28 February 2023

Living as a student in Otago - Laila's story

Laila Nur Baraqah Binti Rosdi
Undergraduate student

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

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

Honestly, I like the design of the university’s landmark, the Clocktower, and the fact that Dunedin is a student town – I love the way it is not too busy nor too quiet throughout the year. I also like Dunedin’s landscape; the university’s buildings are spread from North Dunedin to the City Centre, which means students live in their own area. Besides that, the ranking the University of Otago holds in the QS rankings also influenced my decision to be here.

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

I expected that I would enjoy my classes and have fun with friends just like I did during my college days in Malaysia. As I am an international student who is a bit timid, I did not expect much, but it turns out I am enjoying my university life more than I expected. I have been trying new things, such as becoming an International Student Ambassador and working as a tutor, that I never imagined I would do before!

Blog- What does your typical day as a university student include?

Just like other students, I start off my day with classes or sit at the library watching dramas, studying a little bit, or hanging out with my friends. When I have the time, I go to Unipol (the university recreation centre) to sweat a bit, and my favourite thing is to roam around the city while doing nothing. Working a part-time job, as a tutor at the university, is also in my schedule because, if not, how will I enjoy myself?

What do you do on the weekends?

Usually, I just relax at home when I do not have any deadlines to meet, or again, hang out with my friends. I personally think that we need to have a study-life balance – grind during the weekdays and have a rest during the weekend when we have the opportunity to do so.

Laila from Malaysia visiting Auckland

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

I like that we are given the chance to explore by volunteering, joining clubs and societies, and going to events the university organises. As a Muslim and someone who never stepped out from their country, I was a bit afraid to try out new things in a foreign country, but I can say from my experience that Otago offers opportunities for students from any background.

I was also honoured to be given the chance to be part of the International Student Ambassadors. Being able to engage and play my role as an ambassador at the University of Otago is one of my favourite things I have done as a student. It is only my second year at Otago and my second semester being on-campus and I still haven’t fully explored the university, which I am looking forward to doing more of this semester.

How do you save money living in Dunedin?

Spending moderately is one of the ways people can save money other than working a part-time job to generate more income. I walk to university or take the bus instead of owning a car since most of Dunedin is accessible by bus or within a walkable distance. Bringing my own food and sharing the groceries also helps share the burden so I can either increase my savings or save for travel. Again, different people might have different ways of saving their money while living in Dunedin, but what is important is that we enjoy life as much as we can!

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About the contributors
Laila Nur Baraqah Binti Rosdi
Undergraduate student

Malaysian student Laila is studying for a Bachelor of Commerce major in accounting at the University of Otago where she is also an International Student Ambassador. Laila wants to explore New Zealand’s culture through her study and travel experiences.