Friday, January 16, 2009

Studying in New Zealand-Part 1


From now on,I'll like to put some informations about studying in New Zealand.These inputs I copied from Lowyat Forum-Education Essentials.May all of you get benefits from this entry.Here it goes.....

NZ is really very beautiful, some parts more than others (eg Queenstown), but generally you have to get out of the cities first. I've always thought that it's a pity there isn't a uni in Queenstown - would be the world's most beautiful uni if there is. South Island more beautiful than North Island.Note that I use the term 'city' losely cos what the Kiwis call 'city' sould only qualify as a small town somewhere else.

Yes, quite safe. People are still quite honest and violent crime is rare.... though it's growing. But like anywhere else in the world, you need to be careful - lock your doors, don't leave valuable stuff lying around, don't walk in dark alleys by yourself etc.

Varies between places (Auckland the most expensive) and the type of lifestyle you want but you should budget around NZ$12,000 to be safe.

Part-time: shouldn't be much of a problem. The unis have a service called Student Job Search which helps students find part-time jobs. Minimum wage is around $10, minus 19% tax. Tax here is high and EVERY dollar is taxed, even interest from your savings account. International students are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term time.

Full-time: Depends on whether you mean summer job or 'real' graduate job. Summer job should be quite easy, just use SJS to look. If you're good/lucky, you might get a summer internships. Those pay quite well. International students can work full-time during the summer break.

Graduate job: Not too hard provided you have a decent CV - work experience (any job, doesn't have to be relevant, Kiwis have a part-time work culture), extra-curriculars, and decent grades. Most of my friends managed to find jobs relatively easily.... just need some time and patience.

NZ graduates are granted a 6 month work visa on application. This can be extended to a full work permit once you find a full-time job related to your degree. Makes it easier to find job cos employers don't have to worry about work permit applications. Once you get a job, getting a PR is an easy next step. NZ PR is better than Australian cos it's indefinate - once you've stayed there under PR for 2 years, you can leave anytime you want and never come back. Almost as good as citizenship. Not like Aus where you have to stay for 2 out of 5 years to keep it. They might change their immigration laws in the future though.

Other basic info: NZ is a country of 4 million people and has a landmass is the size of Great Britian. Wellington is the capital, Auckland is the largest city. The native people are the Maori. The Maori name for NZ is Aoteroa - the Land of the Long White Cloud. Asian population is about 7%, congregrated mostly in Auckland.

There are 8 unis - University of Auckland, University of Otago, University of Canterbury, Victoria University of Wellington, Massey University, University of Waikato, Lincoln University and Auckland University of Technology. The first 4 are considered the better, more established ones. A couple of the others have their own specialist fields. All are public universities.

Some Malaysian private colleges twin with NZ unis - Inti with Otago, and I dunno who with Vic and Lincoln. There are also polytechnics, many of which have degree-granting powers in specific fields. Not sure if there is any twinning.

This is a rugby-mad country. If you like other sports, you're going to suffer deprivation.

The place is amazing. Fresh air, green grass, cheap milk, plentiful honey. And thats just North Island. The rolling hills are amazing (through a pain to walk if youre in Auckland), the whole place is very laid back and peaceful. I miss the place sometimes...

By and large, NZ is a "saftey" place to study. Peaceful, people are usually nice and friendly. Sure, there is crime as any other place, but by and large, its safe. A "high" death toll over the weekend is 2 people dead! One tip: for those in Auckland, the south side (Manukau, Otara) isnt the best place to be. IMO, it should be avoided if possible.

Allocate $200/wk to live for the bare minimum. Note that heating costs in NZ can make up a significant part of your bills. Winters are freezing to say the least.

While there is Student Job Search in most uni's, as a international student finding jobs will be hard (they prefer PR's and citizens). As a Asian, you;ll have to fight a bit. In anycase, never expect working part-time to cover more than 40% of your expences.

The govt recently introduced a new visa for new grads of NZ universities - a 6 month work visa.

That's plenty of time to find a job and and once you have it, the visa gets extended to a full work permit. The process very simple so employers no longer have the no work permit excuse to employ you.

The Asian factor is a problem but then it's one even citizens (plenty of Asian citizens) and PRs have to overcome.

Living expenses - like I said, it does vary quite a lot. Rent per week in Auckland is around $170. Dunedin (where Uni of Otago is) is about $100. But note that your lease in Dunedin will be for the whole year, ie 52 weeks, while you'll only stay for around 38-40 weeks.

Auckland leases are more flexible. If you don't mind a really crappy place then it's cheaper. If you want to stay further away, it's also cheaper. Lots of things to consider: crappy flat = bad insulation so colder, more money on heating; further away you'll need to pay for transport.

I'd recommend staying in a hall of residence for the first year. Great for exposure, social life and just experiencing the Kiwi student life. I've noticed people who rent places by themselves tend to keep to their own groups without going out to mix. If you want to do that, might as well stay in Malaysia.

Wellington's quite a nice place. Some people find it a bit drab but it's ok in my books. It's the cultural heart of the country so if you like that sort of stuff you're going to the right place. I read somewhere that it has more bars and cafes per capita than New York. But since there aren't that many people, it doesn't add up to that many. Still, it has a good number.

