'It is incredibly fun and rewarding and can lead you to places you don't even realise...'
Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Linguistics
Avalon's interest in languages has developed over a number of years. Her family once hosted a Japanese student and she went on an exchange visit to Austria.
'That gave me a taste for different cultures and languages,' she says.
However, Avalon originally came to UC to study Physics. 'I took Japanese as an extra, but I loved it so much I decided to swap.'
She added Linguistics as her second major because it naturally complements learning a language.
'Linguistics is incredibly interesting. It is really useful to have an understanding of the sounds you are trying to produce. You can relate a lot of what you learn back to yourself and it has practical applications. Most of all, it is incredibly fun and rewarding and can lead you to places you don't even realise.
'At UC, both the Linguistics and the Japanese departments have awesome lecturers who put in lots of effort to help you out. The Japanese department is small and you get to know everyone. It really builds connections. You don't feel like you are just one out of a number. My classes are quite interactive, which I really like – you get more out of it that way.
'Nowhere else would you find lecturers who are so willing to help and support you, so if you are thinking of studying Linguistics or Japanese, definitely do it here.'
In her final year, Avalon was lucky to receive the Okamatsu/Kimura-Steven Family Scholarship for studying Japanese at UC, sending her to visit Japan for the first time. ‘I highly recommend those studying Japanese to go for it to help you finally reach Japan,’ she says.
Avalon is pleased she chose to study in Christchurch, away from her home town of Whangarei.
'I didn't want to go to Auckland and pay heaps to live in a city that's close to home. I wanted to do my own thing,' she says.
Being honest, she says she didn't really like Christchurch at first, but it grew on her quickly.
'Even by the time I changed my degree, I wanted to stay. I've made some really good friends here and the place has good things going for it, with plenty of things to do that aren't a massive drive away. The Japanese community in Christchurch is big and some really great Japanese events are held here. UC's campus is really nice, and I enjoy how green it is compared to other universities.'
Much of Avalon's spare time is skiing, taking advantage of Christchurch's accessibility to ski fields. 'Otherwise, in my free time I like to watch movies and read. I'm learning how to ice cookies nicely which is kinda cool,' she adds.
Keen to build on her experiences, Avalon is currently set to head to Japan in the JET programme to be an assistant language teacher.
'I've only heard good things about the programme and it would really help my language skills,' she says. 'If I like teaching I plan to come back to NZ and try second language learning or high school teaching - or I will go for Intelligence Officer in the RNZAF. Although if I love it in Japan, I might stay there longer!'