Three students from the University of Waikato will be jetting off to Asia soon under the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA). The programme, funded by the New Zealand government and administered by Education New Zealand, aims to strengthen ties with Asia and improve the New Zealand tertiary system.
Taranjoot Singh, Brittany Oliver, and Regan Burns have each received the scholarship. They will be attending their offshore universities for the second semester of the year. The PMSA covers study fees, accommodation, and living costs. Earlier this year, four other Waikato students received a PMSA.
“The prestige of saying that you received an award from the Prime Minister sounds quite fancy,” says Taranjoot. The PMSA will be the second student exchange for Taranjoot, who self-financed his exchange to the Netherlands through his job at Countdown last year. This time around, the Management Studies student will be studying economics at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Despite having travelled around Europe and Canada, Taranjoot has never been to Asia. “I have grown up in a very westernised manner,” he says. “So I travelled to westernised countries.” He says going to Asia will be a big step for him expanding his horizons as a world traveller. He says he looks forward to going to the “typical tourist locations” in Asia, but more importantly, he looks forward to eating the food. “Asia produces great food and I plan on taking full advantage of this.”
Taranjoot, whose parents are from India, says he is excited to represent New Zealand overseas. He says he doesn’t fit the stereotype of what a New Zealander is, making him the perfect recipient for the scholarship. “The fact that someone like me can represent New Zealand shows just how diverse and progressive this country is,” he says.
“Study in Asia is a scary thought but exciting at the same time,” says Brittany, who is studying a Bachelor of Management Studies, majoring in marketing. She will be attending the National Chengchi University in Taiwan, where she will be studying international relations, economics and Mandarin. Brittany says the PMSA will be a great opportunity for her to connect with other scholars and expand her networks, as well as promote study in New Zealand.
China was Brittany’s first choice, but after speaking to Waikato’s Study Abroad and Exchange, she changed her mind. “When I found out Taiwan wanted to tighten their relationship with New Zealand and encourage visitors, it confirmed my decision that I wanted to go there,” she says. “I saw Taiwan as an untapped market where I could gain valuable experience that would diversify my skills coming back into New Zealand.”
Brittany says she is most excited to “walk in other’s shoes”. “New Zealand is incredible but we are so often disconnected from the world,” she says. “We forget that there are billions of people across seas who live completely different lives to us.” Brittany says expanding her world-view through the programme will benefit her greatly, but it’s not just about her. “This trip isn’t just for me, it’s for the people I’m going to meet along the way and it’s for those who will be better off when I come home because of the stories, wisdom and knowledge that I can share.”
Studying in China has always been on the agenda for Regan. He says the PMSA has given him the financial assistance he needed to make this dream a reality in Shanghai. “Shanghai is one of the biggest cities in the world and as a result, the living expenses are quite high,” he says. “The scholarship will make the exchange a lot more affordable.” Regan will be studying Chinese language and business at Shanghai International Studies University.
Regan is studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international languages and cultures and specialising in Chinese, at the University of Waikato. He says having a “burning passion” for his studies and a knowledge of what he wants to do post-university are key reasons for him receiving the PMSA.
A bit of a foodie, Regan notes the Chinese cuisine as one of the things he’s most excited to experience in China. The trip will also give him a chance to learn more about Chinese culture and meet new people.
Applications for the Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia are now open. The scholarship is given out twice a year.