Alumni Spotlight: Alexander Winkler

Alex is a passionate traveler, working at as a radio and online journalist and project manager with a German public broadcaster. He studied Communications Studies (Journalism) at AUT University in 2011.

Why did you choose this program?

Students from AUT in New Zealand

When I started planning my year abroad, I actually didn't have a clue whether I wanted to just travel or go study. With AUT's Postgraduate Diploma program I just happened to find an appealing course content (journalism) that was imperceptibly more expensive than a regular study abroad – but with a degree!

That + Auckland, and a modern-looking university made it a perfect deal. Because studying doesn't exclude travels after all.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Of course, the organization process is quite bureaucratic. However, it is fairly straightforward and AUT counsellors are very capable, supporting, and offer plenty of help. My German program provider was basically only an intermediary that merely delayed the process.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Studying journalism in a foreign country is probably one of the best ways to get to know country, culture and people. AUT's program is very demanding both on a workload and intellectual level, but also very rewarding with everything I learned and a very caring and supportive staff. But don't be afraid of the workload – it's part of what makes this course such a great experience.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Any average week requires students to write at least two news stories that you have to find on your own, research and do interviews, write up, and publish. Through the year, the tasks get more complex until you will write full-length features and publish a student-edited newspaper on roughly a bi-weekly basis. Alongside that, there are also options for video and radio reporting and more specialization.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

As I had lived abroad before, there weren't many general fears regarding travel abroad. My fears were more concerning my program as language expectations were particularly high for a foreigner. However with adequate scores in my language test (i.e. IELTS), and some other requirements, I was prepared for what was coming.

Everything else that shaped my writing came during the course. And even though I'd probably say I'm still lacking some of the colloquialisms and idiomology, having studied english grammar for all my school life is a knowledge of the language that some native speakers don't bring along.

What was your best experience during your time abroad outside of university?

AUT University offers a broad spectrum of activities outside the regular curriculum, e.g. through the International Student Service Center. One of that is the Noho Marae that is offered once per semester.

The weekend is a unique introduction into the Maori culture but also a great experience with other international students, many of which I still consider friends today.

Learn the Haka or Poi, some traditional waiata (songs) and enjoy a traditional hangi (meal). Don't miss it!