the things I love about the University of Otago. 

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About the contributors
Rakesh Banerjee
PhD student

I'm in my final year of PhD at the Chatterjee Lab (Department of Pathology). My work focuses on investigating methylation changes using CRISPR gene editing technology. I am also the International Student Ambassador for the University of Otago. Outside work, I love cooking, sketching, dancing, and travelling. After completing my PhD, I hope to establish strong knowledge about my research and become an independent researcher contributing to the field of medical sciences.