23 January 2019

From gap year to international student

Joanne Lee
Chinese Undergraduate Student

After completing a bachelor's degree in China, I worked in the Sales and Marketing department of a five-star hotel for more than 4 years, which was a good job with good pay and career development.

I decided to leave this comfort zone of where I had stayed for a pretty long time. Why not experience more and do something different while you can? I decided to do something that I may just do once in my life – a working holiday!

Working holiday

During the 15 months of my working holiday (including the 3-month extension), I worked at a pharmaceutical factory, a seafood factory, a kiwifruit packhouse and an FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) factory all around New Zealand.

Working as a seasonal casual worker here was very interesting because I got the chance to make friends with other working holiday people from all around the world – South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan. It was a lot of fun to work with and become friends with them!

Bungy jumping

Why study in New Zealand?

When I first decided to have a working holiday in New Zealand, I thought that it would just be a gap year for me. After that, I would have to to go back to reality.

But I wanted to enhance my knowledge base and skill set in marketing and sales, so why not going back to studying? Why not further my education in New Zealand? So what happened next? I am now an international student in New Zealand, studying a Graduate Diploma of Sales and Marketing at Ara Institute of Canterbury.

Study differences

Studying in New Zealand is very different from studying in China. Tertiary students here have more time studying by themselves and reading the recommended materials after class. In addition, group assignments, presentations, essays and reports, are the main forms of assessment. International students may need to take more time getting into study mode here and allow for time to catch up with the courses at the beginning. Last but not least, the learning support and the student support services are very useful for international students. They provide tutorials, mentoring and study tips for students who need help. Don’t be shy to ask questions and ask for help!

Night sky

To be honest, I am always thankful that I decided to have a gap year and to then become an international student in New Zealand. These unforgettable memories will always be with me and will always remind me of how much I love this country.

Please enjoy the life and seize the days. And remember, the best is yet to come!

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About the contributors
Joanne Lee
Chinese Undergraduate Student

Joanne Lee is from China. She came to New Zealand almost two years ago. Joanne made the big decision to come to New Zealand to experience a brand-new life and pursue further education.