'I'm glad I took the opportunity to learn another language...'
Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Management Science
Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Japanese
Flight Coordinator, Milford Sound Flights, Queenstown
Victoria's appreciation of the value of learning new languages brought her from Taipei, Taiwan, to Christchurch to study.
'People always asked me why I chose to learn Japanese in New Zealand, but I enjoyed learning two languages and two cultures simultaneously,' she says. 'Learning a language is not easy, but it does give you advantages and will definitely be useful someday.
'I decided to learn Japanese because I found it difficult to travel in a country without knowing the language. I like Japanese food and am interested in Japanese culture, especially animation, and I thought it would be nice if I could actually speak to Japanese people in their language! I also developed useful translation skills.'
Victoria also took Management Science in her undergraduate Arts degree.
'I took Management Science because I believed it would help me see things from a different perspective and would help me in my career. It taught me about problem solving, critical thinking and a lot of other skills that can be applied in almost every modern business.
'I have a strong passion for language learning and travelling, and hopefully I can make a career out of it one day – I’d like to work in large international organisations.'
As an international student herself, Victoria settled into life in Christchurch nicely and the university environment helped her make plenty of friends and connections.
'It was great to be experiencing a life that is so different to home, and I felt welcome there,' she says. 'The staff in the International Relations Office are friendly and willing to help. I joined the Japanese Society and the International Students Group, and these clubs, and events in the city, gave me the chance to make friends and learn about New Zealand in ways I wouldn't otherwise.
'It's a beautiful campus, and from the start my classmates were very friendly, and that helped me get through the initial shock of studying away from home. It's easy to make friends when the classes are not so big.'
One of the features of the BA that drew Victoria to UC was the opportunity to do internships that count towards her degree. She took advantage of this and worked as a researcher for a Japanese business. She also worked for a business providing holiday programmes for Japanese-speaking kiwi children.
'That was a great opportunity to practise Japanese in a business environment and learn about the Japanese working culture – and especially to see how my two subjects could be applied together.
'Speaking to a native speaker in their language can be scary, and that does discourage you sometimes, but once you're through that stage you get that great satisfaction of being able to do it. It's okay to make mistakes, it's all part of the process of learning.'
Victoria's efforts with her study were recognised when she was awarded the Japanese Consul's Price in her third year.
'I felt honoured, and relieved, that I have really achieved something during my years there as an international student.'
After graduating, Victoria headed to Queenstown and launched her career in the tourism industry, as a Flight Coordinator for Milford Sound Flights based at Queenstown Airport. Her role incorporates much of her language and management skills, including customer service, translating for international customers, and occasionally for the company’s website and advertisements, and flight scheduling logistics.
‘I can proudly say that I contributed in a couple of cases involving Japanese agencies and helped establishing better communication for both Chinese and Japanese customers,’ she says. ‘Planning and scheduling flights is a challenge that changes daily, which makes work both frustrating and interesting. My degree in Japanese and Management Science helped me gain necessary skills for this job, and I believe it also opened many more opportunities for my future career in tourism industry.
‘A perk for a tri-lingual person working in a tourist town like Queenstown, at the airport, is that you make new friends easily. Sometimes it also feels good to help make another traveller's day by helping them to enjoy their journey. I'm glad I took the opportunity to learn another language.’