Make The Most of Your International Student Experience

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience for international students entering tertiary education for the first time. Students fresh out of high school come from all over the globe to New Zealand, expecting to immerse themselves in a new culture, learn new skills, and make lifelong memories. However, many students encounter challenges that hinder their experience. To help you make the most of your time in New Zealand, we’ve identified the top 10 common mistakes these international students make and how to avoid them.

1. Staying Within Their Comfort Zone 

International students often stick to familiar faces, primarily forming friendships with students from their home country or ethnic group. To fully integrate into the academic community and local culture, it’s important to step out of your comfort zone and build connections with diverse groups of people. Take part in the social activities and groups that are offered on campus – you’ll find it’s a great way to meet people and connect. You’ll also feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

2. Inadequate Effort in Learning English

Many international students don’t prioritize improving their English skills, which may negatively impact their academic performance and social interactions. Take advantage of resources like language exchange programsand English language coursesto enhance your English proficiency.

3. Remaining Culturally Distant

Embrace the opportunity to learn about New Zealand’s customs, values, and traditions. Engage with the local community, attend cultural events, and explore the country to gain a deeper understanding of the Kiwi way of life. What can you learn and understand about why Kiwi’s see things the way they do?

4. Overspending

Managing finances can be challenging for students new to handling their own money. Create a budgetand track your expenses to avoid financial strain. Be cautious about using credit cards or borrowing money to fund your lifestyle. A common example is spending money on drinking at pubs and eating out too frequently, which can be a big drain on your wallet. Students need to be careful and strike a fine balance. You still want to go out and socialise but you don’t always need to be drunk to have fun.

5. Being Too Price Conscious

While budgeting is essential, being overly price-conscious can lead to poor choices, especially concerning food and accommodation. Striking a balance between affordability and quality is crucial for maintaining physical and emotional well-being. An important thing to think about is to try and prioritize your physical health and well-being, and your mental health when you consider where it’s worth spending your money.

6. Choosing the Wrong Accommodation

International students often prioritize budget-friendly options and may end up living too far from campus. Consider the cost of transportation, commuting time, and potential impact on academic performance when selecting your accommodation. Explore various housing options to find the best fit for your needs. You can check out local Facebook Groups and Trademe when looking for a place to stay.

7. Unfamiliarity with Local Laws and Regulations

Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations to avoid unnecessary problems. For example, understand the requirements for driving in New Zealand, including license validity and translation, and consider obtaining car insurance even though it’s not mandatory. Sometimes students don’t realize how serious the consequences can be for an infringement. Unfortunately, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge happens too often and can make life very difficult if not end your study plans entirely (not to mention putting yourself and other people’s safety at risk!).

8. Not Standing up for Themselves

International students may hesitate to assert themselves, especially in unfamiliar situations. Develop confidence in expressing your opinions, asking questions, and advocating for your rights.

9. Hesitating to Ask for Assistance

Many students are reluctant to seek help with financial, emotional, or academic issues. Utilize on-campus resources such as counseling services and academic support to address challenges and maintain your well-being.

10. Overemphasizing Academics

Most overseas students are under huge pressure to do well in their studies. This is especially true where the study program is self-funded by the family. So it is natural for students to be laser focused on academic activities. However, a more balanced lifestyle between studying and leisure will be less stressful and likely to result in more effective study time.

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Erik Murthy

Erik Murthy

Licensed Immigration Advisor at ICL Immigration

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