A pathway to work success
Getting used to Kiwi food was one of the first challenges Hannah Vu faced when she arrived in New Zealand from Viet Nam.
“I only wanted to eat instant noodles for the first four or five months,” says Hannah, who was 16 when she came to Auckland to study in 2008.
“Everyone at my new school had sandwiches for lunch. Sandwiches weren’t so popular in Viet Nam back then, but I soon got used to them.”
Hannah’s family had relatives in New Zealand, and her parents thought it would be a good study destination because of its high-quality education system, beautiful environment and affordable cost of living.
Hannah says she loved the time she spent at a large secondary school in south Auckland.
My school had only a small group of international students, so I was able to hang out with Kiwi students as well as other international students. I made lots of great friends.
She gained a scholarship to study for a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, where she found the teaching staff friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
“I also liked the style of learning. In Viet Nam, learning is more theoretical and based on memorising information. In New Zealand, learning is about gaining understanding and being able to apply it to different situations,” she says.
“It’s more focused on learning from real-life examples rather than textbooks.”
Even at high school, says Hannah, she studied economics by analysing the financial statements of well-known New Zealand companies rather than reading textbook examples.
Hannah has always been passionate about helping other students, and had plenty of opportunities to develop her leadership skills at Canterbury.
She was an international student ambassador, worked with the alumni foundation and had a role helping first-year students at Canterbury’s halls of residence to settle into university life.
When she wasn’t working or studying, Hannah went running or took zumba fitness classes at the university gym. She also loved walking with her friends in the mountains and beaches around Christchurch.
After graduating in 2015, Hannah continued following her passion for international education by working for the university as its International Business Development Coordinator.
“When I talk to parents, I always encourage them to send their children to high school in New Zealand. It makes it much easier to go on to university, because they will have already made friends and overcome any language or cultural barriers,” she says.
From my own experience, I’m able to tell parents that New Zealand does a great job of preparing students for the future.
“When you study in New Zealand, you don’t just learn what you’re studying for your degree. You gain skills like leadership, teamwork and communication – skills that will help you when you’re in the workplace.”
About the contributors
Linley Boniface is a contract writer for Education New Zealand. She is based in Wellington, her favourite city in New Zealand. A former journalist, Linley spent a year in Montreal, Canada, as a secondary school student.