A Housekeeper-Student in New Zealand

I am an international student working as a part-time housekeeper in New Zealand.It is unfortunately the only job I found, and which I liked, because I feel ‘human’ there.

I clean lobbies, receptions, toilets, clinics, laboratories and theaters. My classmate who learned I am cleaning toilets think it’s unimaginably gross. I really think it is nothing to be ashamed of.

I work in a nice private hospital which is really very clean compared to private hospitals in the Philippines. It’s already clean but they maintain the cleanliness and over-all hygiene by hiring us.

I love working there because we have free toast, butter, jam, milk, tea, sometimes muffins and cookies and coffee during breaks. I also love the people I worked with.

auckland harbour, new zealand, yachts
Auckland. City of Sails.

Starting from the Bottom

When I decided to come to New Zealand, I was prepared for all possibilities. Starting from the bottom is one. A few months into my stay in Auckland and I was still jumping from one casual work to another.

I worked as a kitchen assistant during a two-day Bruce Springstein concert. My job was to take stocks from the freezer and into the hot kitchen, where I also helped frying the chips.

I also worked as a cleaner for a Filipino cleaning company from seven in the morning to four in the afternoon on Saturdays. I use a heavy backpack vacuum cleaner from morning to afternoon.  It was painful on my back and doubly painful when I have my periods.

I worked as a retail assistant for a pop-up store. It was a pleasant work experience working with Kiwis and the Kiwi owner. To save on money I walk back home for thirty minutes.

I worked as a room attendant for a well-known hotel but with very minimal hours that cannot sustain my needs.  Then I got this this job as a cleaner in the hospital and I feel home at least for the time being.

house, new zealand, park
Cornwall Park. Auckland.

I have to do what I am good at

Work opportunities have been elusive for me and yet at school I was noticed for the right reasons. I was getting really very high grades not because I am intelligent but I find the lessons pretty much familiar and easy. I realize then that if work is not being good to me then I might as well just focus my energy on the lessons.

Most of the students do not bother with school at all because after all they came here to earn and not to study. They are actually getting money while I am struggling financially. I feel a little sorry for myself at that because the reality is I also need money, but God instead give me smarts.

Juggling work and school

My housekeeping job is scheduled in the late afternoon to a couple of hours before midnight which is good. As soon as I get home, I am already very exhausted. In the morning, I go to class tired and sleepy. I only pay attention to the most important part of the lesson and doze off. I call this energy conservation.

The lessons are quite easy, the assignments are pretty strict against plagiarism and you have to work for it, other than that it is a walk in the park, besides I can get A+ for 84% grade. I find the standards really hilarious. When I got my grades I was laughing like crazy. But I am really proud having survived the ordeal. Grades are just that – grades.

I actually work hard for it because I have nothing to show for myself. I was hard-up financially, my work is erratic, so I decided that if I am to be worthy as a migrant then I have to focus on something I am good at. I just did my best with the resources that I have.

I manage my time well and spent hours in the library writing my assignment.  I could not study at home because it is crowded. My grades are not a security to get me a job here. But at least, I have done my part. A job well done is its own reward.

greengrass , auckland, cornwall
Green green grass. Unfiltered. Cornwall, Auckland.


Pride and Humility

It is true that a job no matter what it is, if done with integrity is descent and is a source of pride. I pride myself working as a housekeeper and I even take pride with the fact that not everyone can take this job with the same pride as I do.

It is a humbling experience which also makes me reflect not only upon my strength and determination; but it also allows me to think about others who are doing the same physical job as I am, in harsher conditions.

I am a subservient follower

I take directions from my fellow worker who knows better than I do. Sometimes I think that she can be bossy but since she knows what she’s doing, I don’t complain. Besides I don’t want to waste my mind thinking about little things when I can use my mind in my creative pursuits. It’s like working, blindly following, and using only very little of my brain while keeping my mind together to finish the physical task for once, until late night.

