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Overcoming Challenges for International Students

Being a student is a challenge, being an international student is an even bigger one. I believe student life in my home country is pretty easy, but being a student by yourself in a different country can be hard.

I was just 18 years old when I first landed here in New Zealand. It’s been seven months now and I’ve had some wonderful and some tough experiences that I will remember throughout my life. The journey has not been easy, there are challenges that I have faced that I believe most international students will experience when they first come to New Zealand.

For all those who are planning to come to New Zealand, I would like to share some challenges that you might have to face and suggest ways in which you can tackle them.

My writing is mostly focused on problems that Indian students might experience, but I'm sure the problems are similar for other international students as well. 

1. Culture Shock

The first and foremost challenge that every international student has to face is the cultural shock you have to go through while you adjust to life in a new country. The ways that things are done here in New Zealand are going to definitely be different from the ways you would do things in your home country. The culture, the atmosphere and the people are different, but isn’t that what we come abroad for? “The change”? I believe that you should not criticise that these things are done differently and rather try to adjust to them. It is our responsibility to try to make an understanding of these differences and jell in as quickly as we can. The culture here is welcoming and you will be respected if you don’t do stupid things.

Isn’t that what we come abroad for? "The change"?

2. Communication

Another problem that I see most international students struggling here with is communication. Whether it be a language barrier, difficulty understanding an accent or being too shy to talk, communication in a new country can be difficult. The only solution I believe to such a problem is to open up to people. Even if you think that you are wrong or are too shy to start a conversation, try to go out and talk to people. That’s the only way you can start to understand them. People in New Zealand are very good human beings and they will respect the fact that you are trying. One should not be scared of making mistakes, it’s a good way to learn things.

3. Home-sickness

Home-sickness is another big challenge that you might have to face when coming to New Zealand, unless you already have family or friends here. As I came here alone, knowing absolutely no one, I faced this problem every day for the first month or so. This is a very natural and common feeling, but again you cannot sit at a place and wish for things to change. Make a habit of talking to your friends and family back home regularly, but try not to only talk to them. Go out and talk to people here in your new home; make friends, go hang out with some people, it’s not bad. 

International students with friends

Make friends, go hang out with some people, it’s not bad.

4. Finances

Keeping up with your finances, be it earnings or savings, is another major thing to focus on. One of my very good friends here has a Funds Transfer Scheme (FTS) so he receives money every month, but at the end of each month he is still in debt. Even if you have heaps of money in your accounts I would suggest keeping records of your wasteful expenditure and try to bring it down (that’s a lesson for life). Earnings are kind of tough in New Zealand. Getting a job might not be that difficult but keeping a hold of it could be. Keep looking for opportunities and never miss one. Everything that helps you earn money is important. However, if you can, it is definitely sensible to choose a job which gives you a better future over a job with better money. 

These are the challenges that I think every international student probably faces here in New Zealand but there could be more. What do you think? 


By Madhav KapurIndian Undergraduate Student

Updated 5 years ago

Madhav Kapur is a student from Delhi, India. He is currently studying business at the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec). He is hoping to use the skills he gains at Wintec to pursue a career in law.

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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