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Student story

Brennan Galpin

20 July 2023

"I learn more and more and with each week I have new tools with which to communicate..."


(Ngāi Tahu)

Bachelor of Arts in Japanese with a minor in Linguistics

Coordinator of International Relations (CIR), JET Programme, Japan

Having been to high school in Japan on an exchange, and trained in Kyokushin karate for 15 years, Brennan’s passion for Japanese language and culture made it an easy decision choosing university study. 

After starting at UC, Brennan also decided on Chinese and Linguistics after finding that he "loved language in general’ and wanted to develop more cross-cultural skills.

"I love language learning because you can see the results so easily. I learn more and more and with each week I have new tools with which to communicate with a broader group of people,’ he says.

"Linguistics has given me a better understanding of my English and helped me learn foreign languages with a bit more ease. It’s also helped my communications skills and I feel I can get my point across to people more clearly."

Hearing from others about the reputation of UC’s Japanese department inspired him to enrol here, and Brennan has since lived in College House and Ilam Apartments hall of residences during study, and taken part in JSoc Japanese Society.

"I enjoy the friends I’ve made there in both staff and students. It’s exciting being in Christchurch with all the rebuilding going on, it’s taking shape into something really cool. And of course I also enjoy what I’m studying here."

During his first year, Brennan won first place in the JSANZ Tertiary Japanese Language Contest, a national competition with students competing from New Zealand universities. Brennan did a speech about his karate training, and was awarded a trip to Japan during the summer before starting his second year at UC. 

Brennan also had the amazing experience of completing an internship with Kiwijana Ltd through the PACE 395 course, a company providing educational and business experiences for university students in both Japan and New Zealand. Brennan’s role saw him working directly with the company’s founder, Tony Oikawa.

"I found it to be incredibly enriching but very busy. I did lots of translation and interpreting work for him and got a good taste for how it’ll actually be in the work force. I would definitely recommend an internship to other students, while it’ll be hard work it will most definitely be worth it."

His final year was spent on exchange to Kyoto University Japan, on a Monbukagakusho MEXT Scholarship. There Brennan published a research paper on Japanese high school English education.

Following his graduation with UC, Brennan has headed back to Japan to work as a Coordinator of International Relations with the JET Programme. His role assists local government with implementing exchange events and activities, translation, and teaching English to their employees. 

"I like to do something that involves language and making people’s lives better somehow," he says. 

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