My dream is still alive

Sometimes, I come close to quitting out of physical exhaustion. Sometimes, I hide in the toilet to let tears roll out of my frustration. Sometimes, I blame myself for coming to this country without even getting a clearer picture of reality. I just jumped off the water without looking into the pool. It is my fault. But then it is too late. I feel like I have just awoken in my sleep and wondered what I am doing here?

Share me!


  1. | 2nd Mar 15

    How’s your status now pinay?

  2. Pinay Thinks | 3rd Mar 15

    I have an open work visa keen to find a full-time job while still working as a cleaner.

  3. | 3rd Mar 15

    Because I am having second thoughts to go to NZ to study after I read your blog. Is it really hard to find a job related to your course?

    • Pinay Thinks | 14th Mar 15

      Just come you’ll never know you will be lucky. As for my course (business) yes, others with the same background are lucky though. What’s in demand here are registered nurses and civil engineers, chef and trades (welders, carpenters, bricklayers and bakers). Please check the skills shortage list at their website for specifics. As for me, I am planning to shift to baking and pastry.

  4. Monica | 1st Apr 15

    Hi! Before you arrived in NZ, did you pay the tuition fee in full for the whole programme?

  5. charles | 12th Jun 15

    Was able to read all your blogs and it gives me clearer view of the challenges in nz. Is it possible to find a job that pays in hand there? Kindly send me an email.


    • Pinay Thinks | 13th Jul 15

      Sorry for late reply. Yes I heard there are cash on hand jobs with no tax deductions. You will be paid lower than the minimum. It is illegal though.

  6. Noel Adox | 13th Feb 16

    I never realised it but I read most of what you wrote here. Your posts are very engaging & just pregnant with raw emotions. I can’t help but feel what’s in your heart. Overall, you’ve shown bulletproof resilience having made this far. I admire you. Keep writing as for sure this is like therapy for you. Thanks to you though, I now have second thoughts pursuing studies there. It doesn’t help that http://e2nz.org have stories that are somewhat discouraging. Yes I did some research so I came across your blog. My skills & recent experience also don’t fall into the needed skills as I recall (I did graphic design & event sales). My only reason to go is because my youngest brother is there. He studied healthcare in a private provider, now under a work visa & seems to be very content & happily encouraging us to take the next flight to Auckland. I am also needing a change in environment (in SG at the moment). I wonder if things have changed. Me thinks not everyone gets lucky – maybe only a handful. And it seems there are more opportunities for women I suppose. I’m still contemplating, weighing my options. I believe good things are happening to you. God sees your toil & reward is to come very soon 🙂

    • Pinay Thinks | 16th Feb 16

      Thank you Noel. This blog for me is indeed therapeutic. Some are lucky others are not. Some of my classmates took their flights back home for good. My struggle here was difficult compounded with the fact that I have no relatives and close friends (someone you can trust) for social support. I am really tired mentally and emotionally. I admire you for researching first. I did as well but the reality here is far different from the things I read. My friend (who has already left for Manila a few days ago) and I decided that we want to help incoming students by providing them information, hence this blog. I will be writing more as I have plenty of time now at my disposal. I am now in South Island on an interim visa, as my open work visa expired. I am keeping my fingers crossed waiting for a really very good news within this month. Godbless and thanks again for reading my blog.

  7. I Shouldn’t Have Taken the Business Course – Pinay Thinks | 11th Mar 16

    […] I had my one-year open work visa, I was stuck for months in my part-time job. I got frustrated and almost ended up faking my […]

  8. Aiki | 10th May 17

    Another good post from you! I actually just emailed our potential agent a couple of questions before I found your blog and most of them were already answered here. Now, we need to sit on this and think really hard. Thanks again for an eye-opening post! God bless you!

  9. TJ | 4th Jan 18

    Hi There,

    Do you know anybody who would like a job in Christchurch as a housekeeper?

  10. TJ | 4th Jan 18

    Do you know anyone who would like a job in CHCH as a housekeeper?

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