JOSIAH TAVITA TUALAMALI'I, 20 is in his second year of a five-year double degree studying Law and Arts, majoring in History and Political Science.
I got into this course because I saw getting a degree at the University of Canturbury to be a way I could be able to better support my Pasifika community and young people in Christchurch. Initially I wanted to be a lawyer, but now I see this degree as being much more than that and actually giving me the ability to do lots of different things.
When you study in school there are far fewer options, but at uni, the options seem endless. Studying law in the first year is a bit like this, as you only have to do two compulsory papers (basically what you'd call subjects in NCEA) so you are able to try lots of other things as well. I picked up an English paper on writing essays, History since 1945, Te Reo, Political Science in New Zealand and Global Politics. Now in my second year I am learning about the buying and selling of land, how law is made in New Zealand and what's going on when we buy, sell and make agreements with people.
The best thing about studying law is that it teaches you skills which are flexible and open up lots of opportunities. Just because you have studied it, doesn't mean you have to become a lawyer. You could be the Prime Minister, work with the Police, in finance, in journalism, health and safety, teaching or social work.
Law may seem very competitive but that doesn't mean that we all hate each other; we actually are a really tight group on campus. We have study groups and get-togethers to help us get through, because going to uni isn't just about studying, it is also about making friends, learning how to survive on two-minute noodles, flatting, meeting the world, working out who you are and what you are going to do.
At UC there is lots of support for new students. One of the key teams that have supported my study is the Pacific Development Team. They provide academic support and run events like sports tournaments, quizzes and concerts to make the campus feel like a safe, comfortable place for Pacific students.
You would love this course if you like being able to reason. This is where you can find similarities and differences in situations and work out how the law applies as a result. This skill is great outside of a legal career, as problem-solving is something almost all jobs require.
In five years I will have finished my degrees, but I'm still trying to work out the next stage. You don't need to have a clear plan, although if you do, that's great. There are many opportunities that can come up if you keep your eyes open. There is so much out there for you, so don't worry, just taking the first step is good.
UC has entrance scholarships for NCEA Merits and Excellences in level two and three that you don't need to apply for. For more info check out the UC website.
A typical day at UC includes...
Attending a couple of classes, where you listen to the lecturer (just a fancy name for a teacher, really) talk about a particular subject. Then you have to go away and read some more information or look at some examples. This is really important as it builds on your knowledge and helps set you up to know what's going on and be prepared for class and all your work.