I came to New Zealand at the age of ten as an international student and I really struggled when I first arrived here. As a result I’ve put together some tips to help you settle into life in New Zealand.
1. Have an open mind
It's very likely that things will be done differently and people will have different perspectives, and you will find your new way of living very different from what you are familiar with. You will be exposed to the New Zealand lifestyle, Kiwi culture and to people who you haven’t met before. It will be a big change in your life. I know, I have been there before.
However, if you remain positive and keep an open mind, you will overcome many cultural differences and develop a new appreciation for such differences. You will become more relaxed and you will be able to enjoy everything that New Zealand has to offer. You may experience some discomfort before you are able to function well in your new setting. Just keep reminding yourself that you should be open to new or other ways of doing things. After all there is no better way of doing things, it is just a different way.
2. Make new friends
Moving to a new country will be a shock no matter what, but don't hide in your room and don't be afraid. New Zealanders are the friendliest people in the world. Get to know your classmates, flatmates, lecturers and tutors. Befriend the people you have crossed paths with, the people you like and the people you are interested in. Expose yourself to a new environment and mingle with others.
If you have trouble meeting new people or making new friends, check out your local student associations, university clubs or contact your school's international student office for helps. Sign up and get involved. Making new friends, new connections and new networks will definitely help you combat homesickness and help you to feel at home in New Zealand.
3. Volunteer your time
Find an organisation to volunteer your time with or look for opportunities to volunteer. This will allow you to meet new people and expose you to the local workplace culture which will help you to settle in.
Check out my blog post on volunteering in New Zealand for more information.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask
It's very important to remember that if you are unsure about anything it’s OK to ask someone. Don't be afraid to ask someone to explain anything or to ask for their help. Also, it is the quickest way to learn and you will find Kiwis are very approachable and willing to lend a helping hand.
5. Be patient
Even the most confident and prepared people don't settle into a new country immediately. You cannot prepare for everything and it is impossible to fully understand the customs and norms straight away. Being patient is a very important part of the settling in process. It won’t happen overnight, so don't push yourself too hard to make it happen quickly. It takes time to build a new life but, trust me, it will happen.
I hope you all find these tips useful and that you all enjoy your stay here. Let's embrace the New Zealand experiences and enjoy the Kiwi ride!
Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei