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Student story

Hongyu Guo

20 July 2023

"My peers at UC are from all over the world..."


Studying towards a PhD in Transportation Engineering


Tell us about your student journey to Aotearoa New Zealand.

I am originally from a city in China called Hefei.

After I got my master’s degree in Traffic Engineering from Tongji University,  I worked in a road design institution for half a year before I came to UC. The workload was quite heavy and I didn’t have enough time to develop my own hobbies. Life seemed to be repetitive every day. So I decided to jump out of that life and do something innovative.

I visited New Zealand in 2016 and I was impressed by the beautiful sceneries, nice weather, and friendly people. I did some research on UC and found out it is very strong in Civil Engineering and also very internationalised, hence, I decided to start my PhD journey at UC. So I can enjoy life and learn more than the academic knowledge at the same time.

What inspired you to study your subject and degree?

My research area is related to transportation engineering, as I am really interested in this topic and I want to solve some real-world traffic problems, such as traffic congestion and traffic safety issues; they all have negative impact on our daily life. Besides, I always want to use new technologies or do some innovative work to solve traffic problems, rather than doing repetitive work like before. Being a PhD candidate in transportation engineering is a good beginning.

In addition, I am using the lastest technology, such as AI and connected vehicles, to study lane change behaviours in my degree. I truly believe my study will help to improve traffic efficiency and safety one day in the future.

As one of the first 250 Postgraduate students to be able to travel back to New Zealand since the pandemic outbreak, has there been support on hand from UC?

Thanks to the support from UC, without their help, I could not have returned to NZ in January and continue my research. I remember only a few days after the announcement about the 250 PhD students border expemption, UC had formed a support team called "UC Ahead" to help students like me.

My name was on the list of the students that UC has nominated, and I got the approval for border exemption after about a month. When I applied for the critical purpose visa, the team at UC prepared some important supporting documents for me. Although it was very close to the Christmas holiday, the team tried their best to help me. Finally, my visa got approved. I booked a ticket and isolation facility and then got back to NZ.

To be honest, quarantine life in the hotel is a little bit boring but I can’t forget the day when I received a "welcome back" gift pack from UC International Relations Office team when I was in the quarantine hotel. It was really impressive and made me feel welcomed!

Tell us about your part-time job as a Teaching Assissant (TA) and your day-to-day life as a UC student.

My oral English has improved a lot since working as a TA. I need to help with students' enquires about the courses and assignments. I believe my experience as a TA will help my future career goal – becoming a Lecturer in a university.

Doing a PhD is kind of like working. I go to the office in the morning and do some reseach or TA work. I usually return home or go to the Recreation Centre in the afternoon.

How have you found life in Christchurch and New Zealand as an international student?

I think life as an international student here in Christchurch is nice and happy. I love the parks in Christchurch. There are so many parks here and I can go for a walk in a park nearby very easily.

In addition, the people here are very friendly and my peers at UC are from all over the world. In terms of locals, I found it is not difficult to integrate with the local community at all.

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