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Student story

Josephine Varghese

20 July 2023

"UC offers lots of avenues for political and social engagement..."


Studying towards a PhD in Anthropology

You're a PhD student, wow, tell us about that!
It's pretty tough! I’m writing 80,000 words which is basically a book. It will feel like a big achievement when I'm done. If I can do this, I can do anything!

What’s your subject?
I’m looking at the experience of rural to urban migration of young women in India. I'm looking at solo migrants. I’m from a rural area in South India myself so it's a project that's very close to my heart. This is my story too!

Highlight of your degree so far?
I spent a total of 10 months doing fieldwork in Chennai, India. I lived with my participants in their shared accommodation. I get to present an insider’s perspective to a global audience. I think it’s critical to hear voices from the inside, given the Eurocentric bias of a lot of the literature.

How have you found coming to NZ?
It's been very interesting. I would absolutely recommend anybody to go overseas and study, especially at a postgraduate level. It's good to learn about different cultures and political systems. It adds to your life experience and you can take a different model back home with you.

You’ve become a mentor at UC. Tell us about that!
When I first arrived it was quite a culture shock. The connections I made are what got me through, so I decided I should help new international students coming in. The mentoring program here is excellent. It helps students make the most of their time at UC.

How else have you been involved?
I've been active in the Feminist Society, Amnesty International and the Equity and Wellbeing Advisory Board. UC offers lots of avenues for political and social engagement. I think it’s important for international students to be active in the local community as it enriches their experience of being overseas.

What do you plan on doing when you finish your degree?
I'm keeping myself open. Unfortunately, many universities in India still don't have the same sort of resources and exposure as UC, so I feel like my opportunities here are much wider. I’d like to contribute to the NGO sector, specifically in the area of women's issues. I've really enjoyed the experience of starting a new life by myself in another country and could definitely see myself doing that some more!

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