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Studying in New Zealand – An Opportunity for Personal Growth

Published by Afterschool.my on Nov 26, 2021, 03:58 pm

Arina Aizal

Bachelor of Arts (Major: Psychology, Minor: Gender Studies) 2020

University of Otago

Finding her voice at the University of Otago

Some of us may wonder what it is like to be pursuing an education in New Zealand. What sort of experience will New Zealand provide, and how does it differ from other countries? How does a Kiwi education fare compare to universities from the UK, Australia or the US?

University of Otago alumna Arina Aizal shares all that she found exciting in her education journey and describes how her university experience not only revealed new interests, but also unlocked her potential and was the perfect launchpad for the future.

Currently working at Otago Radio Access as the Community Connector and Youth Coordinator, Arina's job is to coordinate the podcasts and programming for radio shows and highlight the respective cultures of New Zealand in various languages.

“The best part of my job is I get to host a weekly show called Connecting Cultures Features,” she says

Arinaa Community Connector and Youth Coordinator at Otago Radio Access, is a proud graduate of the University of Otago. She dedicates her life to sharing her thoughts on social issues and human rights, including speaking at the Rangatahi Race Unity Evening with the Dunedin Multi ethnic Council. 

An exciting experience of familiarity and discovery

Arina first set foot on beautiful Aotearoa (which translates from Maori to mean the Land of the Long White Cloud) when she was 10 years old. In 2009, her father decided to pursue his postgraduate education in International Studies at the University of Otago. Naturally, he brought his whanau (family) with him.

Although the family returned to Malaysia, Aotearoa New Zealand left a major impact on Arina’s life. She was inspired to pursue her tertiary studies at her father’s alma mater.

She states, “New Zealand felt like home. It gave me a strong sense of self-belief. Deciding to continue my tertiary education in Aotearoa New Zealand was an easy one.”

Arina returned to Dunedin to pursue a tertiary education as New Zealand left a huge impact on her as a child

She completed her Foundation Studies Certificate (FSC) via the University of Otago Pathway programme which offers university entrance qualifications.

After successfully completing the FSC, she enrolled in the Bachelor of Science undergraduate programme, majoring in Anatomy. She also chose to take Gender Studies and Psychology papers for extra credits.

“Surprisingly, I started to enjoy my Psychology and Gender Studies subjects more than the science papers during my second semester and so I decided to switch to the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, minoring in Gender Studies instead. It was a huge relief when I learnt that I was not required to extend a year or more despite changing majors,” she confides.

The flexibility of choosing optional subjects as part of her degree had a huge impact on her life. It helped her find her true passion for learning about human behaviour, sexual violence prevention and women’s rights.

Making her dreams come true in Dunedin

Being committed to her studies did not stop her from engaging in co-curricular and social activities at university

She loved joining cultural events and became part of the large international student community at Otago. It gave her a sense of belonging and community.

“Whenever I missed home, I would join events hosted by the Otago Malaysian Students Association.”

“I was very much involved in clubs and societies during my time in university.”. The international student community is big, but we all knew each other.” she shares. “I now have friends from all around the world!”

The University of Otago and New Zealand as a whole, welcomes and respects all communities, practices and religions. In Dunedin, Muslim students have access to:

Carving her path to success in New Zealand

Through her studies, Arina learned about the many issues and inequalities faced by women globally, this motivated her search for real life stories and hear from the women themselves She was also keen to provide these women a platform to share their untold stories with hopes that the wider larger population will learn to recognise and appreciate the challenges and diverse lives of multicultural women in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“That was why I started my radio show and podcast, ‘The Arinality’, which focuses on cultural identities, belonging, wellbeing and passions of women in New Zealand.” she says.

She was also fortunate to be noticed through her work. The most rewarding experience for her was being selected as one of the 25 to Watch in 2019 by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in its Education, Science and Research category .

She says, “This was recognition for the work I’ve done with Education New Zealand. The Asia New Zealand Foundation provides experiences and resources to help Kiwis build their knowledge, skills, and confidence to thrive in Asia. I joined their Leadership Network in 2020 and I am currently on the Advisory Board.”

Arina was also a recipient of the 20Twenties Young Alumni Awards. The award is an annual recognition by the University of Otago for young trailblazing alumni in their 20s who challenge the status quo and make an impact in their chosen fields. Arina remembers the presentation ceremony fondly as she received the award from none other than the New Zealand’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters.

Arina at the 20Twenties Young Alumni Awards and receiving her recognition from New Zealand’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters. 

For Arina, Aotearoa New Zealand is an exceptional place for work-life balance. Her time studying was enjoyable as she had the opportunity to learn more about the things she is passionate about. When she’s not studying, she’s outside exploring nature and travelling during semester breaks.

“New Zealand is beautiful and there are so many places I have yet to explore. I believe everyone should consider New Zealand for the whole package the country offers, not just the education, but the lifestyle too,” she assures.

For more information on how to Study with New Zealand, click HERE.

Thinking of applying to a New Zealand University? Speak to an ENZ Recognised Agency in Malaysia HERE.

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