The Inside Scoop: What it’s like to study at the University of Canterbury

May 27, 2019 | 0 comments

The University of Canterbury. The only place in the country where the ratio of engineering students to sheep is 1:1.


Founded in 1873, the University of Canterbury’s main campus spans across 76 hectares in the suburb of Ilam, Christchurch. The University of Canterbury is NZ’s second oldest university, now with additional small campuses in Nelson, Tauranga and Timaru, and teaching centres all across the country.


But, aside from tales of societies providing you your home away from home and budding engineers in every nook of the library, what is it really like to study at the mighty UC?


We spoke to three students of the past and present to find out.


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UC’s musical society MuSoc presenting ‘Footloose’ in March 2019. (Courtesy of the University of Canterbury Facebook page)



Insider: Fresher.


1. So, you’re a first year at Canterbury Uni. Were there any stereotypes or misconceptions you’d heard about Canterbury before going in?


I had heard that Canterbury wasn’t very diverse in terms of ethnicity and that it was very engineer heavy.



2. Was it as expected or were those misconceptions exceeded?


I’d say my expectations were pretty spot on, not many PoC (people of colour) here and most people studying here are in fact doing engineering. 



3. What was the transition like going into Canterbury, and how has that changed (or not changed) now?


The transition was fairly effortless, everyone at the university is super willing to help any student understand what they’re supposed to be doing. I think the hardest part was learning how to cite/reference properly and consistently as it’s very tedious and was completely different to high school referencing.



4. Where’s your favorite place to study at Canterbury?


Honestly….. the library, specifically levels 9 and 4.   



5. If you could give one piece of advice to your high school self, what would it be?


My advice would be: everything is temporary.



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University of Canterbury Central Library.


Insider: Mid-year.


1. You’re no longer a wide-eyed first year. What’s life like now at UC? Has it gotten harder? Easier?


Easier for sure! It’s a scary prospect to move away from the close community that high school provides to doing everything yourself – especially in a totally new city! It doesn’t take long to adjust though, and if you live in a hall/dorm for first year (which I recommend to everyone) there’s a good little transition phase. I eventually learnt to balance going out with studying, and making good sleeping habits without mum’s input.



2. Describe a typical uni day for you in a couple of sentences.


It’s a flexible timetable really. I’ll usually wake up about half an hour before my first lecture (which is mostly between 8am and 11am), shower, then bike to uni from my flat which takes about 10 minutes. When I get home at around 5ish, my flatmates and I will all sit and have dinner (everyone has a cooking night) and yarn for an hour or two to unwind and catch up. If it’s in the middle of the week, we’ll study or chill out watching movies, otherwise we’ll catch up with mates and have (a few) drinks at whatever party is going on. 



3. What’s the best and worst thing about studying at Canterbury?


Best: Clubs for sure. We have over 100 clubs! EnSoc (Engineering society), OpSoc (Op shopping society), Cuba (for skating/surfing/snowboarding enthusiasts), TuneSoc (a great club to jam or watch others jam some music) are a few of the great opportunities. All have great events for academic, cultural, and sporting pursuits (and parties).


Worst: Potentially the size. Coming from Wellington where you can walk almost anywhere, it’s a bit sad that so many awesome parts of the Christchurch scenery isn’t within walking distance from the Uni, so having a mate with a car is essential.



4. Where on campus do you get the most bang for your buck for a feed?


It would surely be the Wok with its famous $2 (now $2.50 ?) rice. It’s a great little package filled with greasy goodness, and a great alternative to a dusty old packet of chips from the vending machine if you forget lunch. It’s much cheaper to bring something from home though. (Also the hot chips at the nuts and bolts café in the Eng Core are worth a mention, very tasty)



5. If you could give one piece of advice to your first year self, what would it be?


Apart from taking advantage of every home cooked meal while visiting my parents in the holidays, I’d probably tell myself to work smarter, not harder. I would have saved a lot of time and hassle by reaching out for help when I needed it, rather than battling with and then avoiding the harder problems. Other people are happy to help!



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EnSoc “Dynamic Duos” BBQ in March 2019. (Courtesy of the EnSoc Canterbury Facebook page)



Insider: Graduate.


1. Congratulations – you’re officially a University of Canterbury alumnus. Describe your uni experience in a couple of sentences.


Stressful, exciting, educated, challenging and new perspectives.



2. What are you doing now that you’ve graduated? Has your degree helped you in any way?


I studied computer science and I’m now a Software Test Engineer at Aviat Networks. The degree has definitely been a very important starting block, it gives you the basic knowledge and a foot in the door if you don’t have prior industry experience.   



3. Would you recommend Canterbury as a university to study at? Why or why not?


100%!! The culture is so diverse, it’s very hard to not be able to fit in. Also the academic staff are very friendly, professional and want you to do well if you put the effort in.



4. Are you still friends with people from uni?


Yep, the ones that moved up to Wellington as well I catch up with quite regularly, and the others, we either game together or just message each other on social media.   



5. If you could give one piece of advice to your undergrad self, what would it be?


One piece of advice: if you’re stuck on something, get help early. Chances are there’s at least two other people that are either stuck on the same thing or just figured it out – and people are more friendlier than you think, that will help reduce the stress that tends to build up at the last minute.



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University of Canterbury 2018 graduates. (Courtesy of the University of Canterbury Facebook page)



A special thank you to our interviewees:


Fresher is a first-year student studying a Bachelor of Communications and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Art History.


Mid-year is a third-year student studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Maths and Chemistry.


Graduate graduated from the University of Canterbury in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Computer Science.


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