Feedback from Igor
My name is Igor, I am 38 years of age, finished Graduate Diploma in Accounting, level 7, Waikato Institute of Technology, Hamilton.
The idea and KiwiEducation
The idea of moving from Russia to another country came to me in 2014. I was working as a management accountant at a railroad operating company. I was getting tired of coming home late in the evening, seeing family only on weekends and so on. While exploring options where to move, I ended up with a shortlist of UK, Australia and New Zealand. The UK was too expensive, Australia is well known for scary spiders and snakes, New Zealand seemed like the best choice in terms of tuition fees, safety, and quality of life. One of my wife’s friends moved to Auckland a couple of years ago and she highly recommended KiwiEducation and Dennis as immigration agents. Before contacting Dennis, I had a couple of unpleasant experiences with other agencies. They were treating clients as a source of money and nothing else. To be fair, I was expecting something similar from KiwiEducation and, boy, did they prove me wrong. Dennis and his teammates never sleep, ever. Any crazy question from us was answered in a matter of minutes. Dennis provided a list of possible programmes in accounting and suggested to choose Hamilton to study. It is a 4th largest city in New Zealand, 130 km from Auckland and it is about 20% cheaper to live here.
After choosing WINTEC, we started to prepare the documents. As the main applicant, I was applying online, my wife and my daughter applied for a visitor’s visa in a paper form after my student visa application was approved. Unfortunately, Immigration NZ requested additional medical information from my wife, the visa was not granted on time, and so I flew to NZ alone, hoping that my girls will join me soon.
In my experience, it was cheaper to fly from Moscow to Auckland by Emirates with a layover in Dubai, and for the return flights, we went with Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha. Emirates charges 55,000 rub on average, Qatar asks for 33,000 rub for one person. These airlines are the best in the world, the quality of on board service is impressive, and the flights are enjoyable and easy to handle, even with a 2-year-old kid.
One of the KiwiEducation guys met me at the Auckland airport and we drove to Hamilton. I booked a room online through Airbnb for 3 weeks. The renting process is different here.You fill an application for a house, the property agency runs police and credit checks, arranges a viewing of a place with 6-8 candidates and then chooses one. You need to provide references as well. Naturally, I didn’t have anyone as a reference. I searched for the house to rent for about 2 weeks and got one just by luck. I visited an agency, one of the property managers was there and had a house to rent. He offered me to drive there and take a look. While driving we had a nice talk and I believe it was a kind of an interview for me. We checked out the house and on the way back he offered me to rent it without the checks and references what so ever.
Study programmes in New Zealand universities differ from Russian universities. The main focus is on self-preparation and research. Get prepared for a lot of typing, most of the assignments are to prepare an essay or a report. You are also get involved in group projects and you have to be careful whom you choose to be in your group. China and India are the main sources of students in New Zealand. The level of English proficiency varies significantly.
The study process aims to provide you with so-called “soft skills”, like networking, leadership, time management and so on. From my group project experience, it is easier and more beneficial to assume a leadership position in a group and supervise the assignment and how your teammates are doing their parts.
It is expected of you to ask questions during the lectures and workshops. It is absolutely natural to engage tutors in conversation. As a bonus, it gives you additional exposure and attention.
It is not easy to get a job for an international student with no NZ experience. Your visa limits you for 20 hours a week only. I found my first casual job through Student Job Search, they offer a lot of opportunities, paid and voluntary ones. Kiwi’s value helping people for free. It will be way easier to get a paid job after your studies are finished and you have a voluntary experience under your belt.
If you are still thinking whether New Zealand is a right choice for you, think no longer. All of the expectations were met and even more than that. The feeling of safety that you have here is priceless. I was living for two weeks in a house with the back door open and I was not aware of that. We occasionally forgot to lock the car doors. It might seem as silly examples, but you can drink water from the tap and not worry that you’ll get sick. The contents of ingredients on a stick of butter lists “butter” and nothing more. Kiwi’s have a favourite phrase, they use it all the time. “No worries” and this is what New Zealand is all about.
- Money. In my experience, 50,000$ to spend for a year for a family of 3 is enough. Money goes fast here, if you can, leave a stash for a rainy day at home, just in case.
- Claim the miles for your flights from the airlines. Online checking saves a lot of time, you don’t have to wait in line for the flight registration and you can choose seats as well.
- Buy a car as soon as possible.Kiwi’s live in private houses, the cities and suburbs occupy large areas, the stores are not reachable by foot. If you are going to NZ with kids, it is best to get a 7-seater, Toyotas Ipsum is a good choice, aim for the price at around 5,000$. Don’t be scared with the odometer, 150,000 km is nothing here, cars serve for a really long time.
- Get your domestic drivers licence translated at home, you can use it for 12 months here. You need to choose an accredited translation firm, the list can be found on the NZTA website. We were stopped by the police about 3 times total with one alcohol check. The police never asked for the driving license.
- When you are applying for house to rent, always mention that you have a family (even if you are alone). Kiwi’s assume that you are a responsible person, you will not throw parties and their property is in safe hands.
- English. If you are worried about your level of English, start watching Friends. The hardest way possible, English audio and no subtitles. There are about 160 episodes in 10 seasons. You have to watch it 3 times. The first time you watch it, it will be hard and painful. The second time, you will understand all of the jokes. At the end of the 3 time you will have a nice New York accent.