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Semester Review: Academic Challenges in an Awesome Country

By Anne Dyrehauge, DMJX

New Zealand is without doubt the most beautiful country I have ever been to. What I bring back with me, however, is much more than a box filled with postcard-worthy pictures.

I came to the University of Canterbury as a part of the Inclusive Journalism Initiative (IJI), an EU-Scholarship with a fairly large (and very necessary) amount of money as well as a defined schedule, which meant that my two courses were predetermined.

The first course was called ‘COMS 401: A Media Research Project’ and involved researching and writing our own journal article. The process gave me a great understanding and insight into the academic world – something I had not been provided with at the (very practical) Danish School of Media and Journalism. This will without doubt help me to find and handle academic stories in the future. The level of teaching suited me well, and it was really nice to spend a whole semester immersing myself in a subject of my own choice.

Our second course ‘COMS 422: Communication Ethics’ was more philosophical and comprised of a lot of class discussions. We had to hand in two case studies, do a presentation, and write a larger final assignment by the end of the semester. The professor, Donald Matheson, was really engaged and helpful. The course – with its focus on ethics and morality in journalism and media – was extremely suitable and interesting after having spent one and a half years as an intern at the Danish national television station TV2. We were encouraged to reflect and use our own ethical experiences from the real world in class.

Roommate road trip to Abel Tasman National Park. From right: Kristian Stanley Halse - Denmark, Anne Dyrehauge – Denmark, Lovisa Limseth – Sweden and Max Sergeyev – USA.

Roommate road trip to Abel Tasman National Park. From right: Kristian Stanley Halse – Denmark, Anne Dyrehauge – Denmark, Lovisa Limseth – Sweden and Max Sergeyev – USA.

As an IJI-student at University of Canterbury in Christchurch you become part of an honours class where everyone (except you) has completed their bachelors degree. In practical terms this means that instead of sitting in big lecture halls with a hundred other undergrad students, you get a classroom with about 14 other scholars. I loved the close-knit feeling of the class since it a) was way easier to remember all the names, and b) we had more one-to-one time with the professors. It also meant that almost all the other students were local. The semester kick-off was therefore not as party-filled as it would have been – had I started as an undergrad – but all my co-students in class were really sweet and welcoming and they made a whole lot of great cake and persuaded me to become a rugby fan. Being an honours student also means that the demands are higher – so don’t pick the IJI-program if you are looking for a vacation. If you on the other hand want to learn from the best, then go for it!

The stay in New Zealand has given me more than I could possible hope for. Kiwis are the friendliest people in the world, they have the most beautiful nature, and you won’t receive a better education and introduction into the academic world than at the University of Canterbury!

Some good advise for the trip down under:

  • Even though it might seem a bit expensive I will recommend people to accept a room through the university since downtown Christchurch is still very affected by the earthquake in 2011. I stayed at Ilam Apartments and it was spacious, nice, easy, and close to everything I needed.
  • Get out of the city in the weekends and explore! New Zealand is incredibly beautiful. A good idea is to sign up for the newsletter at the website grabone.co.nz – each day they have great offers on everything: from cheap pizzas to great deals on skydives.
  • Halfway through the semester you have a three-week break – perfect for a campervan trip around the South Island or a trip to one of the Pacific Islands. Tonga is cheap and great!

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Anne Dyrehauge has finished her BA in Journalism from Danish School of Media and Journalism and works at the Danish TV 2 Web

Kristian Stanley Halse has finished his BA in Journalism from Danish School of Media and Journalism and works at the Danish DR3 Radio.

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