Beaches, Castles, and Kiwis: New Zealand Study Group


For the Spring 2023 semester, Colgate offered a New Zealand Study Group. The study group is led by Associate Professor of Religion Jenna Reinbold but is open to students from any concentration. The program is anchored in Dunedin at the University of Otago, near the New Zealand coast. To create a fully immersive experience, all Colgate students are housed separately, and live in “flats” with New Zealand locals. In Dunedin, the students are surrounded by a lush landscape, paired with bright and vibrant city life. 

The program appealed to students concentrating on a range of disciplines. Junior Maeve Farley studies both computer science and economics and chose the New Zealand study group because of her interest in the area.

“I have always wanted to visit NZ [New Zealand] and since it is far away I thought a semester there would be the perfect way to get to see lots of different areas,” Farley said.

The New Zealand program provides incredible opportunities inside and outside the classroom — in the stunning natural landscape. Students have access to activities like surfing and hiking, and many have taken advantage of opportunities unavailable to them in Hamilton.

“My flatmates and I go surfing every Thursday which has been really fun and we have all gotten a lot better,” Farley said. “I also have loved all the weekend trips [I’ve taken] to different hikes, swimming holes and beaches.”

Junior Cade Smith, a computer science concentrator and art history minor on the trip, also emphasized the abundance of local activities.

“I would say that no matter who you are, there’s something for you in New Zealand. If you are really outdoorsy, you can hike some of the most beautiful hikes in the world every weekend, and you’ll find plenty of other people willing to do so with you,” Smith said. “If you are more into the party scene, it’s alive and well in Dunedin particularly on the legendary Castle Street (look it up on TikTok).”

The students clearly love what they’re doing in the classroom just as much as what they do with their free time. All participants are taking “Religion and Human Rights,” taught by Professor Reinbold. They’re also required to take an indigenous perspectives class about the Maori Society and have chosen everything from “Computational Problem Solving” to “Psychology in Legal Contexts” to round off their schedules.

The students also spoke highly of the close relationships they’ve formed with their Kiwi hosts. 

“There have been so many great moments, from bungee jumping in Queenstown to surfing on the local beach,” Smith said. “But if I had to choose one thing, it would definitely be my Kiwi host. […] In each of our flats, we each are supposed to have a Kiwi living with us who helps to introduce us to life in New Zealand and at the University of Otago. My Kiwi host is named Denzel and he has been extremely helpful on all fronts.”

New Zealand is truly unlike any other group Colgate runs. Junior Blake Hardin, a psychology and educational studies double concentrator, was attracted to the distinctive nature of the program, as well as the enthusiasm of the leaders.

“I chose the NZ study group because it seemed like the most unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity type program that had no major prerequisites and didn’t require language fluency,” Hardin said. “I also was really inspired by the excitement of the professors leading the trip… I think it is so important to be traveling with people that are also passionate and excited to learn.”

Farley, Hardin and Smith all encouraged prospective participants to consider New Zealand when applying for study abroad programs.

“To people considering applying to a NZ study group, or really any study abroad for that matter, do it! Now is the time to get out of your comfort zone, live somewhere new and broaden your worldview,” Hardin said.

“New Zealand is such an amazing place with so many different types of things to do from hiking and surfing to exploring the different cities and secluded areas,” Farley added. “Even after hearing about all my friends’ different study abroad experiences, I would not change my decision to come to NZ.”