Otago Polytechnic

“Be prepared to be challenged.”

Those are key words of advice from Georgia Baird, an Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Applied Management student who recently returned from a five-month study scholarship in Japan.

Georgia was among a group of four Otago Polytechnic students who received a Prime Minister’s Scholarship to Asia, the quartet attending Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto over its spring semester.

“The experience at Ritsumeikan University was great,” says Georgia, who was joined by fellow Otago Polytechnic students Luke van der Vliet, Jessica Banks and Emily Dixon-Pawson.

“The professors were from all over the world, including Japan, Hungary, Germany and New Zealand. There was also a ‘Beyond Borders Plaza’, which was like an international common room.

“I studied International Relations on the Kinugasa campus, completing papers on International Law, International Organisations, Media and Society, Social Development, Global Environmental Issues, Japanese Culture and Japanese Society.”

Georgia, who is about to complete her third and final year of the Bachelor of Applied Management, says the International Relations programme broadened both her education and general knowledge.

“Most of our study was in an Asian context, too, so I learnt a lot about the Asian market and economy.

“The experience also built on my people skills. I learnt to interact with people from not only Japan but all over the world, as I lived in a dormitory with 200 international students.”

Although Georgia says the cultural differences took some time to getting used, she adapted and grew in confidence.

“I developed a greater degree of independence when travelling by myself. The extra travel I was able to do was definitely a highlight. My parents also visited and we were able to travel all around Japan together.”

Marc Doesburg, Director Global Engagement, says the relationship with Ritsumeikan University is another example of Otago Polytechnic cultivating opportunities for students overseas.

“Such opportunities give learners insights into other cultures, helping them experience cultural diversity and develop cultural competence.

“Through participation in the PMSA programme, the students will have gone some way to achieving global citizenship: the knowledge, skills and capabilities they acquire increase their ability to live, work and learn globally.

“This directly aligns to the goals in the Education New Zealand International Strategy. At a personal level, the students have had ample opportunity to build lifelong friendships and networks.”

Georgia agrees:

“A highlight of the Prime Minister’s scholarship were the friendships I made with people all over the world.

“It was amazing to meet so many people and I feel it enabled me to develop a greater understanding of so many different cultures.”

Another member of the Otago Polytechnic contingent, Luke van der Vliet says meeting new people from all around the world helped give him an insight into different cultures, which in turn helped form new friendships.

“The experience in Japan also helped you mature very fast.

“We had to learn to budget, pay rent, do health insurance, pay bills, cook, as well as adapt to the new environment –  in terms of language and culture for what is acceptable and what is not,” Luke reflects.

“I definitely gained in confidence. I was pushed out of my comfort zone almost every single day.”










Published on 8 Nov 2019

Orderdate: 8 Nov 2019
Expiry: 30 Jun 2020