Victoria Abroad

Meet some of our Pacific and Maori students who have studied overseas on exchange as part of their Victoria degree!

Victoria University offers exchange scholarships for students of Pacific and Maori descent. Find out more about the Kura Mai Tawhiti and Tufi Taufao Scholarships here.

Dylan Victoria Abroad Erin Victoria Abroad Lauren Victoria Abroad

Dylan Sofa

Samoa, Ngapuhi

Erin Carr

Ngati Awa, Tuhoe

Lauren Oakes

Samoa, NZ

Lucas Victoria Abroad Sarah Victoria Abroad Edon Victoria Abroad

Lucas Gammie


Sarah Wilson

Rongomaiwahine, Mahia

Edon Hoppenner




Vic OE PArtner Uni - Canada

Dylan Sofa Samoa, Ngapuhi

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Media Studies

Exchange University: University of Victoria, Canada.

"Study, go to classes, put in effort and use every opportunity to grow your mind and expand your universe.”

Dylan spent a trimester in the Canadian university, and says the experience has truly changed him.
“Coming home, I see the same things in new ways. The experience went well beyond the confines of classroom. It’s easy to be ‘open minded’ on paper but the proof is most definitely in the doing.”
Dylan says while he found studying at another university easier than he anticipated, he was careful not to overload himself with courses.
“If you're travelling to the other side of the world to spend every day indoors studying then you’re not doing it right. Study, go to classes, put in effort and use every opportunity to grow your mind and expand your universe. Being on exchange, a lot more of these lessons are learned outside of the classroom.”
He says his adventures were endless: “Spending time with the drug abused homeless and singing with new friends on the streets of Vancouver; waking up watching the sun rise over the desert at Phoenix Airport; stepping out into the streets of Chicago at the exact moment that the rain turned to snow; snow shoeing through the forests and across frozen streams of Muskoka.”
And according to Dylan, when it comes to meeting people and making new friends, New Zealand exchange students have a head start.
“We have a massive advantage in having an accent. If nothing else, it’s a great way of opening conversation. The Kiwi accent is so universally loved and appreciated that it almost feels like cheating!

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Erin Matariki Carr Ngati Awa, Tuhoe

Degree: Bachelor of Laws and Arts, International Relations & Spanish

Exchange University: University of Monterrey in Mexico

“I wanted to throw myself into someone else’s world. A new life is there, just one flight away waiting for you.”

If you’ve heard the phrase ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’, you’ll understand what motivated Erin Carr to go with Victoria Abroad to Universidad de Monterrey in Mexico.
“I wanted to get out of the grind of my daily routine, out of my own turf where everything and everyone is familiar. I wanted to throw myself into someone else’s world. A new life is there, just one flight away, waiting for you.”
The law and arts student of Ngāti Awa and Tūhoe descent says raising funds for her trip and leaving whānau behind were some big challenges she faced, but were never enough to convince her not to go.
“You have two options: stay safe at home or take a risk and have an adventure. I think the answer is easy: take the chance, you will only ever regret the things you never did.”
Erin says being in a country like Mexico where people have so little, taught her how to appreciate all that she has.
“I learnt so much about myself. I became more self-aware and confident in who I am, and I learnt a lot from new friends and the values they have.”
She says her experience has also given her a wonderful perspective on where her studies can take her, how big the world is and how many opportunities are there for the taking.
Her tip is to take the opportunities available to go on on exchange with Victoria Abroad in the first place.
“With money, be smart. Find the grants and scholarships you are entitled to—there are a million out there. An exchange is an investment in your future. Your iwi and whānau are there to support you – let them!”
Her other piece of advice for students is that when it comes to money, now is the cheapest and most convenient time in your life to go overseas.
“Grants, scholarships, student allowances, not to mention all the student concessions on flights and events, are at the ready. You don’t have any super serious whānau commitments, no mortgage to pay and no children to support. Don’t put travel off for later – this is the best time to go.”

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Lauren Oakes Samoa, NZ

Degree: Bachelor of Design, Industrial Design

Exchange University: Pennsylvania State University, USA

“Seeing the world has been really important in grasping where I have come from and where I want to end up.”

The first day Lauren Oakes arrived in Pennsylvania, all she wanted to do was turn around and go back home.
“I wondered what I had done and why I would want to come to a country where I knew no one. But after two days I didn’t ever want to leave!”
Lauren’s Samoan grandmother was the inspiration behind her decision to spend a trimester at Penn State University through Victoria Abroad.
“My grandma immigrated to New Zealand to start a better life for her family. I wanted to challenge myself in the same way – throw myself in the deep end and see what happened.”
Finding her way around a college campus 10 times the size of Victoria’s was one of her first challenges. But the industrial design student relished the real college experience – staying in dorms, attending frat parties, football and basketball games, joining the ski club, and walking through the thick snow on her way to class. And she spent her weekends travelling, taking in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Vermont and New York City.
Lauren says her Victoria Abroad experience has helped her gain confidence and allowed her to become more independent.
“Seeing the world has been really important in grasping where I have come from and where I want to end up. There is so much more out there for me to explore and I can’t wait to get started.”

