A polyglot and qualified translator, Aliandra gives three reasons why she is now focusing her language skills on Russian.
'Russian is a very difficult language to learn, but it is really rewarding: you will have the opportunity to experience the prose of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and many other great writers in their original language.
'Moreover, by knowing the Russian language, you will be able to understand better Russian history, to access archives, materials, to look into the past and understand the reasons behind many global events.
'Finally, Russian is one of the official United Nations languages, which means one of the languages of world communication. Thus if you learn Russian there will be numerous job opportunities available to you!'
Aliandra explains that she chose to come to UC for both academic and lifestyle reasons.
'I speak English, Italian, Russian and French and therefore strongly believe in sharing with people from different countries and backgrounds to open your mind,' she says.
'After having lived in Italy [her home country], Belgium, Russia and Scotland, I was keen to discover a non-European environment and, as I don't like doing things by half, I went to the furthest destination possible: New Zealand! I really don't regret it as I have discovered a fantastic environment and great people.'
Aliandra's thesis focuses on the future of the Russian family from the 1880s to the 1930s. This will be done by looking at various key writers and philosophers from that period. 'I find the topic of my PhD absolutely fascinating because it relates to Russia,' she explains. 'The selection of authors being considered is really interesting because it goes from the Classicals (Tolstoy, Dostoevsky) to the Modernists (Zamyatin).
'Zamyatin, for example, is really interesting. He showed in his futuristic novel We, what happens when the state collectivises love, and what the family would look like in a socialist society, where individualism and freedom were banned…
'To do a PhD in this field was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.'
Outside her research work, Aliandra is vice-president of the newly established Postgraduate Students' Association, and also works as a languages teacher for adults, a translator/interpreter, and a teaching assistant at the University.
'The University of Canterbury has excellent facilities on campus and in the Ilam Village, and it offers plenty of opportunities to get involved in community services to improve the students' life,' she says.
Aliandra is set to continue her academic career after her PhD. 'After completing my studies, I want to work as a postdoc and teach Russian at university in New Zealand, Australia or in the United States.'