Alanya Chalernphon

Alanya is from Vientiane in Laos, where she has been working as a research project assistant. She is now at UC studying towards a Master of Health Sciences.

I’m pursuing this degree so that when I go back home I can work in community health. One advantage of this Master’s is that it can be applied to any aspect of health, from wellbeing to education. It's a very wide discipline and it will enable me to develop my own career and help the community as well.

Alanya says part of the reason she chose UC was for the ‘jawdropping’ natural scenery.

There is a lot of natural beauty here in the South Island. The scenery is jawdropping, with snowy mountains in the winter and the sea all around. We don’t have any ocean back home! It’s easy to enjoy nature too because everything is within driving distance.

She describes Christchurch and the UC campus as very relaxed and welcoming.

Christchurch is a very peaceful city. You can get around the whole city really easily by bus. I love the campus too. I’m always telling my friends about how spacious it is. There are trees everywhere and lots of places where you can sit down and relax. The air is fresh. It's so nice!

Alanya has found the people at UC to be very supportive and friendly. 

I live in a campus residence along with other international students. That's where I do most of my socialising. If you want to meet more people there lots of clubs you can join. There’s no pressure either, you can just go along when something interests you. UC is a very social place. Everywhere I go people smile at me! 

She says her favourite thing about the learning experience is the participatory teaching style. 

I'm studying at a postgrad level so I don't have formal lectures. They’re more like interactive sessions where you can share ideas and ask questions. The classes are small which I enjoy because I feel like I can really engage. I learn best in this kind of setting.

Alanya says the teachers are open and accessible, and that there is less of a hierarchy between lecturers and students.

The lecturers at UC are extremely approachable. You can ask them any time about things you don't understand. It's very different to my culture, but it's a positive difference!

Part of her degree has seen Alanya gain skills and understanding about the relationship between culture and health.

Here at UC I’ve learned about Māori health models and how they work. In Laos we have 49 ethnic groups, so learning how to educate people across different cultures will really help me to make a difference in the community. New Zealand has a great framework for cultural competency and I look forward to taking those learnings back home with me.

Overall, Alanya has loved her UC experience and says it was the right choice for her.

I’m so happy I came to UC. I know I made the right choice. I always tell my friends who want to study overseas to apply here! It’s not just about UC itself, it’s also about enjoying the wider city and natural environment. Having that balance is important. If you have a good life, it makes your study better too.