'It did not take me long to feel like “home” in the frames of UC...'
Studying Communication Studies at the Danish School of Media and Journalism has been perfect for Maria, as someone who greatly enjoys learning about the effect media has on daily life.
‘I have always been fond of how words affect the way we understand and interpret the world. A word or a sentence can make a whole difference. I like the detail of the work and I like to work creatively. The Communication Studies degree was able to give me both the creative and the academic way of working with communication,’ she says.
Her studies in Copenhagen, Denmark, has a lot of practical focus with real world cases of media influence and ‘hands-on’ team projects. Completing an internship for a year at a theatre festival called CPH STAGE inspired her to combine her love for drama with a cultural communications career in the future.
‘Cooperation between people is just as important in real life as it is on a stage,’ she says.
When the opportunity came up to do an exchange as part of her degree, Maria wanted to go to a country where she could learn to improve her English skills.
‘When I found out that University of Canterbury was one of the partner universities, it did not take me long to put it on my “bucket list”,’ she says. ‘UC is a university with a lot of nuances. The diversity of both the people working and studying here as well as the courses made it an easy choice. UC seemed as a professional and sympathetic university. I could easily see myself grow as a student and as a human being in such an environment.’
Maria particularly enjoyed courses here on the cultural affect media and advertising have on social perceptions and buying trends, especially from a critical lens.
‘I have been lectured by some of the best and most inspiring professors. I felt inspired in every single class and got educated, not only on a professional level, but also on a personal level. These classes made me reflect upon the daily exposure of mediated news stories that direct our behaviour and the way that we hear about and understand the world as citizens, consumers, and users.’
The campus environment has also been a huge part of her development. Attending a much larger and diverse university was a very new experience, and one that she thoroughly enjoyed.
‘I have been very impressed with the way that UC made all students feel welcome from the beginning of the semester with various social and professional events. It did not take me long to feel like “home” in the frames of UC. The new surroundings showed me a side of the student life that I haven’t met with before.
‘I have stayed in Ilam Apartments and have been very pleased with the accommodation. I felt welcomed from the minute that I entered the Accommodation Office with a big suitcase and a tired mind after 30 hours of traveling. I have met people from all over the world while staying at Ilam and it was a great fit for me as an exchange student.’
Taking part in social clubs on campus was also a priority, which saw her involved with events from the UC Wine Club, Canterbury University Tramping Club, and DRAMASOC.
‘There were so many interesting clubs that I would have loved to be a part of, but time has been limited and I have had some really fun and beautiful experiences with the clubs that I took part of,’ she says. ‘Clubs are not common at the university where I come from and it has therefore been a very positive experience. I would definitely encourage both international students as well as my own home university to take part in those kinds of social events and societies.’
Similarly, New Zealand itself has helped her experience new things and gain some personal growth.
‘Life as an international student is in many ways indescribable because you are not only educated in the classroom, you are educated from your first steps out of the airport to the last goodbye.
‘I have enjoyed the nature of New Zealand, discovered hidden spots of Christchurch, and learned about the cultural identity of New Zealanders. I have experienced long evenings with new friends, roadtrips in magnificent surroundings, beautiful walks in silent nature, and had outstanding coffee. All of which I will miss when I get back home.’
From these amazing memories, Maria believes that every student should look towards doing an exchange while at university.
‘Do it right away, no second thoughts. It is an experience for a lifetime,’ she says. ‘We need to explore the world to be able to come back with new knowledge and new views of the world, which is just as diverse as UC.’