By Cory Parkinson, ISA Australia, Fiji and New Zealand Site Specialist
With so many different options to choose from in New Zealand, it’s sometimes hard to get a good understanding of what makes each city unique. Luckily, I was given the great pleasure of conducting an interview with Dunedin native and one of our most beloved New Zealand staff members, Assistant Resident Director Dee Solomon, about her home town. Here’s what I found out:
Can you first give us a little background about yourself?
Kia Ora! My name is Dee Solomon and I am the Assistant Resident Director for ISA in Dunedin. I started with ISA in January 2016 returning to work part-time after having 2 children. George is now 6 and Emma 3. My husband Martyn is an accountant who also works in Dunedin.
What’s your study abroad story? Tell us about your international experiences, and how you came to ISA.
Dunedin is my home town and I studied at the University of Otago. I graduated in May 2000 and in June I went to work at a YMCA summer camp in Ohio and I got my first taste of international working. Following that in 2001 I went to Seoul in South Korea for 3 years teaching English. After this I spent 3 months greyhound bussing around America before returning home for a year.
I then moved to the UK planning to stay for 2 years, working at a girls’ boarding school. This turned out to be a dream job and my 2 years became 8 years, working with students and staff from all over the world. Having long school holidays meant I was lucky to be able to travel extensively through that and thought this could be another dream job for me working again with international students and colleagues and it has turned out exactly that way!
What is one aspect that makes Dunedin unique from the rest of New Zealand?
Dunedin is known as the ‘wildlife capital of New Zealand’ and on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin you can see penguins, including the rare yellow-eyed penguins, albatrosses, with the only mainland based albatross colony in the world, seals, sea-lions, dolphins and occasionally whales.
Dunedin is also only a 3 hour drive inland to the major New Zealand ski resorts of Queenstown and Wanaka with beautiful scenic drive into the mountains with some great adventures at the end including the ski slopes, bungy jumping, jet boating, luge runs and much else.
Is there a part of the city that you like the best?
The great thing about Dunedin is that everything is only 10 minutes away. Whether it’s the beach, the shopping malls, the cafes and bars, everything is within easy reach. We also have a great new stadium that lots of events including music concerts, international rugby and cricket fixtures and is the home of the Rugby Super XV team the Highlanders. I am looking forward to seeing Ed Sheeran at the stadium next Easter.
What are people in Dunedin like and what do the people like to do?
Dunedin is quite a relaxed city but is very much up and coming with a thriving technology sector in the economy. There is a strong live-music scene, a busy café culture and a lot of sports to participate in or follow. The main sporting teams are the rugby Highlanders, the cricket Otago Volts and the Otago Nuggets basketball team.
Away from the city centre are many beaches with great surfing conditions, rivers and hills where fishing and hiking are popular pastimes.
What is one thing about your program that few people know?
Dunedin is a small city of around 120,000 people and 30,000 of these are students from the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic. It is a real university town and the city has a young, vibrant, lively and friendly atmosphere with the student population contributing very much to the energy of the city. With an amazing café culture and yummy food on offer.
Lastly, What things do you like to do when you’re not working?
When I am not at work and not taxiing the children between swimming, rugby, cricket, soccer and ballet lessons, I play netball each week and I like to bake and try new recipes and, if I get the chance to read. But I am so lucky having a great work life balance. My family like to be involved and my children really enjoy meeting the new students each semester. So I really do consider myself super lucky to live in the fab little city of Dunedin with my extended family and close friends living near by and to have such a great job which I really enjoy.
Learn more about Dunedin and apply for a semester or summer program in Dunedin today! Semester application deadline is November 1 and Summer 1 is April 1, so what better time than now to start planning for your next epic adventure!