As a masters student, Arielle particularly enjoys the freedom of choosing areas of study related to her cultural interests.
"My masters journey began quite suddenly as I applied very last minute and received confirmation shortly before classes were to start. Having just completed my Bachelor of Architectural Studies, I felt that three years wasn't enough and thanks to the quick actions of all staff involved, I was able to make a swift transition from my bachelors to a postgraduate programme.
In architecture, it's essential to complete your masters, and now with one year done, I have no regrets knowing I made the right decision.
"Masters work is very independent, which I was prepared for but also a little nervous about. Sometimes at university, students can be quite competitive, but as recent graduates, the environment as a masters student is a lot more collaborative and co-operative.
"I took a paper on Pacific architecture, which looks at incorporating cultural practices and traditions into our work. A key lesson I learned from this course was that we don't always have to think about things architecturally. I had fascinating discussions with historians and got to look at historical knowledge as a basis for my research. It was also intriguing to see that as a Pacific student in this class, my experiences were insightful to other students. Getting to talk about my culture, and present a project on it, was genuinely fulfilling.
"Working independently has provided me with a lot of new challenges, especially when it comes to planning my day. I always write up a list of things I need to do and prioritise. It's essential to me to do this as I like to complete everything before 5pm and keep stress to a minimum.
"One thing which I loved about postgraduate study is having my own desk and area. It's great having a bay with my friends as it allows us to work together more frequently, hang our work and share ideas. It also means I get to leave my work here and not worry about taking too much home with me.
"A postgraduate mindset is very different to an undergraduate mindset. At an undergraduate level, you are taught within very strict guidelines that you need to stick to, but in postgraduate, you have a lot more freedom to study what you are passionate about. I was lucky enough to explore more into my Pacific identity through my work, alongside my friends.
"Tuākana is a programme I have been thankful for and have been active in this year. My involvement in the programme allows me to give back to new students, making space for them within the studio bay, mentoring them and providing them with an opportunity to seek advice.
Having completed my bachelor degree, I know how it is to at times struggle with the work. Thanks to Tuākana giving me that space to be myself, I was able to overcome some of those struggles.
"Our lecturer, Bill McKay, encouraged us with some words of wisdom. He gave sage advice on thesis writing and said that as world changers and leaders, we are going to help influence the world.
"I am really excited about working on my thesis next year, which is likely to be on Pacific themes in mental health. I know it will be a sensitive topic to undertake, but I am looking forward to researching a subject for which I am so passionate.
"Mental health to me is about building people up and not building walls around them. Next year is about me breaking out of my comfort zone, and I can't wait to take it on!"