As the headline suggests, this article is going to be about me, Garv Malhotra, experiencing life as an international student in the beautiful country of New Zealand.
Going abroad for further studies or a job, always sounds like an amazing idea to an Indian guy, but it is not often that they can fulfil that dream. You can imagine my excitement when I finally got to act upon that dream! I was heading to Hamilton, New Zealand, to study communication at Wintec, hopefully for a future in magazine publishing.
I was on cloud nine, however, as excited as I was about getting this opportunity, I realised that the journey was going to be challenging.
I had to go through various academic exams to test my eligibility. It was not easy, especially because English is not my first language. I was determined, and I was not going to give up on the dreams.
The hard part was getting the visa, and it was even harder waiting for it. There were several weeks where I hoped it would arrive and it did not! It was very frustrating. To top all of that I received a lot of discouragement from my own family.
I have two elder brothers and though I respect them and their wives for being as successful as they are, it seemed very wrong on their part to discourage my journey.
They suggested I was going to waste my parents’ money by moving, and the adventure was all for the sake of my enjoyment, not for my study. I have such amazing parents as my support, guiding me at every step, so I never gave up on my dreams.
Eventually, I received the visa and boarded the plane after saying a hundred goodbyes to all my relatives and friends who I had spent all my life with. I was leaving behind all that I had known for the 23 years of my life, which was scary, but exciting.
On the plane, I mentally prepared myself for the upcoming hardships, because they would be different from any I had experienced. I would be all on my own, with no pampering from my parents, and I could not depend on my friends to come save me from trouble.
I knew it was all going to be worth it in the end because my dreams were large, and the will to fulfil those dreams and prove myself was even bigger than my biggest fears.
As I stepped into Wintec for the first time, I went through a swirl of emotions, indescribable happiness because I was finally here, but also fear because this was all new to me and I did not know how to go about it.
The staff were very welcoming and helped me through it all. The people here at Wintec were really friendly too. This really helped in calming the nerves.
I quickly found a place to live in. It was a nice and comfy apartment rented by an Indian couple and a roommate, who is also an Indian student. But, after just one month, problems with some of my housemates began which has made things stressful and uncomfortable.
I have also faced discrimination on a number of occasions. Once while clubbing with friends, and we came across a group of New Zealanders who we chatted to. They insulted our country and beliefs. I was surprised to learn that some locals have very negative and backward opinions about India.
However, I have also come across many sweet people too. A lot of locals are happy to help me out when I need it!
As an international student here, I am under a lot of pressure. I have gone through many days without sleeping, just so I could submit my assignments on time. It can be tough because sometimes the assignments are hard to understand due to the language barrier. Language and cultural differences can also make communicating with my classmates and teachers difficult.
New Zealand is a beautiful country. Despite the hardships I am glad I chose to come here because it is providing me with a lot of opportunities that any international student would look for. I won’t deny that there are days when I’m very homesick and lonely and wish I could go back when things get very hard.
My father said to me, “If everything’s going good, then something bad might also come along, so be ready to face and tackle it. If everything’s bad then the good times are also going to come along. You have just got to keep holding on. The ups and downs indicate you are living a good life, so never give up.”