Sara Al-Harrasi

Sara Al-Harrasi

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy)

She has always loved sports and learning about the body, says Sara Al Harrasi who came to AUT as an international student from Oman to study a Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy).

“After speaking to many of my family members and people close to me, it became clear that I had to choose a major that I was passionate about. I’ve always loved helping others and wanted the profession I was getting into to largely involve that. I chose AUT because reading about the physiotherapy programme on the AUT website really drew my attention with the content, and AUT seemed very welcoming and inclusive. That was important to me as an international student.”

It’s a decision Sara hasn’t regretted, and she has thoroughly enjoyed her time at university.

“I’d definitely recommend the physiotherapy programme to others. It not only teaches you about the theory you need to know as a physiotherapist, but it also gives you the hands-on experience and teaches you the importance of working with other health professionals when it comes to treating and managing a patient. You’ll also get to learn many different areas of physiotherapy, with evidence-based knowledge you can carry with you wherever you choose to specialise.

“At AUT, there are many opportunities to build relationships with people and support services in place to help you in times of need. AUT always strives to be inclusive and ensures that every student and staff member feels culturally, socially, mentally and physically safe. Most services are free or low-cost for students, which is really helpful. The lecturers are also always willing to give and receive feedback, and are never opposed to positive change.”

Returning to New Zealand
Like for many students, the global COVID-19 pandemic caused a bit of turmoil for Sara and had her worried that she may not be able to return to New Zealand to complete her studies at AUT.

“I realised that I’d potentially have to continue my studies elsewhere. However, in my opinion New Zealand is one of the best places to study physiotherapy. I couldn’t imagine moving elsewhere. I decided to wait it out with high hopes, and thankfully I was eligible to come back. AUT has been very helpful with my return to Auckland. We had frequent check-ins where they would ensure that I was up to date with the latest changes along with support services that I could contact, as well as ensuring that I was doing well. This made me feel safe.”

Sara has some great advice for other students considering returning to AUT to finish their studies.

“New Zealand is one of the safest places to be right now. I’d advise anyone thinking of returning – especially after being away for a long time – to take it easy, ask for help when you need it and respect and abide by the new COVID-related rules that are in place to ensure the safety of yourself and the entire country. I’d also highly recommend revising your previous study content as that will make the transition back to study much less stressful.

“During your two-week quarantine when arriving back in New Zealand, look after your mental and physical health, and get rid of the jet lag while you can. I found it really helpful to video call friends and family, keep myself busy with music, TV shows, writing or revising. Also take advantage of the scheduled walks they allow you to have. It was also helpful to plan for when I left quarantine, so that I didn’t feel unorganised with where I would stay, any groceries or items I had to purchase etc. Above all else, do things that make you happy and create an environment for yourself that you’d enjoy.”

Living close to campus
Since arriving back in Auckland, Sara has also enjoyed being able to live in AUT’s brand new student accommodation near the City Campus, Te Āhuru Mayoral Drive Student Accommodation.

“The studio apartment at Te Āhuru Mayoral Drive Student Accommodation is such a great space to live in. Especially after coming straight out of quarantine after a year of being away, I needed somewhere convenient where I would have access to almost everything to make my transition back to New Zealand and AUT much easier and far less stressful.

“It’s also really clean and organised since it’s a new building, with a music room that I love. The staff and other residents here are really sweet and fun to be around, and are always willing to help.”

The social life has been another benefit of living in student accommodation for Sara.

“The social activities and occasional meetings are great opportunities to meet other residents and make new friends, as well as get to know important things about living in the accommodation. I’m very glad that I made the decision to live here and don’t regret it one bit! I would recommend this place to anyone.”

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