An international student shares her NZ experience
I came to New Zealand about 5 years ago, with my brother Aaditya. My mother came ahead of us in 2010, and got a job here as a nurse. I was in school when I arrived here and did year 13 from Te Kuiti High School. I was quite excited and bit nervous for a new start in a new country, however, I made wonderful friends there, but I did get a cultural shock in the beginning, as in India we never call our teachers by their name, but here we do. Initially I thought how disrespectful is that, but later on I realised that if we don’t call them by their name here in NZ, it’s considered to be rude, hence I realised that ways of respecting are different here, that doesn’t necessarily mean that students don’t respect their teachers. After my school, I had to wait another one year before I could apply for a student loan, so I waited patiently.
After that, I enrolled in a Bachelor’s of Social Work programme in Hamilton, and I’m currently in the last semester of my studies. I love my course, and my passion lies in working with kids. Hopefully, I will find something interesting at the end of my degree.
My journey as a student was a mixed one, not so difficult and not so easy. I will explain the two. It wasn’t so difficult because of my mother, as she did half of the struggle for us. We got out resident visa after she got hers, she looked after us, hence things became a bit easier, but if I would have come own my own, things would have been much difficult. However, it was not so easy because I had to face some challenges such as, I couldn’t continue my studies straight after, as I had to wait for a while, before I could apply for a student loan or allowance. In a tertiary institute, once my essay wasn’t checked, because the teacher assumed that because English is my second language, the essay won’t be good enough, and I might not pass it. However, I challenged that, because how can someone judge something without checking it. Simple as that, assuming is not good, and I not only passed that essay but with good marks, but that happened because of a supportive, kind and non-judgemental kiwi tutor who came forward to take stand for students like me.
I challenge every such thought which can be a bit discriminatory and I always believe that for us Migrants ‟English is not our second language but an additional language”.
Settling here as migrant was definitely a bit difficult for first couple of years, because I felt lonely. Even though I had my mother here, I kept missing my extended family, friends, Indian food, culture, festivals and neighbourhood.
However, there were few things about New Zealand that stole my heart and made life very happy such as its beauty, gender equality, human rights, simple things like people following traffic rules, and respecting each other’s culture. I found New Zealand’s people friendly and kind. I am thankful that they accepted us like their own people.
My life became even more happier, when I got married to my husband Raj, last year in 2015.
Now, apart from my studies, I love singing, and it’s my part-time hobby. I am soon going to take my hobby to a further level. I am quite excited about it. Wish me luck!
My advice to my fellow migrant students reading this article is that always have confidence within your-self, as it can be a power against all the odds. I gain my confidence through meditation, and yoga. It keeps me away from stress, and helps me relax, but you might have a different way, so go for it. Always remember that each one of you are special, and can achieve whatever you want in life but it takes patience, courage, and hard work to do that.
My request as a common student to New Zealand government and policy makers is that could you kindly help migrant students to get jobs here, which match their qualifications that they have gained from their home country, as many of my friends have degrees in engineering, medicine, teaching and much more, but because their studies here hold no or minimal value, they have to change their fields, re-do the entire course or work for a low income job. I’m sure we all, will be very glad if something happens regarding that.
- Ashtha Machra
International students have gathered a lot of attention recently with deportation, cheating and under-employment being the main issues. This is our attempt to present a first-hand account of what such students go through when they are here.