Meet Our New Zealand Resident Director
Sian Munro, New Zealand Resident Director
- WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A RESIDENT DIRECTOR?
- I love meeting students at the beginning of their time here and being part of their exploration of New Zealand. It astounds me how much they pack into their stay while still managing to be successful students. At the end of the semester it's great to hear their observations on New Zealand culture and what they will take away from their study abroad experience.
- HOW DID YOU BECOME A RESIDENT DIRECTOR?
- Like many people I fell into International Education and loved it from the first instant so have been very fortunate to make a career out of it. I worked at the University of Otago for a number of years providing student support to international students. I lived in the U.K. for two years where I worked in a cultural exchange company based in London and traveled in Europe and the U.S. I joined IFSA-Butler as a Student Services Coordinator for University of Otago students and am now the Resident Director of all five of our New Zealand Programmes..
- WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING STUDENTS LEARN ABOUT NEW ZEALAND?
- That for such a small country, New Zealand is incredibly diverse both culturally and geographically. You could be surfing on a white sandy beach, skiing on majestic mountain ranges and walking through temperate rain forests all on the same (very busy!) day. The most important thing to know while enjoying this diversity is that our changeable climate is the biggest threat.
- WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE NEW ZEALAND BAND?
- New Zealand has a thriving contemporary music scene, but my favorites are more old school bands called Crowded House and The Exponents. I also like Brooke Fraser, Dave Dobbyn and Bic Runga.
- WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR STUDENTS STUDYING IN NEW ZEALAND?
- Come to NZ through IFSA-Butler! Our programme is a great way to get into New Zealand culture from the moment you step off the plane. We have an awesome four-day orientation so that our students get over their jet lag, get to know each other and enjoy some quintessential New Zealand activities. On the final night we stay on a Marae which is a Maori meeting place in a big room altogether, this is a real highlight for our students. My advice once students get to their new cities is to make the most of being in New Zealand and travel when you can but at the same time try and join a club that has kiwi students in it so that you can get an intercultural experience.
- WHAT ARE SOME OF THE AMAZING PLACES YOU'VE VISITED AROUND THE WORLD?
- It is really hard to narrow it down because I have done quite a bit of traveling in Europe and both coasts in the U.S. I loved Tuscany in Italy, Dubrovnik in Croatia and New York is an amazing city. I also relish any sandy beach with a hot climate, so Sydney, the Gold Coast and Rarotonga were fantastic places to holiday.
- TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND.
- I was brought up in Dunedin and studied at the University of Otago. I have been involved in international student support at the University of Otago since graduating with my honor's degree in social anthropology. I was so interested in international education, a Master of Arts in the field quickly followed. After completing my master's degree, I moved to the U.K. where I worked for the American Institute for Foreign Study at their office in London. I also traveled through Europe as much as possible, made three trips to the U.S. and went to Peru to set up a volunteer project. When I returned home, I was appointed the international student advisor in the International Office at University of Otago. After having my children, I started at IFSA-Butler as student support coordinator before taking up the resident director position. It's such a privilege working with study abroad students as it's such a life-enhancing experience for them.
- WHAT IS A VISITOR "MUST-SEE" IN NEW ZEALAND?
- New Zealand is so diverse and easy to get around. Fortunate for our students, each of the cities where we have programs are fantastic places to live, but also accessible to "must-see" tourist attractions. However, my favorite place in New Zealand is Nelson and the area around the top of the South Island (Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri Beach to name a few top spots). If you like stunning beaches and clear green sea, this is a must do!
- WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE NOT BUSY WORKING WITH STUDENTS?
- We have two young daughters who keep us busy. I also try to stay active by running or playing netball and touch rugby. Sewing is also a hobby of mine.
- WHAT'S YOUR DREAM VACATION?
- Anywhere hot with a beach, river or lake to cook down in and a playground close by!
- Visit our New Zealand resident office website