3rd-year student, Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language
She has had an interest in Japanese culture and history since intermediate school, says Anna Poufa Siafolau who is completing a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language.
“In high school, it became a goal of mine to be part of the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Programme. One of the minimum requirements of the JET Programme is a bachelor’s degree, so I thought doing a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language would be a great fit.”
A recommendation from her high school teachers encouraged Anna to study at AUT.
“One of the reasons I chose AUT was because both of my high school Japanese teachers had also studied there and highly recommended it to me. Aside from lectures being smaller, giving students more one-on-one time with their teachers, they also cited the lecturers themselves as friendly and always willing to go the extra mile when helping out students.
“When I participated in the Japanese High School Speech Competition in Year 13, which was hosted by AUT, I was able to see this for myself. Not too long after, I received an AUT Woolf Fisher First in Family Scholarship to study at AUT; needless to say, this reaffirmed my choice.”
Experiencing life in Japan
Going on a student exchange to Hirosaki University in Japan has been one of the highlights of Anna’s studies.
“It was a life-changing time that enabled me to experience a new culture and lifestyle. While I had previously travelled around urban areas in Japan that were modern and bustling with tourists, Hirosaki was a small countryside town rich in culture and scarce in foreigners, which also meant that English was rarely spoken. It pushed me to use my Japanese speaking skills, and being completely immersed in the culture and language made me feel like I was receiving a genuine overseas experience.”
She would highly recommend going on a student exchange, Anna says.
“While you can travel overseas whenever you want, going during university is a completely different experience. Unlike coming as a tourist, you get to experience the authentic lifestyle and daily routine; and unlike coming as a worker, you get to enjoy life without worrying too much about having to work.”
Advice for other students
Expecting to graduate at the end of 2019, Anna has some great advice for other students.
“My advice is to take any and every opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It might be difficult at first, but it’s better to give everything a try rather than to let an opportunity pass and then regret it later on.”
Like many students, Anna found adjusting to university quite challenging at first.
“I was a shy student who wasn’t really great at making friends, so it was hard for me to socialise with my classmates. However, during this time I came into contact with the Oceanian Leadership Network at AUT.
“I participated in the network’s AspireUp initiative, and was given many opportunities for growth in terms of my self-confidence, socialisation skills and especially my leadership skills. Thanks to this exposure I was able to come out of my shell and begin to enjoy university life to its fullest.”