What is life like after PAA? What do our alumni do once they get home? These are the things you’re dying to know! Never fear. We’ve started asking for updates and well, let’s just say it turns out awesome people continue being awesome even…
Study music at New Zealand’s oldest university! The music world in New Zealand is thriving, and you will have the chance to take courses in a wide variety of musical styles and instruments, play in local orchestras and student concerts, and enjoy a range of musical ensembles. There are also internships available in the thriving popular music scene of Dunedin. During your time abroad, enjoy:
- New Zealand’s breathtaking landscape – Beautiful sand beaches, bush-clad hills, and tidal inlets are all near your apartment.
- Hundreds of clubs, societies, and student organizations – Learn the ropes of wine appreciation in the wine club or rock climbing in one of the student adventure organizations. There are hundreds of options, and plenty of artistic endeavors to pursue beyond the classroom.
- Live in the heart of Lord of the Rings country – Dunedin is an excellent gateway to beautiful Central Otago and Fiordland, where opportunities abound for hiking, skiing, water sports, adventure tourism (including bungee jumping), and admiring the spectacular landscapes. Dunedin’s coastal location and climate are ideal for a wide range of sports and other recreational pursuits.
“This experience has been the most incredible and life-changing few months. I have made fantastic new relationships and lifelong friendships. The scenery, the classes, and the people were all fantastic and I found New Zealand to be an amazing country to live in.”
Performing Arts Points of Interest
For those looking for a more intimate and local cinema option there is Bunkhouse Theatre on Stewart Island one hour by ferry from Dunedin. The Bunkhouse Theatre is a locally run 53 seat theatre that is know for screening “A Local’s Tail” starring the owner’s dog Lola. Join Lola and others for films and concession food.
Dark Room Bar
Dark Room Bar in Christchurch, NZ hosts live bands almost every day. The venue is energetic, inviting artists of electronic and rock bands alike. The space is blackbox style for performances that fits 60 people standing.
Fortune Theatre if the world’s southernmost professional theatre company has been staging dramas, comedies, pantomimes, classics and contemporary NZ productions for over 40 years. The theatre is located in an old, Gothic-style Wesleyan church. Fortune Theatre produces eight live mainstage productions each year, including comedies, dramas and a kid’s show. The company takes one show on tour around venues in Otago and Southland, and host many touring shows in their studio space.
Meow is a restaurant bar that frequently hosts live music in Wellington, NZ. The eclectic space is inviting and fun for visitors and locals alike. Bands ranges from jazz to rock to punk and the food and drink selection is off the charts!
The Metro Cinema screens selected films ranging from commercial to arthouse, MetroCinema is a world class cinema using the latest in studio equipment. The cinema is constantly updating to the latest in digital projection. The Metro will be the last cinema in Dunedin to screen off 35mm film commercially daily.
Neverland Studios is a dance studio with 3 locations in Auckland, NZ. The studios offer classes in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, musical theatre, and acrobatics. The studio is home to hip hop crews, ballet development squads, and jazz/contemporary troupes.
RASA School of Dance
The RASA School of Dance is a dance studio in Dunedin offering classes in contemporary, jazz, hip hop, and tap classes. The studio leads a competition group by audition and tests for the Urban Ignition dance courses.
The Regent Theatre is Dunedin’s premier, large scale auditorium for performing arts and cinema for the people of Otago and visitors to Dunedin. The Regent is currently equipped to host live theatre, music and opera, dance, film, and festivals.
Previously a nightclub venue after serving as a movie theatre during World War II, the Rialto Cinema reopened in 1998 as a six scene multiplex. The building of the Rilato Cinema is a category 1 historic place in the registry of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. The cinema is decorated with elaborate interior features, and an example of a surviving atmospheric theatre.
The Weta Cave is an exhibition of of props for “Lord of the Rings” & other films. Visitors can take tours of the location and experience movie creativity plus documentary & studio souvenirs.
PAA Home Base
Our headquarters in New Zealand are at the University of Otago in Dunedin. This is the oldest university in the country and sits alongside the beautiful coast. You will live on campus and join fellow study abroad students on excursions throughout the country during your semester. The beautiful campus is situated in the trendy and artistic city of Dunedin, which provides a range of additional music opportunities.
About the Location
This program is offered in collaboration with the University of Otago, New Zealand’s oldest university located in the city of Dunedin. Dunedin lies at the southern tip of the South Island, and is the main city of the province of Otago. Dunedin has a population of 120,000 and offers students the best of both worlds in terms of city life. It has the entertainment, facilities, and variety of larger cities but is small enough to be intimate, friendly, and uncrowded. Dunedin is an artistic center and home to many music venues and organizations.
