Fionn Tahu Balfour

Fionn Tahu Balfour

Student, Master of Physics, Aix-Marseille University, France
Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences in Applied Mathematics and Astronomy

Ngai Tahu

The approachable academic staff are what stood out most about his time at AUT, says Fionn Tahu Balfour who completed a Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences in Applied Mathematics and Astronomy.

“The academic staff in the Mathematical Sciences department are beyond approachable, and welcome questions and personal engagement in any subject. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support, teaching and encouragement. I was never a naturally gifted or even particularly studious student, however they provided their time, passion and knowledge whenever I reached out.”

He would highly recommend the Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences.

“It’s a very friendly programme, and you graduate with an impressive sounding degree. The only thing I would say is that one needs to work hard. In mathematics, if you get 80% on an assignment, that probably means that you didn't know 20% of what you should know. That will come back to bite you later on. You should aim to be at least a B+ student.”

A new life in France
Since completing his AUT degree, Fionn is now living in France where he is enrolled in a Master of Physics at Aix-Marseille University.

“In the final semester of my bachelor’s degree I went on a student exchange to France. I wanted to stay in France and continue learning French, but I didn’t have a clear idea of what to do here.

“Then, one morning I met a Congolese man on the bus to university and we got talking. He was a mathematician who had done his studies in Cape Town, and he suggested looking into Aix-Marseille University as its mathematics department is extremely good. This I did, and found a master’s programme in theoretical physics that looked fascinating and amazingly was taught in English.”

It all came together perfectly for him, says Fionn who is enjoying his studies and rates Marseilles as his favourite city in France and possibly the world.

Advice for other students
Fionn, who graduated in August 2018, has some great advice for other students.

“Study what interests you, enjoy your studies and look into every opportunity the university provides, including scholarships, exchange programmes and seminars you can attend.

“Use the library to read, engage with your lecturers, ask questions constantly and always remember you’re there to learn.”

Fionn himself has certainly made the most of his time at AUT, and managed to fit his studies around travelling and work. He also recommends taking advantage of the language courses on offer at AUT, as being able to speak at least two languages is a huge benefit.