Student Testimonials

International Students Enjoy Studying in the Waikato, New Zealand


Vietnamese International Student

Hillcrest High School Principal Mr Kelvin Whiting presenting Kiana with her Study Waikato Scholarship. Kiana won this scholarship twice.

Kiana, with Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker. Kiana spoke at the Civic Welcome on behalf of all International Students in Hamilton and the Waikato.

My name is Kiana. I started my study in New Zealand in 2011

After a 3 month visit to New Zealand when I was 9 years old, I made it my mission to convince my mum to let me come back but this time, permanently.

It finally happened when I was 13. I started high school in the South Island and then moved to Hillcrest High School in Hamilton for my last two years to live with my sister who has a job at Fonterra.

I understand how difficult it is to leave your friends and family, and everything that you are used to, to come to New Zealand. I also understand how hard it can be, opening up to people in a language which you don’t even feel comfortable speaking yourself. But, oh boy, it pays when you do.

Before coming here, I had no idea what I was interested in. I thought to myself, I will probably be an accountant just like my sister.

However, thanks to everyone who helped me to grab as many opportunities as possible, I realised what I really wanted to do – be a computer programmer.

In my last year at school I participated in a University of Waikato programme, got into community youth groups, tutored other students and played sports. I picked up cricket, after becoming cricket mad, just like all other New Zealanders witnessing the Black Cap’s breathtaking cricket performances at the World Cup in 2015.

I am now a full time student at the University of Waikato. I won the Study Waikato Scholarship which contributed some money towards my fees. I am working part-time at ‘Gallagher Engineering’, a prestigious, global company with a Head Office in Hamilton. I have also received a Google scholarship (Junior Anita Borg Scholarship) and hope to gain an internship with Google.

I am involved in ‘Girls Inc’, a group promoting Computer Science to female secondary school students.

I think we all should make the most of every opportunity and I have had many in Hamilton. I believe anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

Nguyen Van Trang (Jane)

Vietnamese International Student

Cambridge High School

“My name is Van Trang Nguyen, I come from Vietnam. This year is my second year in Cambridge High School and it is also my final year before stepping up to University.
I chose to study Economics, Accounting, Maths Calculus, Maths Statistic and English because I love Maths and I also want to be an auditor in the future.
When I came here, I had never learnt Accounting before in Vietnam although I knew it would be my future career. However, my Accounting teacher at Cambridge High School was amazing. She helped me step by step, by organizing many tutorials and patiently went through every single lesson. I achieved at the end of year exams which I thought would almost be impossible without her help.  At the end of the day, when I got back to Vietnam last year (2004), I was so proud telling my Mum what I had had and what I achieved, my Accounting teacher was my best teacher I have ever had!!!!

New Zealand is a beautiful country and Cambridge is the most beautiful town, it is set up like an old English style town, green and peaceful. Unlike another place where Asians were unwelcome, the people in Cambridge are different. At Cambridge High School I always find it is easy to mix with Kiwis because they are so friendly, they help me in sport, in class and never mind to explain to me again and again if I don’t understand. The same with my homestay, I felt I was at home and confidently share my thinking with my homestay mother, just like my own Mum.

Lastly, I just want to say, thanks to Cambridge High School which has provided me with a very good education as well as having new friends, learning new culture and if you ask me to share my experience with others who are preparing to study in New Zealand, particularly in Cambridge High School, I would say, “It is the best place to spend your teenage with Cambridge High School style!!!!”


PHAM Trung Hung

Vietnamese International Student

Vietnam is such a small country but there is good number of students that have come to New Zealand to study. I’m Hung Pham and I’ve been in New Zealand for three years. I chose Cambridge for high school and I think it’s a very good choice. It’s quite quiet in Cambridge but that gives me a really good condition to concentrate on my study.

Moreover, the people are very nice and the teachers are very keen on helping students at any stages. That helps me a lot to improve my English which is the key thing in studying and communicating.

The homestay people are really nice, I feel like a part of the family. This year I’m staying with a family with four kids. Sometimes I miss the vietnamese food so much, so I go to Auckland with my friends in holiday time to enjoy the food.

