Brian Gu interviews a Bachelor of Education student about her experience at UOA.
What are you studying this year?
I’m doing a Bachelor of Education, specializing in Early Childhood Education.
And what courses are you taking for that?
I’m taking quite a wide range of papers: art, history, psychology, science, wellbeing and marketing. And on top of that, there’s also the practical component.
Did you get the freedom to pick these papers?
They’re all set for me, except for my gen-ed (marketing); I chose one in the city because I just want to go to the city once in a while.
What’s studying in Epsom like?
Our campus is slightly smaller than the city campus with a lot less people. But it’s really a different lifestyle when you’re in the Epsom campus; it’s more of a community-based learning environment. We’re a class of 25 people [doing early childhood] around Epsom, and we have all our classes together. So we’ll definitely see each other every day. And it’s pretty great, because you get the chance to really know everyone and build a strong relationship with your classmates.
What has been your favourite course so far?
History and society, because it’s all about social justice, humanity and social class, which are things I believe are quite relevant to education. This is a paper we share with primary education, so the [Epsom] lecture theatres are usually pretty full.
What led you to a Bachelor of Education?
I feel like I’m really interested in teaching strategies, and how teachers help the students succeed in their future work and jobs. When I was in China, all parents and teachers highly valued a good education. I do have the concept in mind that we do need to achieve better, and that just makes me think of what I can do for our next generation; what I can do to help them succeed. I would also say I’m more passionate about early childhood than other stages of education. The early stages are most important for any child, the point where they undergo the most development in their life, and to be a part of that is really special.
Tell me a little bit about the practical work you’ve been doing for your degree.
All education students are off on practical work in between our semesters. So we had a two-week practical in the first semester, and a four-week practical in the second. I’ve had my first practical session at an early childhood centre called Kidstown. It was really interesting for me, growing up in China, to see how New Zealand centres operate differently. The teachers I followed were super nice! They encouraged me to interact with the children, shared with me their teaching strategies and gave me insight into the personalities and interests of the children there. So I really had a great time there, and got to know more about what early childhood centres are actually like.
Have you found any interesting clubs or hobbies around uni?
I run an organization called ‘Luckia Student Help’, which helps international students who struggle with their mental health. It’s easy for them to get depressed when they’re struggling with their school work, social life, or even when feeling bored; particularly while they’re staying with another family. I’ve also been going to a lot of workshops that the uni offers, such as writing and skill training workshops. They’re quite interesting, and I treat them as an extra tutorial for myself. I did sign up for a lot of clubs, but they’re mostly in the city so I find it inconvenient to go.
So what is travelling to the city like? Do you get a free shuttle?
No. You have to pay for every single bus you take, and it takes 20 minutes to get there. So I try not to travel so much if it’s not necessary; I’ll usually end up studying in Epsom, and meet some new friends from other pathways of our education faculty.
Do you have any funny stories from the year?
As you know, we’re a small class of 25 people. And in our class, we only have a single guy. With early childhood education being such a gender imbalanced field, I was quite surprised that we did end up having one guy in our class. But I was quite sad about that to be honest.
You were sad for him?
No! I was sad for me because I don’t get to talk to other guys. Being the only guy, he gets so popular; all the students and teacher want to talk to him. I did end up asking him why he chose education. He said it aligned with his interests, and that he didn’t want to follow the normal trend of boys doing the STEM subjects.
How has your view of university changed from high school to now?
Uni is a lot more similar to high school than I first imagined, except in a way where your time arrangement is more flexible. You have more time for yourself, to socialize with friends and you’re rewarded more freedom and independence. Otherwise, the content does not become significantly harder; it is just at a deeper level.