30 November 2016

My Work and Study Experience in New Zealand | Study With New Zealand

Maria Cyrene Sto. Domingo
Filipino College Student

Maria, from the Philippines, shares her New Zealand study abroad journey with us. From her arrival in New Zealand, through her search for jobs, to her travels and adventures in nature.

Arriving in New Zealand

A phone call that I’ve been expecting all week long suddenly comes. There’s a long conversation with my immigration officer asking me heaps of things about my study in New Zealand, making me feel hot and sweaty. Where, buts and what ifs spring to mind but finally, the burden of waiting for my travel itinerary is all done.

I’m on a detour from my life in a laboratory to study in New Zealand. Though I’m focused on setting up my life in New Zealand, the fear of the unknown still worries me. These days, where change is a part of my life, my friends are my only constant.

As I share my arrival in New Zealand with you , I want you to imagine yourself inside a box. Within, darkness starts to eat you and you don’t know when it will open up. The waiting throws you into a world of loneliness and this is what I actually felt like during my first month here in Auckland.

I listened, followed and was guided by my friends who came here first. From the processing of documents and settling in, I started to get to know people and build connections. Flowers bloom and so did I. I was like a sponge that absorbed information that I needed to grasp for survival.

There are so many big differences – I had my first bus ride using an AT Hop card while GPS helped me on short journeys. As bank accounts, IRD forms and various cards piled up on my desk the responsibility of taking good care of myself started to sink in.

Finding part-time work

Pressure built up in my part-time job hunting but it pushed me and I learnt to be patient. Long walks under the heat of the sun, consultations with my friends and never-ending job applications continued. The need for me to sustain myself and find a job was unfortunately not granted as quickly as I expected.

Finally, I found independence with my first part-time job as a healthcare assistant. Even though I knew that the job was miles away from the job I had before, I warmly accepted my new role, to care for the elderly. In my white uniform as a nurse, my pride emerged for my co-caregivers.

Respect for them builds within me, the value of being employed and earning a living in a righteous way is important. At the end of the day, even if your job is not that highly profitable it can be immensely rewarding.

I will cherish the memories of the old people that I care for. Accepting life and death is one of the precious things that I have learned and will always treasure.

Strawberry picking

One day, my friends and I decided to go and work strawberry picking. I knew it would be full of fun after the first glance of strawberries and especially the farm. At last, my childhood wish would be granted, I was like a kid bursting with happiness. My euphoria though was replaced by my extreme body pain.

Back pains killed me and the only thing that I could do to help was to lie flat on the floor. I nearly quit but a voice made me stay on the farm while still having my other job to return to.

Having the gift of company and friends during this time made me strong. The obligations of sending money back to my family and preparing for the upcoming school days while working was what I faced every day. All of it, I entrusted to God.

Travel and adventure

Fortunately, there is also time for travel and adventure - long drives to Muriwai beach, the Coromandel, Mission Bay, Snells Beach fed my exhausted eyes and uplifted my very soul. Adventures in nature, hiking and swimming have all been first-time events for me and my friends.

A once in a lifetime experience was having my first ever snow experience with my close friends - I was mesmerized. Followed by, sitting around in a warm fire and strolling on a farm full of sheep and cows where we can actually take photos close-up is a triple check on my bucket list.


My international student experience journey has taken me in search of jobs along with the struggles of adapting to everything and everybody. All of this has made me more determined.

As I am writing this piece, I am actually thinking back to all the things that I have done which I hope will serve as motivation for future students planning to study, work and live in New Zealand.

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About the contributors
Maria Cyrene Sto. Domingo
Filipino College Student

Maria, is from the city of smiles, Naga City, in the Philippines, and is studying Level 7, Healthcare Management at EDENZ Colleges in Auckland. She chose to study in New Zealand “because I see this country as the best place to learn, innovate and develop my talents in a diverse environment.”