School is very interesting with many different activities for students, especially for international students. The teachers are willing to help anytime and offer lots of tutorial to help students to catch up with the lesson. After high school, I can choose to go to University in New Zealand or somewhere else. But there will be one certain thing, I will go back to New Zealand sometimes to visit all my good friends and I will never forget them later or the people. New Zealand is a part of my life.

Ali Al-shamriDeni Sutardi & Homare Machida

International Students from United Arab Emirates, Indonesia & Japan

University of Waikato

Three friends, three different cultures.

Ali Al-Shamri from the United Arab Emirates has a scholarship to study Social Policy.  Deni Sutari’s home country is Indonesia, and he plans to study Tourism.  Homare Machida is Japanese and looks forward to beginning a degree in Sport & Leisure Studies.

All three enrolled in Foundation Studies with the University of Waikato Language Institute because they needed to improve their English in order to get entrance to degree study.  They say that they have definitely learned more English, and have also been able to develop their knowledge further before starting studying for their degrees.  Deni in particular enjoyed Economics – learning how to manage money, and how international politics affect markets.  Homare said that the highlight for him was dissecting a toad in Biology.  Ali enjoyed Accounting most because, he says, he found it easy.

Other highlights of the year included making new friends and going on trips especially organised for international students.  The three also played in the same soccer team, went to parties together, and played computer games against each other.  They say that Foundation Studies can be a lot of fun, and is a good place where you can make lots of new friends.

Celly Salles

International Student from Brazil

When Celly first arrived in New Zealand from Fortaleza in northern Brazil in 2002, she could not speak a word of English.  In fact, she couldn’t even ask for a glass of water or understand directions to the bathroom.  She met her best friend, who is Malaysian, at the Language Institute yet they could only communicate via electronic dictionaries.

Now, two years later, Celly lives and works in New Zealand and her English is impeccable.

During her 3 months studying English at the University of Waikato Language Institute, Celly admits that it was a tough cha llenge at first – she almost went back home after two weeks.  However, after 3 months, her English improved dramatically and she started to cope.

Celly said: “The University of Waikato Language Institute was great.  It was the start of my life in New Zealand and I met my best friend there.  I also met people from all over the world.  The staff and teachers were great and I feel like I have broken through any language barriers.  I now feel very comfortable speaking English”.

She sees New Zealand as a very friendly and safe place, which is one of the reasons she plans to stay.
“People are very open and friendly here.  I remember in my first week I was totally lost in the city and I couldn’t ask for directions because I couldn’t speak English.  In the end I just wrote down my homestay address on a piece of paper and showed it to somebody and they took me all the way home!”

Celly now enjoys working as a Senior Supervisor at a local café and regularly bumps into old classmates.

Jin Woo Mo (Jin)

International Student from Korea

St John’s College

I come from Korea. I have been attending St John’s College, Hamilton for almost two years now. I started off at this school half way through the 3 rd form. This year, I am in the 5 th form but I can still remember the feeling when I first arrived and saw the big, green fields at my new school and blue, blue skies.  I felt that something about it showed me this would be the best school to grow in with my best talent and knowledge.

This year I am playing Soccer and Hockey for the 1 st X1 teams. I am so proud of being a top sportsman in my school. If I’d wanted to play sports in Korea, I would have had to give up study time.  My dad didn’t want me to play sports in Korea because he missed so many class es to play hockey when he was a boy and he didn’t want me to do the same thing. This is the good thing about sports in New Zealand schools. Here, we don’t have to skip valuable class time to play sports. Learning sports and skills are part of our school programme. I think it helps to keep me healthy too.

At my New Zealand school, the classes are smaller with fewer students. We can have discussions with our teachers and students can know their teachers more easily. I have heaps of opportunities to talk to my teachers at St John’s College. They are kind and friendly to me and they encourage me to do my best.

I have made lots of kiwi friends since I got here. I love to make new friends with an open mind. I don’t get bored at all because I’ve got cool friends such as my sports team-mates, study mates and my music mates. Especially, when I feel like a break from my study in the weekend, I like to go to the city with my kiwi friends. It is really safe here.

