The opportunity to study abroad should be one of the most pivotal and profound experiences in the life of an international student. On arrival in New Zealand, the student will have huge expectations about the coming years and no doubt a sense of trepidation.
However, due to mistakes and wrong choices made during their time in New Zealand, few international students make full use of this opportunity. They will return to their homelands with a ‘glass half empty’.
To help international students make the most of their study time in New Zealand, we have identified 10 primary mistakes they tend to make, especially in the initial settling in period. We hope that highlighting these mistakes will assist students to avoid the identified pitfalls and make their New Zealand experience a rich tapestry of lifelong memories.
The Top 10 mistakes can be summarized as follows:-
- Staying in their comfort zone
- Not enough effort to learn and speak English
- They remain culturally distant
- Too price conscious
- Wrong accommodation in the wrong place
- No familiarity with local laws and regulations
- Do not stand up for themselves
- Do not ask for assistance
- Too studious
- Staying In Their Comfort Zone
Overseas students tend to be very insular and seek to constantly remain in their comfort zone. This is evidenced primarily in their tendency to form friendships with other students from their homeland and/or ethnic groups. This insularity inhibits the student’s ability to fully integrate into their academic community and the community at large.
- Not Enough Effort To Learn English
There is a general reluctance to learn and speak English amongst international students. Take the trouble to listen in on a group of overseas students and you will invariably hear a foreign language dominating the conversation. Aside from preventing the visiting students from learning a valuable second or third language, there is a negative impact on their academic work.
In addition, when locals hear conversations going on in foreign languages there is a tendency towards alienation and quite often results in negative situations.
- Overseas Students Remain Culturally Distant
International students shy away from learning about local customs , values and traditions and often miss the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich cultural experience of the Kiwi ‘melting pot’ and the Kiwi way of life. Traveling and discovery is usually left to the end of their New Zealand stay. By then, they will have missed out on learning about the real New Zealand and will return home with a touristy vision of it.
Students arriving in New Zealand overspend and get themselves into financial trouble. Most students do not know how to manage money. Until they arrive in New Zealand, financial matters are usually handled by the parents.
On arrival, they are confronted not only by the lack of financial skills but also the sudden independence to spend as they like. This problem is compounded if they manage to get their hands on a credit card or other credit facility.
Another reason for overspending is the disparity in foreign exchange rates between their home currency and the Dollar. On arrival, students are not acclimatized to the disparity and the need to budget wisely has not kicked in. Reality dawns when they receive their first allowance from home and it converts into much less than what they have been spending.
- Too Price Conscious
Confronted with the need for better money management, students will often swing to the other extreme and become too price conscious. This results in them calculating every expenditure and often making wrong choices, particularly in relation to food and accommodation. The situation can not only affect physical health but also emotional and psychological well being.
- Wrong Accommodation In The Wrong Place
Usually for budget reasons, foreign students having to live off-campus tend to live too far away. In doing so,they often overlook the problems that come with long daily commutes and the cost of transport. The distance and costs combined lead to many classes being missed and a negative impact on academic work.
The distance from campus also makes it difficult for students to participate in on-campus activities further alienating and isolating them.
- No Familiarity With Local Laws And Regulations
International students are generally ignorant of local laws and regulations and will often find themselves in trouble where it could easily have been avoided with a little research. A good example is buying a car.
Many overseas students think that their driving licenses from their home country entitles them to drive in New Zealand. However, this is only true for stay of less than 12 months. An exit and re-entry is needed for another 12 month cycle. Also overlooked is the requirement to have a translation of their license if it is not in English.
As it is not compulsory to have motor insurance in New Zealand, overseas students tend to avoid taking up any insurance to save costs. This can lead to massive financial and other problems if they are involved in an accident and if it is their fault.
- Do Not Stand up For Themselves
International students tend not to stand up for themselves, preferring to keep their heads down and go with the flow. This is particularly true where students originate from countries where questioning of authority is frowned upon.
Given all the other pressures that the students are under, there is a natural inclination to give in to peer pressure. This is particularly true in group situations (new friends) where participants are still ‘strangers’ to each other and roles are still being sorted out.
- Do Not Ask For Assistance
They have a reluctance to ask for assistance, particularly in relation to financial and emotional matters. Most overseas students in New Zealand come from Asian countries. In these regions, problems are usually contained and resolved within family units. In New Zealand, students are on their own with a very limited support system. Overseas students tend to contain problems within themselves and allow to fester.
The problem is compounded when students stop confiding in their parents and family members as they do not want to be a burden from a distance. This situation results in high levels of stress for the students and is generally reflected in poor academic results and health and psychological issues.
- Too Studious
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.