Dunedin is also a gateway to Central Otago and Fiordland, where you will discover all the things that make Dunedin famous for being a stellar destination for skiing, hiking, water sports, adventure tourism (including bungee jumping), and admiring the spectacular landscapes.
Dunedin is the second-largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal hub of the Otago region. For cultural, historical, and geographical reasons, Dunedin is considered to be one of New Zealand’s four major urban centers. With numerous eateries, shopping districts, cafés, and night-owl venues, you’ll always be entertained!
As a Music Semester in New Zealand student, you will be living in a single room in the Otago University flats.
The flats are only a few minutes walk from campus and only 10 minutes from the main city shopping center. The flats are all furnished, include a basic kitchen set up where you can prepare meals, and all of the bedrooms contain a double bed with mattress, a desk, chair, and drawers. You will have the chance to live with New Zealanders and other international students, and can immerse yourself in, and learn more about, the Kiwi culture.
While you will live in your own room, you will share a flat with other students at the university. PAA has a small handful of students on this program every semester, who join another handful of study abroad students from our partner organizations to form a cohort that travels together and participates in excursions and onsite activities led by our Site Director.
A Day in the Life
The Participant Experience
The sound of waves crashing on the shore as the tide comes in greets your ears as you walk from your flat to your first music class of the day at the university. It’s a beautiful sunny day, and you already have plans to hit the beach with your friends after class. You’re thrilled that you’ve managed to fill your entire course load with music classes, including private study in your instrument and an independent study where you will collaborate with a music studio in downtown Dunedin. This weekend you will join other PAA students on an excursion with the Site Director to Wellington where you will visit the famous Weta studios where Lord of the Rings was filmed and animated. It’s hard to believe you were missing home when you arrived a few weeks ago. Now you wish you never had to leave!
You will book a flight to arrive at the Dunedin Momona Airport (DUD) on the arrival day. As part of the Music Semester in New Zealand, you will participate in an extensive orientation program when you arrive. To better integrate into New Zealand life, we recommend that you take part in the International Student Mentor program, which pairs new international students like yourself with senior international and local students. This will start your semester off with opportunities to meet people and get involved in campus life. Right off the bat, you’ll have a support person and friend to help you adjust to life at the university and to Kiwi culture.
A Typical Day
In addition to taking a full course load, you will be invited to participate in regular excursions and onsite activities led by our Site Director.
For students interested in volunteer work, service learning, and getting involved with the music scene in Dunedin, the University offers numerous options. It is also a great place to learn about the native Maori culture of New Zealand, and their unique cultural and performance practices.
The University College staff work hard to provide a packed schedule of events for you to take part in throughout the semester. You will be invited to participate in internal competitions (with trophies for the winners!), including table tennis, foosball, portrait painting, basketball, darts, puzzle making, poker, chess and many other events. There are also “Open Mic” nights and other exciting campus activities.
Our Music Semester in New Zealand is located at the University of Otago, the oldest university in New Zealand, founded in 1869. The Committee on University Academic Programmes of Universities New Zealand ensures that New Zealand university academic programmes meet quality standards, and provide the necessary accreditation to ensure your academic credits should be accepted by your home university.
The University’s culture is a mix of old and new. The campus is a short walk from the city’s vibrant center, which is full of artistic life and activities. The University has about 20,000 students, with 1,000 international students from over 100 countries! While the university is considered a larger university, Dunedin is not a large city. In fact, the university accounts for about 20 percent of Dunedin’s population. Otago is ideal if you’re looking to live in a real New Zealand college town! It is the only true college town in Australasia, in the sense that the city revolves around the university.
The Students’ Association (OUSA) supports over 100 student sports, arts, cultural, and faith groups. Rugby club, an outdoors club, a student improv association, and arts society are just a few of the many options – there is something for every interest group out there. Clubs and student organizations also provide leadership opportunities and work experience for students involved as committee members and organizers. Twice a year, at the beginning of each semester, all the clubs, societies, and student organizations on campus hold an event that provides students with the opportunity to find out about these active and diverse groups. Take advantage of life on campus and throughout the city by getting involved!
Deb is the primary PAA contact for all participants once they have applied to their programs. She processes applications, conducts applicant interviews, communicates with overseas partners regarding acceptance decisions, orchestrates all pre-departure preparation, supports participants while they are on their programs, and oversees re-entry counseling as she ushers them into joining the ranks of our fabulous PAA alumni.