Lastly, I say if you want to do something then don’t hesitate. Go for it! There are heaps of chances here in the Waikato. Come on over to NZ, you won’t be sorry!

Kanokviriyasanti, Sutima (Am)

International Student from Thailand

University of Waikato

My name is Sutima Kanokviriyasanti, but my friends call me Am.  I come from Thailand.  I am currently studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Waikato University.

I came to New Zealand for my high schooling, and studied from the fourth to the sixth form at Southland Girls’ High School.  After I finished the sixth form, I went to do Foundation Studies, instead of staying on at school.  I chose to study at Waikato University, because the city is neither too big nor too small, and is q uiet which is good for studying.  I had also heard that 25% of Hamilton’s population are students.

I think the Foundation course is very useful for those people who do not have a high school background in New Zealand, or students who do not take the seventh form in their high school.  It gives many opportunities for students to get to know what university life is like, and prepares them for getting into their degree studies, as there are many similarities in teaching style between studying in Waikato Foundation Studies, and studying in a degree.

The teachers are very nice and always there to help students.  There are many nationalities in the Foundation Studies course, such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Fijian and Vietnamese, so you can make friends with lots of people from different countries.

After having finished the Foundation Studies course, I found that I had gained a lot of knowledge in different areas of my life, especially the experiences of university life.  It gave me the confidence to go on to further studies after I had finished, and I continued to chose to study in Waikato University, as it is the most suitable place for me.

Yuta Inoue

International Student from Japan

St John’s College

My name is Yuta Inoue.  I am 16 years old.  I have come from Osaka in Japan to study English in the Waikato at a secondary school for six months. I want to learn to speak English better. I think this is the best way because it is fun and I am learning so many things.

I chose to study at St John’s College, Hamilton because I heard from my friends about it.  My new school is very different from my Japanese school. We have to move around every period over here and the doors on the classrooms are strange because they open back into the classroom. In Japan, they slid e into the wall.

I like it here very much at my new school. The students are so kind and interested to help me.  I am only here for a short time so I can do many fun things. On Friday mornings I have food technology. Today, I made vegetable fritters and my friends and I enjoyed them with our lunch.

There are four of us here from Osaka at St John’s College and our English is improving so much already. We have language lessons in the mornings. Last month, we visited the Waitomo Caves and the Kiwi House at Otorohonga. They were fun experiences for me. I had never seen a kiwi before. I learned they are like teenagers. They only get up when it’s night-time. At the museum there, I crawled down a skinny tunnel. I was nearly squashed!

I want to come back to New Zealand again for a longer time. See you next time!

Meizi Xu (Jennifer)

International Student from China

University of Waikato

Born:Beijing, China
Programme of Studies: Bachelor of Electronic Commerce
Why Waikato? Waikato University has a quiet relaxed atmosphere. The Waikato Management School has an excellent reputation which influenced my choice.Additional Comments:New Zealand has a different lifestyle to China, as I am independent here. I have also learnt to communicate with people from different countries.

Di Jiang (D)

International Student from China

Cambridge High School

“(The teachers at Cambridge International College) help us so much. They are quite tough on us, and they make us work hard, but they are also very kind.”

D passed all of his Bursary examinations and gained university entrance. D was accepted into Victoria University, where he passed all of his stage one papers and he is now currently completing his second year of university study. D is on track to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Design in 2006.

Zhen Tao (Jackie)

International Student from China

Cambridge High School

“I’m really enjoying it here (at Cambridge International College). I’m studying far more than I did (before). Here the teachers spend more time with students. They are really helpful, and they make sure we do the work properly. If a student can’t go on to university from (Cambridge International College), they won’t ever be able to go. Last year my English was not good. Now I’m confident about improving, and I want to do accounting next year at Auckland University.”

Jackie passed all of his Bursary examinations, gaining A passes in most of his subjects. He also gained university entrance. Jackie was accepted into Auckland University, where he passed his stage one papers and is now currently completing his second year of university study. Jackie is on track to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce in 2006.