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Lucas Gammie Tainui

Degree: Bachelor of Commerce, Management, Human Resources & Industrial Relations

Exchange University: Dalhousie University, Canada

 “It ranks as one of my greatest experiences to date”

Asked to describe his time at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, BCom student Lucas Gammie has one word: “thrilling”.
“It automatically pushed me out of my comfort zone. It was a chance to create new friends, go to new places, and try out new experiences.”
Lucas says going on an exchange with Victoria Abroad has broadened his perspectives towards study and positioned him to get more out of university.
“I encountered some situations where what the Dalhousie students were being taught, I had learned differently, and vice versa. It gave me insight into how there is no one right way when it comes to management studies, as cultural differences and situations play an influential part.”
While Lucas acknowledges it was hard to leave his family and friends for the first time, he believes the self-reliance and independence he developed on his exchange have been significant.
“Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the situation. Where you come to the point where you become unsure about it, just do it! Everything that was a worry will go away, and you will be surprised at how things fall into place for you.”
Lucas also valued the opportunity to go travelling around Canada and the United States after finishing up his studies.
“Overall Victoria Abroad really kick-started my own potential, and helped reinforce how special a place New Zealand really is. It ranks as one of my greatest experiences to date, and it can be for others also.”

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Sarah Wilson  Rongomaiwahine, Mahia

Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Chinese & International Relations

Exchange University: Renmin University, China

Total immersion is definitely the best way to learn a language!”

For Chinese studies student Sarah Wilson, being thrown in the deep end at Beijng’s Renmin University was a sink or swim situation. Sarah chose to do a bit of both.
“Total immersion is definitely the best way to learn a language! It has given me confidence to speak Chinese and has helped me understand the language in a way that I couldn’t grasp in New Zealand.”
Improving her Mandarin skills and getting in some travel while she was at university were Sarah’s main motivations for going on a VicOE to China. She says the exchange broadened her mind not only in regards to China but to different cultures all over the world.
“I made friends from China, but also from Vietnam, Korea, Israel, Russia, Finland, England and many other countries.”
A highlight she shared with some of those friends was climbing a section of the Great Wall and camping overnight.
“It was amazing. It was a great way to bond and is something I’ll always remember. Every week I had the opportunity to visit a different imperial palace, temple, tomb and various other buildings and parks.
“I was told before I left for China that I would fall in love with the country and my friends were right. My exchange was an experience I will never forget.”

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Edon Hoppener Tuwharetoa

Degree: Bachelor of Laws and Arts, History & International Relations

Exchange University: Universite Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France

“Travelling overseas will change you, and you will then be able to give so much back to your whānau and community.”

“Just do it.”
That’s the advice Edon Hoppener has for any Māori or Pasifika students considering studying on exchange. The law student, of Ngāti TÅ«wharetoa descent, says that going overseas colours and enhances the university experience in ways that are almost wholly positive.
“Travelling overseas will change you, and you will then be able to give so much back to your whānau and community.”
Edon spent a trimester studying at the Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, seizing the opportunity to experience hostel life, something he’d missed out on at Victoria. “Being from Wellington, I hadn’t had that ‘scarfie’ experience, and I wanted to make that happen, so why not do that in France?”
He acknowledges the financial impact of his decision to travel was significant but says if you plan and work hard, things will work out.
“It’s really important that you stringently budget every day and not go over that budget. Europe is pricey. A good idea is to imagine how much you’re going to need across your entire exchange year, and then double that. You really won’t regret taking those extra shifts at The Warehouse.”
Edon says that while everyone’s exchange experience is different, for him it was about learning to live overseas, experiencing different cultures, learning a new language, and making amazing friends.
“Underpinning all of this was a sense that when you go overseas, it’s not the language or the exchange courses, or even the amazing friends you make that are the biggest changes. It’s yourself. You learn a lot about yourself. And self-awareness changes you. It’s a double edged sword, but it’s a good thing to have. So yeah, like I said, just do it.”

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Application Deadlines

10 July - For exchange in Trimester 1 of the following year.


1 December - For exchange in Trimester 2 of the following year.


Some Host Universities have a yearly intake only and will require you apply by December 1 for exchange during Trimester 2 the following year or Trimester 1 the year after that. Please check the notes under you chosen universities to see if this applies to you. e.g. University of British Columbia (UBC), Waseda University, Dalhousie Law, University of Victoria, Osaka University.

Missed the Victoria Abroad application deadline?

If you have missed the deadline, don't despair! Contact Victoria Abroad as you may be able to submit a late application. Please note that there may not be places still available at your proposed host universities, so you may need to be flexible with your exchange plans.