With the recent landslide victory by the Jacinda Ardern-led Labour government, it’s safe to say that saving lives is a real vote-winner — powered by yet another master class in crisis leadership by its prime minister.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, New Zealand went into one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. No chances were taken, despite its geographical isolation and relatively small population. Borders were closed to foreigners; “a team of five million” (i.e. everyone in the country) was rallied. Bold, prompt and decisive — the strategy worked. At its peak, New Zealand had only 89 cases a day and is now down to single digit figures, and all of them contained at the border. Total number of deaths? 25.
Walk through Christchurch City today and it can feel as if the pandemic did not even happen here. The national mood is a mix of relief plus elation — with community transmission of the coronavirus eliminated, it’s little surprise why. The government is now able to allow unrestricted gatherings and relax restrictions on movement around the country, as well as most other restrictions and legal requirements on businesses, services and individuals. A day after the election, over 46,000 fans crammed into Eden Park Stadium to watch their national rugby team, the All Blacks, defeat Australia.
It’s as close to a fairytale post-virus world as it can be. Yet, it has not been immune to the pandemic’s economic consequences. Jobs in the aviation and tourism industry are understandably low — but opportunities have arisen in industries such as engineering, public transport, construction, food, forestry, health and teaching. Private American aerospace manufacturer and small satellite launch service provider, Rocket Lab, even launched an apprenticeship in aerospace engineering for aviation engineers in New Zealand recently.
Although applications for most temporary visas from outside New Zealand are suspended for the time being, students who have completed their education in New Zealand can apply for a visa to work here. Depending on their qualification and academic institution, they can work for any employer and do almost any work.
New Zealand’s speedy bounce back from the pandemic also reminds us of how a small nation can rally together and show resilience. A sign of pure community spirit. Its second largest city, Christchurch, remains a city of opportunity today – where change and innovation are embraced, sustaining a robust job market.
Christchurch has gained popularity amongst youth globally for being a student-friendly city and is home to the UC International College at the University of Canterbury.
With seamless pathway programmes into University of Canterbury undergraduate courses, students leap right into the second year of their degree upon successful completion of the programme. It is, without a doubt, the quickest way into one of New Zealand’s best and most prestigious universities.
From commerce and engineering to game design and science, these University Transfer Programmes (UTP) at UCIC are conducted in small classes, meaning you get more personal attention from lecturers. A range of support services and programmes are available too.
Having a sister who studied in New Zealand — and had good experiences here — convinced Sarra Amalia Binti Mohamed Zainurin to make the same move. The Malaysian, who is currently enrolled in UTP Commerce (majoring in accounting) says, “I chose to study at UCIC because of the pathway programme they offer. It helps me save time and money as I don’t have to do A Levels or a foundation programme, and takes me straight into year two of my degree.”
To her, UCIC is now her second home. “I find New Zealand to be very safe and I don’t feel afraid to walk alone at night. The lecturers and students are super friendly and nice. UCIC gives its students support, both academic and socially,” she adds.
UCIC is more than just an educational experience for its students; it’s an adventure for the wanderlusters at heart as there is so much to explore in Canterbury and beyond.
“UCIC offers more than the other colleges, with almost one-on-one attention with the teachers, smaller classroom sizes and friendly teachers,” says Siddharth Nekkundi Chandrashekara from India. “My first impression of New Zealand is its clean, pure air. In my free time, I usually hang out with my friends; we have barbeque parties all the time!”
“We also head out to the cafes and bars as often as we can or take a trip out of the city — my favourite has got to be Queenstown that is filled with activities you can’t find elsewhere!” he exclaims.
Rock climbing, fitness centre, basketball — the list goes on for the sports enthusiasts at UCIC. “The experience I’m getting at UCIC is delightful. In my spare time, I play basketball with my friends who I met at the UCIC basketball club tryouts,” says Thai national Takumi Matsumura.
His advice to new students is to “focus on your education but never forget to go out and get crazy with your friends and make everlasting memories that make you stronger mentally and emotionally.”