Study in New Zealand
10 good & bad points about studying in NZ
Understanding the disadvantages involved with living in New Zealand is important for all those who choose to study there. You are likely to have a more enjoyable experience if you enter with realistic expectations and with some plans for handling challenges.
Gaining awareness is especially vital for students who have never lived away from big cities. Many of New Zealand's weaknesses relate to its small population and geographic isolation.
New Zealand has a shallow job market that provides only limited employment opportunities for students and graduates. Even when employment conditions are sound, jobs can be hard to find - particularly if you are seeking a specific line of work.
The lack of depth in the job market reflects New Zealand's small population and distance from larger markets. Many out-of-work or under-employed New Zealanders travel to Australia in search of opportunity. Australia and New Zealand citizens can freely travel between countries to visit, live and work. There are more than half a million New Zealanders in Australia at any given time.
However, there are certain career areas with labour shortages and the government actively seeks skilled workers from overseas to fill gaps. Immigration New Zealand maintains long-term and immediate skill shortage lists.
Securing work before you travel to New Zealand is a way of avoiding the risk of lengthy unwanted unemployment. Foreign citizens often accept relatively junior positions to gain experience working in New Zealand.
An upside to the labour market is that life-work balance is part of the New Zealand culture. As a graduate in a full-time job, you may be required to work only around 35 hours work per week. Working arrangements are generally flexible.
New Zealand also has a high cost of living. Travellers generally find that, after converting their currency, they have less spending power in New Zealand. This applies to goods and services as well as housing. A weak job market also means that New Zealand salaries are low compared to many other developed countries.
The main strategy for coping with a high cost of living is to avoid a consumption orientated, materialistic lifestyle. Many of those who choose to live in New Zealand permanently do so for reasons such as the outdoor lifestyle and quality of the education system. Money is seldom a lure. As a student, you need to budget for higher living costs for the duration of your trip.
New Zealand has limited public transport available. There are few commuter trains and it lacks extensive bus networks. Only the most populous areas provide public transport with high frequency runs.
New Zealanders rely heavily on private vehicles for getting around. Students generally do likewise or base themselves within walking or bike-riding distance of learning centres.
New Zealand's climate is more comparable to Britain's than Australia's. Cool winters give way to mild summers. Bouts of heavy rain and/or wind are also frequent depending on which part of the country you are in.
Winter daily maximum temperatures average between ten and fifteen degrees Celsius in the North Island, five and ten degrees in the South Island. Summer daily temperatures average around the mid-twenties over most of the country.
The message for students is to make the most of the milder months and be prepared for cool winters. With its large mountain ranges, New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for skiing.
New Zealand's small population and distinct culture can make it difficult to engage with the local community. Many international students come away from a year's study in New Zealand without having had much social interaction beyond academic staff and fellow students.
To get more out of your international study experience, it may be worthwhile choosing activities that involve the broader community. English language proficiency and some education about the local culture can help with building a life outside the campus.