I still remember the conversation I had with my homeroom teacher on my high school graduation day.
“Where are you studying for your bachelor’s degree, Cindy?” he asked.
“Auckland, New Zealand, Sir,” I answered proudly.
I knew my friends were going to Australia and the USA, so I was confident he’d be impressed with my choice of going to a land where no other student from my high school had gone before. It was a bold choice. Surely I deserved a little praise.
But, no. No praise. No congratulations. I didn’t even get a smile. His next word was, “Why?” He looked confused.
“Why New Zealand? Why not Australia?”
Why, indeed. Australia was the more obvious choice. It has reputable universities whose graduates are highly sought after. For long the continent has been the first choice for many Indonesian students searching for quality in their higher education.
My choice to disregard these esteemed qualities and went for the underdog seemed ludicrous, not only to my homeroom teacher, but to many others as well.
And that wasn’t the last time I was asked with the same question. During the course of my three-year study, I encountered many who found it hard to understand the reason behind my decision.
“Is it because of 'The Lord of The Rings'? Are you a big fan?” a guy friend asked. I rolled my eyes and answered no. That would be the dumbest reason.
“Is it because you can’t get into an Australian university?” a distant aunt asked.
“Why do you want to go there? Aren’t there more sheep than humans in New Zealand?”
“Aren’t you afraid your degree won’t be recognized?”
“Where is New Zealand anyway? Isn’t it, like, in the middle of nowhere?”
The questions went on and on and on.
I admit that I was surprised with people’s reaction, but understood where they were coming from.
Six years ago, New Zealand wasn't as known as it is now. It was also among the least popular study destinations chosen by international students. The country was renowned for its breathtaking scenery and its role in 'The Lord of The Rings' movies, not for its quality education. Its universities were not present in education fairs back then, while Australia’s were a constant participant. Thus, the public knowledge of New Zealand education and its quality were limited.
Things, however, have changed in the past couple years and I’m no longer receiving raised eyebrows or dubious looks every time I tell someone I’m a New Zealand university graduate. Thanks to governmental partnership in trades, tourism and education, Indonesians’ awareness of New Zealand have improved. New Zealand universities like the Auckland University, AUT University, The University of Waikato, and Otago University have held numerous education fairs in the past two years or so. A friend who works as an agent for these universities tells me there is a significant increase in the number of students applying.
The Rotorua Daily Post reported that Indonesia is one of three countries the New Zealand government is prioritizing as a partner in education. The government is looking to double its economic contribution to export education by 2025. The OCED’s (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) Education at Glance 2013 report shows the strength of New Zealand education system, with the country’s ranking forth in terms of the number of international students studying in tertiary level.
It's time to look beyond Australia in your search for quality education. If the above facts have not yet convinced you, here are more reasons why you should study in New Zealand.
It has an international reputation as a provider of quality education
The country has just gained its popularity in Indonesia in recent years, but in Australia, UK, and European countries, New Zealand has long been regarded as one of the best places to study. It has international campuses that adopt the British Education System— the world’s most recognized and accredited education system. With a degree from New Zealand, you’ll have a competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
The New Zealand dollar is cheaper compared to Australia’s and the US. The living cost in this country is also comparably lower. In New Zealand, you can study under British education system with a fraction of the costs.
Enjoy high standard of living
New Zealanders enjoy a high standard of living – ranking in the top 10 according to the United Nations, while Indonesia ranks 108th. Campuses are surrounded by green, open spaces and pollution is almost non-existent. Weather is pleasant throughout the year, with the exception of few cold winter nights. New Zealand is also one of the safest places on earth.
Feel welcomed and be a part of an internationally diverse culture
New Zealanders, known affectionately as Kiwis, are very friendly people. They are well-travelled and thus are very welcoming toward new cultures. Zealand is a multicultural nation, with the Maori (the indigenous people), the Pakeha (European descents), Pacific Islanders, European, and Asian making up its population. Here, you can build your international contacts and form lasting friendships.
Work and study
Accumulate work experiences to enhance your CV. International students can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and up to 40 hours during the holidays. Additionally, you get a one-year work visa after you graduate, with an opportunity for extension.
Study in one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Enjoy lavish scenery wherever you go. Travel the country and immense yourself in new cultures.
New Zealand is a great place to study. It is vastly becoming one of the world’s best providers of first-class education. It is a country with endless learning opportunities. Go beyond Australia. Look into New Zealand and see the quality of education being offered there.
Cindy Tanudjaja is a Bachelor of Communication Studies graduate from AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. She now resides in Jakarta, where she runs her online business.
This article originally appeared in Indonesia Mengglobal, a site where Indonesian students and alumni from top world’s universities share their study-abroad tips and experiences. The site aspires to make high-quality global education more accessible for Indonesian students.