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Student story

Aiko Sakurai

20 July 2023

"I like how I can choose subjects that I want to study flexibly..."


Studying towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations with a minor in Linguistics

Tell us what motivated you to study at UC.

I decided to stay here in Christchurch for university because I like the culture and people, and how accommodating it is in New Zealand. I like how I can choose subjects that I want to study flexibly within the Bachelor of Arts and be able to keep my options open for my career. I can focus on what I really enjoy learning which motivates me to work hard and deepen my knowledge. 

What advice would you give to someone considering studying an Arts degree?

In the Bachelor of Arts, very often you have to read a lot which I think is different from high school and it can be hard, but you will gradually get better at it so don’t worry. 

I think the key advice for a fulfilling university life is self-control and self-management. My motto is “the biggest enemy is yourself”, which motivates me to be a little harder on myself and apply self-control. You are the only responsible person for your study because in university, no one will tell you to study. However don’t be scared, university might look and sound overwhelming but the lecturers and tutors at UC are really supportive and are always there for you.

What support services helped you develop those self-management skills?

I have used the Academic Skills Centre for seminars and quick 10-minute enquiry sessions. The people there are so nice and very helpful. I think the 10-minute quick enquiry sessions are very helpful as there is no need to make an appointment and you can just go and ask your questions straight away when you are busy.

I have also attended an English support session for international students. It was helpful for my study and it also gave me a great opportunity to make friends with other international students.

Any challenges you have learned to overcome as an international student?

I think the most challenging thing has been the language barrier. Even though I got better at English at high school, because university is one step up, it has been still challenging for me. Especially in university, there is a lot of reading which is different from high school. At the beginning, I was struggling to do it, but after doing it every day, it got easier and I got better at it. So what I have learned from this was even if something is difficult, if you keep doing it every day, you gradually improve and overcome the challenge. And of course, there are always people around me who helped me to overcome the challenges.

Once you graduate from UC, what are your future plans in political science?

I aspire to work for the United Nations or other International organisations eventually. In order to do that, I will have to do a postgraduate or master’s degree and then work for an enterprise to gain experience. I would like to go volunteering in other countries to help people, as well as gain further experience and build knowledge and skills that would be useful to my dream job.

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