Deb grew up at a small, independent school surrounded by the languages, music and cultures of students from around the globe. Her passion for exploration has brought her to many out-of-the-way places such as studying variable stars at a Nantucket observatory, flying a small plane over the skies of New England and mapping ancient lava flows in southern Arizona. Without a doubt, though, her favorite place is anywhere in a theater. As an award-winning stage manager, Deb has collaborated on productions throughout the Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts and always enjoys challenging and innovative theater. She happily admits to an obsession with all things organizational and considers a trip to the office supply store a totally valid form of therapy.
She has studied and traveled extensively in England and Scotland, has journeyed through parts of France and currently shares her space with cats, humans, and far too many books.
Erin Hardee Patterson
Erin advises everyone who expresses interest in PAA’s programs. She responds to e-mails, answers questions submitted in online forms, makes and receives phone calls about our programs, and communicates with those who begin an application.
Erin Hardee Patterson earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music, and her Master’s in Music Therapy from Florida State University. Her professional adventures as a cellist, singer songwriter, board-certified music therapist, event coordinator, admissions professional, project manager, and newly trained birth doula have helped her to live all over the United States – from her home state of Virginia, to New Orleans and Maine, to Tallahassee and Vegas (to name just a few!). In addition to her US travels, a ferocious case of wanderlust inspired Erin to travel to The Netherlands, Canada, Germany, France, and Belgium. (The wanderlust is no joke – this bio was written on a plane!). She enjoys practicing her conversational French and American Sign Language, and has aspirations of one day carrying on conversations in Spanish (hopefully on a beautiful balcony in Spain). Erin is a new transplant to the Northampton, MA area with her firefighter/paramedic spouse Max, their dog Eleanor, and 3 very fat house cats. She is passionate about tiny humans, music, yoga, beautiful bodies of water, succulents, two steppin’, empowering families to have joyous, satisfying births, and being a smiley muppet.
New Zealand Site Director
Helena supports all participants on our New Zealand programs, acting as the main point of contact throughout their stay in the country. She coordinates airport pickup, arranges housing, leads cultural excursions, and manages the 24-hour onsite emergency phone.
Kia ora my name is Helena – I have learned that there is a shared humanity which unites all of us. There is an amazing power in serving others and being the change we want to see in the world. There is an authenticity that comes from aligning our actions with our values. And there is a strong desire to be inspired. I often feel frustrated that there is a lack of media dedicated to the social sector and developing social capital. There are not enough storytelling outlets for the great things everyday people and communities are doing to address serious social issues. There are plenty that report on the big news: war, death, crime, politics, tragedy, etc. That leaves little time to hear more about humanity, social engagement, and individuals, organizations and groups who are making a real difference.
So let me tell you my story and what brought me to my role as CEO of Film For Change tasked with taking the organization from a Charity to a Social Enterprise that creates sustainable social change. I have lived for over thirty years with my feet in the corporate world where I belonged to organizations that focused on making money and managing people whilst disregarding the fundamental values that were important to them. My journey to living an authentic life has been full of valuable lessons. I see the real strength in sharing knowledge connection and engagement.
My “strengths” perspective highlights people’s assets and abilities, not their deficits and limitations. For self-determination efforts to be successful, we must create opportunities for working together, and increase the positive consequences of community action.
Addressing what matters to people – equitable access to good health, social inclusion, education, and jobs, for example — is beyond any one of us as an individual change makers.
The idea of “ecology” — interactions among people and their environment — helps us see community action as occurring within a web of relationships. At Film for Change we are implementing a sustainable business model and social investment strategy that focuses on our people and clients equally enjoying a return on their investment. We are developing a web of relationships with partners who work with us as their ‘Go to- Storyteller in Film’.
So working with Film for Change will provide you the opportunity to not only ‘walk your talk’ but introduce you to an innovative leading Social Investment and Change movement. For more detail check me out on Linked In https://www.linkedin.com/in/helena-coolen-b632aaa/
New Zealand Program Director, Semester Programs
Lauren acts as the university contact for PAA students studying at the University of Otago on semester programs. She finalizes course schedules, coordinates university orientation events, provides academic advising, and acts as a liaison between PAA and Otago’s academic departments of dance, music, theatre, and film.
Kia ora (hello)! My name is Lauren and I work as the Regional Marketing Manager (Americas) in the International Office at the University of Otago. In this role, I work closely with Otago’s institutional partners across the Americas and am the first point of contact for students interesting in pursuing study opportunities here at Otago – which I strongly encourage!
A Dunedin local, I am myself a graduate of the University of Otago, and hold a Bachelor of Commerce with a double major in Marketing and Finance.
Having been a student at the University of Otago and also working here means I know the place pretty well – and I love it! Prior to joining the team in the International Office, I worked in a variety of roles across the Otago campus. These have included being a campus tour guide, a research assistant as well as working in other administrative and marketing roles, a highlight of which was meeting with prospective students, visitors and alumni from right across the globe.
