Annika Xu

Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours) student Annika tells us about her first year at university.

Urban Planning student, Annika Xu
Annika Xu

"My passion in life has always involved supporting people and helping our communities. Finding a way to do this as a career was something that led me to study a Bachelor of Urban Planning (Honours) at the University.

"The speakers at Open Day inspired me to apply for this programme. The advice they gave highlighted the essential work of urban planners, and informed important programme-specific information. 

I was drawn to the style of teaching at the University because of the smaller class sizes, meaning I would have more one on one time with the lecturer.

Annika Xu

"The application process was quite straight forward as I met all the required criteria and had studied the necessary courses. The programme structure has both practical and theoretical aspects, which meant I had to have both practical and theoretical knowledge. Graphics and art helped a lot with the physical models and posters we create and having studied English Literature has also been helpful because we write a lot of essays. Studying geography at school is also useful to become familiar with social, economic and political themes and ideas. All these skills are critical to urban planners to prepare them for designing changes for our future cities and environments.

"On Orientation day, there were a lot of nervous people around, but I was definitely excited. I looked forward to being a part of the wider university community and meeting new people with different backgrounds. It was great having the UniGuides to show us around the University and give us insights into the various buildings and facilities. I was lucky to have a guide who was studying urban planning - just listening to their story and advice has encouraged me to become a UniGuide next year. Being able to give back and support new students coming in is something I look forward to as well as offering as much guidance I can.

"There is no typical day for an Urban Planning student, sometimes we are in lectures and other times in the studio. The topics we look at are not always the same, but they are interlinked.

"I learnt to bring my lunch in with me, thankful that we have the use of microwaves and other utilities. When I wasn't in class, I found it helpful that I could go to study areas to research or do my work.

"The facilities available to us here are fantastic and useful for the work we need to complete. 

I have found having the level six studio space invaluable, both to work on sketches and modelling and for sharing ideas with others.

Annika Xu

"We share the area with the second-year students who like to discuss ideas and more about what they are studying. We are also fortunate to have lockers, which means that I don't need to take everything home with me and can focus more on getting work done in the studio.

"I faced a lot of challenges coming to university, both inside and outside of class. Transport was a major learning curve, and I advise leaving home early if you are using public transport. Additionally, the courses and assessments are different here to what I was used to in high school. I studied under the Cambridge structure, and so was not used to having as many assignments on top of exam preparation. With all of this in mind, I have to be good with managing my time.

"I had not had too much experience of the software we use for design and imaging, so I am happy that we have technicians who are there to help. If ever I am stuck or don't know what to do, I can pop down to the level five data hub and ask for advice. Having this service means I can look at my work in different ways and learn how to use different mediums.

"There is a lot I am blessed to have achieved this year, and I am eager for next year's adventure, both as a UniGuide and a second-year student. Many of our courses next year focus on policy and areas like transport - two of my passions.

"Looking ahead, I am considering a career with Auckland Council. The jobs they do and the people and communities they work with interest me and encourage me to do my part for our city.

"Studying to be an urban planner is very meaningful to me and our society, because without urban planners, who will plan for our future?"