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Student story

Charlotte Walker

20 July 2023

"At UC, I feel like I am part of a team..."


Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and Linguistics, with a minor in European and European Union Studies

Master of European Union Studies

Language and Cultural Assistant, IES El Tablero, Córdoba, Spain


Why do you think European Union Studies is so fascinating to study?

European Studies is very contemporary, so there is never a dull moment. It is exciting to see how what is happening in the world now affects the EU and its relationships with the rest of the world. There is always something new to analyse, critique, research and write about. It is also extremely fun and interesting since there is such a wide scope within it. 

What drew you to study with UC?

I was very familiar with the Chinese programme and Confucius Institute at UC, having done the Chinese Bridge Speech Competition every year at high school. The Linguistics and European Studies programmes at UC are world-class, so that was another factor in my decision. I also did a year of Russian, and UC is one of if not the only university in New Zealand to offer Russian. 

How did you find life on campus?

At UC, I feel like I am part of a team, and that my part in the team matters. I am learning new and interesting things I can apply to in my life, and becoming a more well-rounded person at the same time. All of the courses I have taken at UC have been well-balanced, and I felt confident in my ability to pass them without any problems. I always enjoy the start of every new semester, as every new beginning is a new opportunity. 

Any standout moments?

In the summer of 2019 (November-February), I went on an exchange to the National Ilan University in Yilan, Taiwan with seven other students. We lived on campus in dorms, attended English classes to help Taiwanese students, and also visited primary, middle, and high schools to talk with students and introduce them to New Zealand culture. While there, I also practiced my Chinese and immersed myself in Taiwanese culture. 

That’s pretty awesome! Would you recommend doing an exchange if you’re studying a language?

I was hesitant to go at first, but I am very glad that I did because now I am more confident in myself and my Chinese language abilities. Now I am able to harness a different lens when looking at the world. I have made lifelong friends there, and important academic connections. That was the best time of my life. 

Even if you go on an exchange just to see the world, you will return with a deeper respect for other cultures and perspectives, and be a more open-minded, confident, and independent person. 

And sure enough, you’ve now moved to Spain! What does a Language and Cultural Assistant do?

I work for Spain’s Ministry of Education representing New Zealand. My job requires me to prepare materials for and assist in every year level at high school (ages 12-18) in bilingual English-taught classes of maths, philosophy, history, geography, music, technology, and biology, as well as introducing the students to New Zealand culture and accompanying them on field trips.

What inspired you to also take on the MEURO degree?

I enjoy the range of topics covered under the umbrella of the EU, and the flexibility to be able to explore different areas that are of particular interest to me. For example, last semester, I got to look at gender equality within the EU itself and its foreign policies, as well as the CSDP missions in Israel and Palestine. Because I am now living in Europe, I want to work in the field of international relations in the future.

What’s it been like studying a master’s degree at UC from a different country? 

Being a distance student with such a big time difference is challenging, as I have to sacrifice sleep for my classes (especially the one at 3am Spanish time), and balance the course workload with things I need to prepare each day for my job at high school here. I overcame these by seriously planning ahead, creating a sleep schedule based on my New Zealand classes, and making sure all of my assessments are done well within the allotted time so I don’t have to stress as the deadlines approach. 

UC does a great job with its distance degrees. I would definitely recommend doing a degree by distance, as it is challenging but also rewarding.

So what are your plans after the MEURO?

The EU’s relationships with New Zealand and Asia interest me particularly, because I have lived in and know a lot about Asia. Now, living in the EU, I can connect the two powers based on my personal experiences and view them through a New Zealand lens. 

My life’s dream is to get at least three master’s degrees (my current one, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Asian Studies specifically at Lund in Sweden), then maybe work towards a PhD in either European or Asian Studies, and work in the realm of international relations while living either in Europe or Taiwan.

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