Rachel Goh - “If you're having trouble making friends ....”


Rachel Goh

Rachel has travelled from Singapore to study Psychology at the University of Otago. She is often seen running around campus juggling various commitments. 

When I first found out I was going to Dunedin, I remember thinking “Where’s this place? Is it true there are more sheep than people? How on earth am I going to survive knowing that shops close at 5? What can I do for fun?” I’m sure these questions are pretty drastic but for a girl who found out she was going to Dunedin to study in less than a month… well it was pretty understandable. I was an interesting case because my parents were the ones that applied to the foundation school in New Zealand for me. They wanted me to have an overseas education and pretty much uprooted me from my school in Singapore to attend a pre-university course in NZ.  And I am so grateful for that every day.Living on my own in a foreign country can be scary, especially if you don’t know anything about the city (well except from Wikipedia of course). All I knew about Dunedin was that it was a university town and don’t forget the fact that there was probably nothing much to do after 5pm except to stay at home and chill. Thus, my first few weeks in Dunedin mainly consisted of me going to classes and going home. It does sound boring doesn’t it? Well, the only way from the bottom is up and things started changing when I met my best friend Caroline.


“Singapore to Dunedin”

Caroline and I didn’t have a good impression of each other when we first met. I thought she was too cool for me, and she thought I was way too quiet. We couldn’t have been more wrong about each other! Anyway, after a rocky start, we gradually became really close and she got me to join the Otago Singapore Club (OSC) as she was the president in 2010-11. I really admired the work she had done because she was organising all these food events, paintball events etc. to bring us Singaporeans together.  It was through her that I was able to open myself up to people and when I started to truly feel like a part of the Dunedin community.  


“… she got me to join the Otago Singapore Club.”

I know some people may not agree with me on hanging out with my fellow countrymen, because who goes to a different country and hang out with the same people you hang out with back home? But in truth, joining an activity (be it your cultural club, a sport, a musical activity) is the best place to make friends if you’re someone like me. Otago University has a whole slew of clubs that have the loveliest people you will ever meet and will get you immersed into the university culture right away (http://www.ousa.org.nz/recreation/clubs/). From archery, kickboxing, to dance, Otago has it all for the shy and quiet individual.  Even if you’re a naturally brave and outgoing person, joining an activity won’t hurt as you will be making new friends and learning a new skill at the same time! Anyway, while I took the comfortable route of making friends with people from similar backgrounds, it was a great platform for me to meet people of all cultures. Dunedin is such a small and close-knit community that it is impossible to not know anybody who is from other country.  We have so many inter-club activities that also help you meet people all over the world! I used to joke that my friends are similar to the United Nations because my friends are from New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India and more.