There is no shortage of information on what universities can offer prospective international students in regards to programme choice, entrance requirements, accommodation and lifestyle, but once you have reached your goal and walked the stage to receive your hard earned degree or diploma, what next? Life doesn’t end when your course ends, it is just the beginning! We decided to catch up with University of Otago alumni Joyce Zhang to find out where she is, what she is doing, and her thoughts on what it is like to be an international student studying at Otago.
What did you study and why?
I studied English at the University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year UOLCFY and then studied telecommunication (Postgraduate Diploma in Science) in information science department which is on the ninth, tenth and eleventh floors of the Otago Business School building. It was the same major as my Bachelor degree, everyone in my bachelor class in China pursued a higher degree as we believe it will lead to better employability. I thought ‘why not improve my English along with a higher qualification’ so I decided to go overseas.
Where are you now?
I am working as a China Representative for the University of Otago and I am based in Guangzhou, China. I look after student recruitment and partnership engagement in the China market for the Otago University International Office (which I am very proud of – it is a dream for me to work for my university 😊).
Fondest memory of Otago
My fondest memory of Otago was my international friendships – you never lose them even though you’re not in the same country. A Japanese girl I met in Language Centre helped me a lot to improve my oral English so I achieved IELTS 7 in speaking after only 1 month of my arrival in NZ. A Korean girl with a working holiday visa invited me to visit her in Seoul two years ago, and we went to Shanghai Disneyland this March. I also met a nice couple from Denmark who studied as exchange students and we visited the Dunedin Chinese Garden and went skiing together. I am so proud of all these friendships and value them as treasures in my life… I know that I will never forget them and that they will never forget me and we keep in touch on social media.
What advice would you provide for incoming international students about Otago?
Make friends and experience as much as you can. You might worry about your English, safety about travelling and all sorts of stuff, but please don’t stop exploring. Join in peer programmes, language exchange programmes, mentee and mentor programmes. There are many kinds of useful programmes designed for international students that will give you real engagement and help you become a true Otago student.
And just because we like to keep things a little bit light hearted, we thought we would throw in a random question…….
If you were on a deserted island and could only bring three things, what would you bring and why?
Hmmm water, food and… a boyfriend??!! Even if I was isolated, I can still be alive and enjoy every min as long as I can! 😊
If you want to maximise your employment opportunities with further study, want to improve your English speaking and make life long friendships, be like Joyce and find out more about studying at Otago!
Nicky Richardson is an International Marketing Coordinator at the University of Otago. With degrees in music and marketing, she is a recent graduate of Otago herself – she loves Otago so much she ended up getting a job here!