Gan, Song (Sydney)

International Student from China

“Last year I failed the bursary exam, but this year, it’s amazing – I’m finding bursary so easy. The teachers here know what Chinese students need, and they care about how we are learning, and they explain things to us so we can understand properly. ”

Sydney passed all of his Bursary examinations, gaining A passes in most of his subjects. He also gained university entrance. Sydney was accepted into Waikato University, where he passed his stage one papers and he is now currently completing his second year of university study. Sydney is on track to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce.

Weina Zhang

International Student from China

Born: North Shenyang, China
Programme of Studies: Bachelor of Social Science in Tourism Studies
Aspiring:To look for work in my field in New Zealand, Australia or Canada

Why Waikato? I don’t like big cities. Hamilton isn’t too busy or expensive and has a laid back lifestyle with good welfare which allows me to concentrate on my studies.The Management School also has an excellent reputation.

Zhao, Liang (William)

International Student from China

When my parents sent me overseas to study in 1999, I thought I was going to Australia, but instead I went to New Zealand and I didn’t even know where it was.  I came here because it was easy to get a visa, and also because New Zealand is more like Britain, and Australia was set up as a jail for Britain, so I preferred coming here. I came here originally to go to high school and did year 11 and 12, and the first half of year 13.  I didn’t finish year 13 because it was too difficult to get bursary, so I transferred to Foundation Studies.  High school helped me a lot because I had such a good English teacher, and also because being the only Chinese student, I had to speak English all the time.

Foundation Studies was really good for me, as it was taught like a degree course, especially New Zealand Government and Society, with lectures done in power point – just like in my degree.  It was also good as it made me feel like a real university student, not a high school one.  Because of the teaching style it helped me to cope far better in my degree.  It also helped me understand more about New Zealand and New Zealanders.

I am now about to start my 3rd year in a Bachelor of Social Science, with my major in Economics and supporting subject Labour Studies, but I like Labour Studies so much, I am considering making it a double major.  I really like the lecturers in the Arts and Social Sciences, as they have lots of time for their students and really help them a great deal.  Also the people there are better, both staff and students; they are more friendly, and am only doing Economics for parental reasons – not choice.  I love Labour Studies.

As for New Zealand, I love it here:  I like the people as they are so friendly.  I love the environment here, as the sky is so clear and everywhere is so clean and green.  And I love the New Zealand accent as it is so easy to understand.  I feel at home here, and I get homesick when I leave.  I particularly miss Hamilton.  Being in Xian now feels funny, as I start missing Hamilton.  I don’t like the South Island much, except for Queenstown and the snowboarding – that’s great.  But I do miss the Chinese food.  So far I have only found one place in Auckland that has food from my own area – Xian.  But home is too crowded, and I now hate crowds.  I like to keep distance around myself, like other Kiwis.

But what do I love most about being in New Zealand – it has made me so proud that I am now bilingual.

Anna Kurita, Hikarigaoka HS

International Student from Japan

Sacred Heart Girls’ College

Hi! I’m Anna Kurita from Japan.  I’ve been here two months.  At first everything was very different , but now it is much easier.  I have kiwi friends and there are some other Japanese girls here at the school too.  I like being able to eat something at interval as well as lunchtime.  You can’t do that in Japan.  At first I stayed with a big family – 2 parents, 5 boys, 1 girl, 1 very big dog and 3 cats!  Now I am living with a couple who have grown-up children.  I’ve visited the Waitomo Caves and seen kiwis at the Kiwi House.  They were very funny birds.  I also went to Hahei Beach in the holidays. Sacred Heart Girls’ College is a great school.

Lea Grote

International Student from Germany

I’m Lea Grote from Germany and I’m here for six months. What I like most is New Zealand itself – the scenery – travelling around and seeing places like Welllington, the East Coast, Rotorua, Whakatane and Northland.

I’ve made heaps of nice friends here at Sacred Heart. We get together on the weekends to watch videos, chat and have spas. I really get along with my host family – especially my 15 year-old host-sister, Lydia.

I think the experience has made me more open and self-confident, so if you are thinking of coming to New Zealand, go for it!

I really enjoy Drama and Media Studies because I can’t do them at my school in Germany. I also like lunch breaks because you can relax during the school day and talk to your friends.