Making friends in New Zealand
“The first month was hard, but I challenged myself to be more open,” says Thanh Ha, an international student in New Zealand.
Thanh Ha has vivid memories of eating breakfast on the back of her Dad’s motorbike on the way to school back home in Viet Nam.
From the age of five, I used to get up to study at 5am and keep studying till 10pm. My social circle was very narrow and I didn’t have many friends,” says Ha.
All that changed in 2013, when Ha arrived in New Zealand as an international student.
“The first month was hard, but I challenged myself to be more open,” she says.
“At orientation, I met lots of new people and they said, ‘Hey, do you want to hang out?’ I lived in a hostel when I first arrived so I met girls from Laos, Italy, Chile – many different countries. I pushed myself to get to know more about them and their cultures.
Now I have lots of friends.
Ha, 20, has just finished studying for a Bachelor of Commerce and Human Resources Management at Victoria University of Wellington, where she has been working part-time as a receptionist in the international department.
“I’m the first point of contact for international students. I’m really passionate about helping them with whatever they need,” she says.
Ha found the New Zealand way of learning very different to the style of education back home.
“In Vietnam, you’re not allowed to say anything until your teacher has finished talking. In New Zealand, your teachers look at you and ask if you have something you’d like to say,” says Ha.
“It’s hard to get used to at first, but I like it because it encourages you to talk to people and express your opinions.”
Ha says she loves Wellington and its relaxed pace of life. In her free time she hikes, goes to the gym and plays tennis with a big group of Vietnamese friends.
She hopes to stay on in New Zealand to work and continue exploring the country. Ha has already been to Mt Ruapehu, the highest mountain in New Zealand’s North Island, where she saw snow for the first time.
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.