By JUDITH BEAUDESSON

Ahhhh New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud that most young people around the world dream about. With its volcanoes, amazing landscapes and culture, and millions of sheep.
Who wouldn’t want to live here? Are you thinking of getting a visa to experience this journey to the other side of the world? Let me run you through a couple of things you need to know first!

A little bit of personal background:

I moved to New Zealand in December 2016 for a fresh start with my parents, Marcel and Lily, and my little half sister, Marie. My parents wanted a better future for us and to give us more opportunities such as being able to speak English fluently and discovering the famous land of the Lord of the Rings.

Obviously, there were other reasons such as the fact that there was only one university in Reunion Island with not a lot of study options, the education system was lacking in certain areas and there were also major economic factors such as 30% of unemployment.

Also knowing that New Zealand was known as being the 4th safest country in the world, with all the terrorist attacks happening in the French territory, my parents were even more confident about their decision.

I got my student visa pretty easily and we left Reunion Island being pretty confident about this big move. But once we did, we realised that immigrating to New Zealand wasn’t as easy and wonderful as we thought it would be.

Getting your residency:

Residency could be approved after three years with my parents’ work visa. But … let’s just say it didn’t go that smoothly. Our residency application didn’t get approved. We were going to get kicked out of the country unless my mum came up with a new ‘business’ or ‘study’ plan. Thankfully, she did. Phewwww we got to stay!

But unfortunately this isn’t the case for everyone. Chrizani Meyer said, “We moved to NZ to stay there permanently, but because we didn’t get our residency things started to get difficult and we had to move back after a year of living in NZ.”

Another irritating thing for myself as I am now 18 is that I cannot leave home as I have to stay under my parents’ roof, my student visa depends on their visas. Meaning that if I leave home to go flatting for example, I will lose my visa and get kicked out of the country. Soooo, I have to wait until I get my residency to start my own life.
As the number of residency applications approved is not very high, knowing that around 72,000 people immigrate to New Zealand every year (students and adults included), and that the waiting process is now 5 years instead of 3 before being able to apply for residency. How many people do you think decide to go ahead and throw themselves in the fire knowing the risks?

What about part-time jobs?

Part of being on a student visa means that you are a STUDENT which means that you have to STUDY. Yikesss!
But let’s be honest, when you’re a teenager and in your senior years at high school, you want to be able to work like your kiwi friends, right?

Well you can’t! I mean you can in certain situations as Natalia Iacono, another student that immigrated with her family, explained to us, “ I had to apply for a student visa that allowed me to work part-time. Applying for that was a big process. I had to ask for letters and different permissions from school. Also paying the fees of immigration.”
The cost to apply for a student-working visa is around $300 and that is still with the uncertainty of it being approved.

The huge cost of everything and superior studies:

Another impacting issue is that high school can treat you as a domestic student (rather than international student) if you immigrated to New Zealand permanently but once you leave high school to go into the big, wide world like university, you better have saved your money as that’s when it gets really complicated financially…
Remember one thing: if you are not a resident in the country, you are going to have to have lots of money in your savings account.

Let me give you an example here.

More than 26,000 international students are choosing to study in New Zealand. Uni is around $6k-$7k per year, right? Well, if you are on a student visa it’s $30k-$40k instead. Per year. Yes. “I pay 17 000 NZD for a year at Otumoetai College”, said Judith Saethre and Natalia is experiencing the same problem at uni, “When I was in high school I wasn’t paying any fees because my visa says I should be treated as a domestic student in high school. But now that I am planning to go to University, the situation is different.

Since I don’t have my residency yet I will probably have to pay at least 25,000 dollars more than kiwi people. I find it very unfair. I understand that we have to pay a fee to go to University but the difference between what kiwi people and internationals have to pay is a bit ridiculous.”

Also, in most cases you are not allowed a student loan or to apply for any scholarships so good luck! There are only a few you can go for that some universities offer but don’t get too excited, the places are extremely limited and they won’t make a huge difference in the fees most of the time.

Oh and you cannot take a gap year to go travel the world if you are on a student visa because remember? You have to be studying full time. Yayy! I mean there is always Polytech but that costs around $20k per year if you aren’t a resident once again.

What if I get sick?

If you get sick, depending on your immigration situation, you won’t always be able to get insurance so a day at the hospital will cost you around $20k and a simple blood test between $150-$200. “Ouchhh” I know. Still finding it unfair? Yep me too.
So if you got seriously ill then you would probably have to give up on your studies to pay for the healthcare or give up your rent or whatever you were already investing so much money into.

Or… you could just go back home, where you came from overseas… but would you even be able to do that if you left as an infant and did all your schooling here? That’s the real question. Hint, I personally couldn’t.

Last words:

So now you know … the truth is out. Yes New Zealand is a wonderful country and even if I still go through lots of challenges regarding immigration myself, I still love it and keep being blown away by this beautiful country.

Immigration is hard but it’s a journey like any other. Think about it twice before you jump onto a plane if you’re young and adventurous… otherwise, see you in Aotearoa sometime, mate! The land of the long white cloud…

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