Aside from my time here at the University of Otago, I have also worked at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and have also worked for a large New Zealand investment banking and share broking firm.
While I have been fortunate to live in, and travel to a number of places in New Zealand, Dunedin will always be home. I am a keen advocate for the truly amazing opportunities and experiences provided by both the University of Otago and the wider Otago region.
The University of Otago provides amazing opportunities for students interested in the performing arts. Although my career in theatre performance and choir ended in High School, I have been known to watch a bit of Glee and I would never say no to karaoke!
I look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful campus.
“The in-country staff were incredibly friendly and helpful and supportive. Just great!”
“Performing Arts Abroad (PAA) is a wonderful organization that allows you to gain valuable work experience, contribute to a new community, develop lasting relationships, travel and (in my case) learn a new language. PAA creates a comfortable experience abroad with their assistance and support.”
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|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||End Date|
|Fall 2018 Semester||Apr 15 2018||Jun 30 2018||Nov 14 2018|
Important Fall 2018 Dates
|Event||Start Date||End Date|
|Arrival||June 30, 2018|
|PAA Orientation||June 30, 2018||July 1, 2018|
|University Orientation||July 2, 2018||July 6, 2018|
|Classes Begin||July 9, 2018|
|Mid-semester Break||August 25, 2018||September 2, 2018|
|Classes End||October 12, 2018|
|Exam Period||October 17, 2018||November 10, 2018|
|Departure||November 11, 2018|
|Australia Excursion||November 11, 2018||November 14, 2018|
|Session||Application Deadline||Start Date||End Date|
|Spring 2019 Semester (estimated)||Oct 15 2018||Feb 16 2019||Jun 20 2019|
Important Spring 2019 Dates
|Event||Start Date||End Date|
|Arrival (estimated)||February 16, 2019|
|PAA Orientation (estimated)||February 16, 2019||February 17, 2019|
|University Orientation (estimated)||February 18, 2019||February 22, 2019|
|Classes Start (estimated)||February 25, 2019|
|Easter Break (estimated)||April 19, 2019||April 28, 2019|
|Classes End (estimated)||May 31, 2019|
|Exam Period (estimated)||June 5, 2019||June 19, 2019|
|Departure (estimated)||June 20, 2019|
|Australia Excursion (estimated)||June 20, 2019||June 23, 2019|
|Fall or spring semester||$18,995|
|Fall or spring semester with Australia Excursion||$20,290|
Apply today — How the process works
Submit a simple online application
Schedule a live video interview with a Program Coordinator
Upload program specific materials to an online portal
Receive your aceptance decision and begin your journey!
How the Process Works
To apply, click the “Apply Now” button below. You will fill out a simple initial application online and pay a deposit that is refundable if you are not accepted, and will be applied toward your overall program cost if you are accepted (not an additional fee). At this point, we will ask you to send us the following materials:
- Your resume/CV
- Cover letter (only for those pursuing an Independent Study as one of your courses)
- Official University application form
- Housing questionnaire
- Your official academic transcript
- Audition video (required for Performance Study courses with private instruction in an instrument, suggested if you hope to pursue an Independent Study as one of your courses)
- Your availability in U.S. Eastern Time for a 20-30 minute Skype interview. We will contact you with an acceptance decision within two weeks of your Skype interview.
- The Skype interviews are our first face-to-face impression of you. Show up on time, dress well, and be personable.
- Be very clear in your interviews about your intentions for your semester, and the classes you hope to take. If you are pursuing an Independent Study as one of your classes, be clear about your goals. We work hard to customize Independent Study placements to your needs, and to do this well, we need a clear picture of who you are and what you want out of your experience (and don’t want!).
- If you are pursuing an Independent Study, use the cover letter template we will send you to help organize your thoughts for the cover letter. Remember that we will be sending these to university music professors for consideration to take you on as their mentee and potential site placements to have you as an intern or visiting researcher, so put your best foot forward!
Participants must be 18 or over the day they begin the program.
GPA / Student Status
Currently enrolled students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are given priority on this program. If you are not a currently-enrolled student, or have a GPA lower than 3.0, please contact us to see if we can make an exception.
There is no language requirement for this program, as all courses are taught in English. To better acclimate to local life, we recommend learning some key Maori phrases before your departure.
We give preference to applicants with at least one year of music experience. An audition video showing your current skill is required if you hope to take a Performance Studies course where you will receive private instruction in your instrument.
We are looking for open-minded, flexible applicants who can clearly convey their passion for music and an acute interest in international travel and exposure to new ideas.