Just like many other students, I was unable to return to New Zealand at the start of 2020 due to border closures and so I completed my second year in China.
When I first heard about the 1,000 student cohort exception, I thought there would be students more eligible than me. However, I was so surprised, excited, and grateful when Massey University invited me to apply for a place.
I followed the instructions and after I received my student visa and secured an MIQ spot, I was ready to return to New Zealand. Although I was a bit stressed at the start, I was very determined because I was so looking forward to returning to New Zealand. Not only being excited about seeing all my friends but also normal university student life - no more zoom and no more recordings. At the same time, I knew I would have to get ready to be independent again since I had been so well taken care of by my parents for a year.
Arriving back in New Zealand, it was good to know that not much had changed, except for the different pathway we had to take to get through customs with a few more checks along the way. All the airport staff, the border staff, and MIQ staff were very friendly and respectful, and they were willing to help whenever I needed it.
So, here are my tips for anyone starting their journey to New Zealand. Hopefully, they help you prepare and help you feel less stressed.
- I understand that it may not be easy to be away from home and your family again. Try to think of things that make you happy, such as seeing your friends again and attending face-to-face classes.
- When packing, prepare a luggage checklist so you won’t forget anything. Be aware of the prohibited items listed on the Customs website and don’t put them in your luggage. Pack the items that you need to declare in your carry-on luggage.
- Dress warmly for the plane. Taking a jacket with you is good.
- Masks are required to be worn throughout the entire flight, and all the way until checking into your room in MIQ.
- Keep in hand your passport, student visa, flight ticket, MIQ voucher, and the pre-departure COVID-19 test report. Also, your student ID because I was asked for it at the Chinese border.
Here are some more tips for you, specifically when you are in MIQ.
- When your flight arrives you don’t need to collect your check-in luggage. It will be sent to your MIQ hotel. So, keep things you might need in your carry-on bag, just to make it easier. I kept my pyjamas and toothbrush with me just in case my luggage wasn’t delivered on time.
- In MIQ, COVID-19 tests are done on days 1, 3 and 12. After the results for the day 1 test are out, and if it is negative, you can talk to the hotel reception and book walks, to get some fresh air. Some hotels will have set times for this activity.
- Three meals are provided every day. Snacks and fruit may also be available. They normally ring you using the landline in your room to get your order for the next day.
- You can also order take-outs (like Uber eats), or place online supermarket orders. Make sure you clearly state your hotel address and room number. Once your order arrives, it will be delivered by the hotel staff to your door.
- There is a welcome pack provided the day you arrive. It includes new masks, snacks, and a very comprehensive information booklet where you can find most answers you will need.
- A free SIM card may be provided by some MIQ hotels. Remember, beware of phone scams.
- Remember you can always ask reception using the landline in your room if you are unsure about anything or even just to change your meal order.
- During your stay in the MIQ hotel, make a plan and write a to-do list for when you get out of quarantine. Get yourself organised while still having heaps of time.
- Stay connected with your friends and let them know that you are back.
- Make sure to stay in contact with your education provider. Let them know about your itineraries, such as your flight to New Zealand and the date you will be out of quarantine. After your arrival keep them updated (ie. like a heads-up of where you are staying and how you are feeling). For example, when I was in quarantine, I stayed in close contact with my case coordinator at Massey, and we also had a few zoom sessions just to keep her updated on how I was doing. For any questions or problems encountered at MIQ or on the way to MIQ, you can also let them know - they may be able to help. Of course before doing this try to sort things out with the staff at the airport or the hotel, because they are the ones in charge of everything. They are always there to help and support you.
- On the day you finish your quarantine, they usually arrange a free shuttle bus service to the domestic airport in Auckland (that is if you are staying in Auckland for MIQ). Remember, your friends can come and pick you up directly from either the hotel or the airport. Just let them know what your plan is and everything will be good to go.
- The last thing but the most important thing - just be relaxed and chilled. There’s no need to worry or stress - lots of people are there to help you. Ask questions when you are not sure, either at the airport or in the hotel, no matter how small you think it is. It’s always better to get an answer directly from the authorised staff than to stress yourself out.
I hope this information is helpful. Have a great journey and good luck with everything!