PR? The easiest way is to get a job after graduation. Once that's done, fill in an 'expression of interest' form and if you meet the points requirement (which you should if you have a job related to your degree), the govt will invite you to apply for PR.

I haven't heard of anyone turned down yet. Govt's been slowly tightening the immigration policy so things might change in the future. Alternatively, find a million NZ dollars from somewhere and apply under the 'Investment' category.

But seriously, the fastest and easiest way now would be to learn hairdressing, beekeeping, bricklaying or some other trade. NZ's desperately short of skilled tradesmen/women. Those are trades on the critical shortage list. No need to worry about studying hard for a degree.

You're referring to Grafton Hall's internet right? If so, you can forgot about torrents and most (if not all p2ps). Grafton is part of the Uni of Auckland, which like most unis overseas, has very strict terms of internet usage. 2 reasons - they don't want to get involved with breaches of copyright issues and they want to control the total amount of usage (if every student starts downloading like crazy the system will collapse).

I'm not sure if you'll be able to get an external (commercial) internet provider into the hall. There might be infrastructure issues. Then again, there's always Whoosh which is wireless... but more expensive I believe. Grafton is one of the nicer halls in Auckland Uni.

Ground are quite nice, it's quite small so it's more friendly, intimate and less formal. Has a relatively high concentration of Malaysian 4th year and above students, mainly IMU people. Only issue is that the rooms tend to be pretty small, corridors dark and bathrooms could do with updating.

1) You actually don't need an IRD number when you open a bank account. But without one, your interest gets taxed a much higher rate. So you can come in, open an account, deposit money, then only apply for an IRD number. That way you'll be able to get money in nice and early etc. But don't take too long about applying for the IRD number.

2) It varies from person to person. Average temperature in summer 25 degrees, in winter 10 degrees. Factor wind chill in as well. You won't need those super-thick winter jackets but you'll need something more substantial than a windbreaker/jumper. Auckland is always raining (especially during winter and spring) so I recommend a water-proof jacket. Umbrellas are useless thanks to the wind.

Books - I won't recommend unless there are a couple of really core texts that you'll need. Those are generally much cheaper to buy in Msia but they're also super-heavy. Other stuff... handphone... can't think of anything else atm.

Free landline is only for local calls, within Auckland. Definitely not to Australia, not even to other parts of NZ. It's not entirely free since subscribers have to pay for line rental in the first place (not cheap). But since you're staying in a hall, that'll be taken care off. Most halls' phones are toll-bared. To make external calls you'll have to get a pre-paid calling card.

Handphone - I recommend Vodafone. Telecom is annoying cos you have to use their phones, can't use your phone from Msia. Vodafone Prepay prices are 20c for domestic SMS, 30c for international, 89c or $1.49 per minute call depending on the plan. I never call, too expensive. A good prepaid plan is Supa Prepay with TXT2000 - gives you 2000 SMSs a month for only $10. Only to other Vodafone phones though and calls are darn expensive at $1.49.

Customs +Immigration- NZ customs have never checked my computer/hard-drive before. I don't think they ever will... they're much too worried about food and stuff that might destroy their agricultural sector. If you're worried, don't bring in any CDs/DVDs and just copy them into your computer. Should be fine then... But if you're really worried, just don't bring any over.

Cheap handphones are pretty easy to get (Telecom is currently selling a Sanyo for $49) but the catch is you'll have to go on plan. And you'll be bound to them for around 2 years (I think). Why not just buy a cheap one there? Unless it's a really special deal, the cheap phones in Msia are still cheaper than NZ.

Comparing the reputation of the degrees, most people will pick Canterbury over Massey. The fact that Ernest Rutherford was from Canterbury should give it brownie points.

On the actual degrees, I guess you need to look into the fields covered by both unis, one might do stuff (that interests you) the other doesn't. Also, it might pay to check with uni offers more opportunities for students to take part in actual research through summer studentships and the like.

Public transport in Auckland is bad by developed-country standards. Don't expect anything like the London tube or Sydney tram system here. Buses are very expensive and not always reliable. Same goes for the train, and the stations are placed at even more inconvenient places than the LRT in KL. I have no experience with the ferries.But it should really bother you since you're staying so close to the hospital.

Buses in Auckland are still better than KL. Trains are terrible (don't bother. Seriously) but ferries are convenient if you live at the east side. From Bucklands beach to the city is only about 20 mins (1 hr plus on a bus). Not as frequent as I'd like, but still okay.Bikes are useless in this place. Pratically every part of Auckland is mount everest. Don't get me started with Emily Pl and Eden Cresent leading to Symonds St. How they built the road in the first place is beyond me.

If you do industrial training here, the pay will easily cover for rent/other expenses. Average pay is $15 per hour from what I hear, and as a full time job, it comes to quite a substantial amount. Compare that with the measly few hundred RM you'll get for industrial training in M'sia. And if you get a good firm, chances are they'll employ you after graduation. It can get pretty competitive though... But I'm assuming you're a PR since you take NZ govt loan. That will make things easier.

To be continued....