Coming to New Zealand was a major life-changing decision for me. While it remains to be seen if this is a good or bad decision. The life lessons I learned in my journey here is invaluable.
If I can turn back time will I still come here?
Yes, of course. But I will be more prepared – with a sharpened axe, so sharp that even the hardest tree I can chop.
No, I am not a logger.
I am talking about the things that I took for granted because it looked to me as just, nothing, or insignificant, but in the end, had a negative and long-term impact on my opportunity as a migrant.
1. Deciding on my course
Never in my life did I even imagine taking a business course. Although I want to put up my own business, I never thought about studying one.
When I started studying Diploma in Business Level 7 here, I came to know that my classmates have engineering degrees, psychology degrees, business-related degrees, nursing degrees and hotel and restaurant management degrees. When I asked them their background, the nurses worked as call center agents, the engineers in administration work and so with the rest.
I reckon that the very reason we are studying under the broader field of business is to establish a logical pathway. A logical pathway, means that my recent experience must be relevant to the course I will study. It is also important because it will show that I have the interest, aptitude, and the necessary experience and education to take the relevant course in New Zealand. My recent experience was in human resource and administration in a mental facility.
The funny thing is, almost everything can be covered under business. If you check the classes you will see that business courses have the most number of students with the most number of sections.
I met this young guy, with a license in a medical field and is now studying Diploma in Information Technology Level 7. When I asked him how he did it. He said that he was able to prove in his application and the interview that he has a growing interest in information technology as well as an aptitude for it.
I reckoned that there are always exemptions to the rule and besides IT is an in-demand skill right now.
2. Skills Assessment
I did a background check on the business course and the relevant employment opportunities against the New Zealand immediate skills shortage, or long-term skills shortage and essential skills list.
When I did my research, I put my confidence that there was a number of business-related skills on the essential skills list that I was qualified and had adequate experience. I have always believed that I am highly skilled and in fact, well-rounded, but that did not help me find a job. What I did not know is that I will be competing with fellow migrants as well as New Zealanders.
I should have known this beforehand.
If I can start over again, I would probably choose a hotel and restaurant management, culinary, early childhood education or healthcare. If I do this, I would need a previous experience as well as training on these areas to prove a logical pathway. I am willing to do that and delay my entry to New Zealand. But it’s too late I am here.
3. Choosing a school
I did not have a choice actually. Well, actually I had, but I did not bother at that time.
What I didn’t know is that there are a number of universities and private training establishments (PTE) which I could have googled and assessed rather than just enrolling to a PTE that is available. I had an idea however that the PTE should be certified by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) to ensure that the quality of education provided by the private training establishments (PTE) are nationally and internationally robust. The PTE must also be a signatory to the NZ Ministry of Education Code of Practice. Since I knew that the intended school passes these criteria I just left it at that. I did not also check the background of the school which I should have.
I did not know any better and only found out lately that some schools require their students to go on an internship which is really good because in this way you already have something to show your prospective employer that you have a New Zealand experience. I’d seen some Filipinos who goes on an internship and it is good for the cv and opens up a network of more job opportunities.
Some schools just don’t bother at all in this. It is disappointing.
5. Job Placements
I knew that most schools offer these services to their students. But even if the Career Counselors want to help you find a job, if the competition is so high, and there are a few jobs vis a vis the number of applicants (thousands of international students vying for one job), they still can’t help.
I met a Filipina and her Kiwi husband. They were both helping Filipinos who were victims of trafficking especially in the dairy industry. She asked me why I moved to Christchurch, I told her about the challenges of finding a job in Auckland and that my one-year open work visa is expiring. They were aghast. They told me I am not supposed to be even struggling here. It should have been my school who helped me find a job. Our conversation then moved to scrupulous marketing agents, the dairy farmer’s flight, and some Filipino agents and recruiters who ripped their fellow Filipinos off thousands of dollars.
6. Money Matters
I learned that the Fund Transfer Scheme (FTS) is just enough to make ends meet. I also learned that some students who were not required an FTScome here with very little pocket money and rely on their ability to get a job. Most often student takes about two months or longer to find a job. Other students with FTS do not even touch them, instead, they send it back to the Philippines where they borrowed from so that they only rely on their part-time job, if there is any.
Living in New Zealand is very expensive. The rental for a bed space, which is already the cheapest type of accommodation, can take up a huge chunk of your weekly expenses. Everything here is paid per week. Food is also very expensive. So is the public transportation cost. I met and talked with tourists coming from different parts of the world at the store I worked. They grumble at how expensive the food and everything was, to think that they even come from highly-developed countries with strong currencies.
7. Choose your city
If I had a choice too, I may not have chosen Auckland and went somewhere. I did not have a really good experience in the city. It is beautiful but I am a rural lass so it felt crowded to me.
8. Health Requirements
I was lucky to have taken the advice of my agent because I did my full medical exam in the Philippines. It is cost-effective and practical to know about your health condition before coming to New Zealand.
One of my friends had a very serious medical problem. A couple of months after arrival, his symptoms were showing he could no longer hide it. His doctor was surprised at how he got here with his condition. To his inconvenience, he was required to secure previous medical assessments from the Philippines by her doctor. The other person I know, who only showed a chest x-ray for visa application took a very long time processing his open-work visa because of his health condition. Instead of saving, he spent more than necessary.
9. Studying for your Interview
I heard that some students were no longer required an interview. Me, I prepared for it by reviewing the photocopy of documents that was with me. When the immigration officer called me, one of the questions she asked me was, “How many subjects or papers will you be taking in the course?” At this point I froze because I forgot, good thing is, I had the school’s brochure and the rest of the documents with me within reach. The other questions were: “What is the source of your financial fund? How is the course related to your latest experience or skills. What is your career plan?”
10. Value-for-money Flight
When my application was approved in principle, they no longer required me an FTS. I only had one week to prepare and buy a ticket. I ended up buying an expensive fare. Worst, I did not pay for my meals and starved on the plane.
I arrived in Auckland very hungry.
Note: This is not an advise. Please see disclaimer.