Education. A little comparison of Russian and New Zealand educational systems.

I am doing my Master’s program at Auckland University of Technologies. Not surprisingly, the system of education is completely different from Russian one.

First of all, there are 2 types of papers: core and elective. Every paper has its own number of points, and it means that to complete your program you must achieve the particular number of points. For instance, my program is 120 points, and most of my subjects have the weight of 15 points (only a couple of them are for 30 points). In sum, I have 8 subjects for 2 semesters. According to my program, there are 4 core papers (I can’t change them), and 4 papers to select up to me. Owning to this system, every student enables to follow the distinct direction in his professional field. In my case, I was able to choose subjects aimed at software development, engineering, management in IT, etc. I believe it works for mature students in motivating way, because you realized your way and your choice. As a rule, students choose subjects relevant to their job experience (by the way, for my program you can enroll only with at least 2 years of work experience in the industry). However, I am not sure how such kind of system is fine for first-year students, when most of them don’t have the complete understanding of the field.

Compare to the Russian educational system, there are no selective papers, only mandatory ones.

Further, the assessment of each paper is individual, and examination can be only a part of the final mark. The main percentages of the marks are extracted from the projects, both individual and group ones. During the first semester I had many group tasks, and I had to spend the weekends at the AUT Manukau Campus. While the second semester included more exams, but fewer group projects. One can say: “no group work, no fun!”, but as for me I was glad not to waste such enormous amount of time for group gathering and discussions, sometimes not very productive.

Speaking of the assessment system and compare it to the Russian one, I find NZ way to get marks more fair and correct. In Russia you get only the examination mark for each paper, while in NZ you work for your mark during the whole semester by submitting several assignments. If you have an exam, the points from it will be only a part of the final grade. It means, you have no availability to relax all the semester, then come to exam and pass it or not to pass; the same as you are not able to fail the paper only because you are too nervous during the exam and forget absolutely everything J

Looking forward to the graduation ceremony

Volunteering experience

After just a couple of weeks spending at the University, I realized that it is not enough for me. Language experience is not enough, classmates environment is not enough, occupancy is not enough. I mean, I should do something else except for studying. I started to think about a job.. but.. my English wasn’t perfect to find something similar to my Moscow occupation. And I decided to start searching for some volunteering opportunities. Living in Moscow I couldn’t image that it is possible to work without money! But in New Zealand it is another story.. I sent my CV to several organizations, however, I got the response only from ARMS – Auckland Regional Migrant Services. Two short interviews, and I heard that desirable phrase: “Welcome on board!”.

ARMS is a non-profit organization that operates close with Ministry of Social Development. Actually, ARMS is not a government organization, but I consider it is. They provide with range of services for migrants, mostly it is different types of support from language till law and medicine.

I used to work there for Employment Department, but it is not the main thing. As usual, it is all about people.. I met plenty of cool people there! Our team was more than multicultural: Spain, Romania, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Indonesia. Oh yeah, and our leader manager was Filipino. Great people, great environment, great place, great memories. What I got there instead of money: English improvement, networking/connections, references.

From practical point of view, I would say I worked there for references. In New Zealand it is impossible to be hired without at least local references, but the reality is even more tough. To be employed in New Zealand you must have strong networking connections. That is why it is not easy especially for newcomers. Just imagine: you come to new country, you have nobody here, you send your CV to employers and encounter the question:

-   Provide us with your local experience history and local references.

-   Hey, guys, I am an excellent technical specialist with 10+ years overseas experience and international certificates.

-   Ok, we understand, but what we really value – local experience and local references.

And in my case situation was even worse, cause I am not technical specialist with certificates J For that reason, I decided that downgrading in my career is the best option, and while I am a student (again!) I should start my New Zealand career from scratch.

Finally, my unpaid employment wasn’t just waste of time, because later I got a job offer from my manager in ARMS. She started her own business – Recruitment Agency, and invited me to help her.

Flight from Moscow to Auckland

One funny joke was popular throughout Russian web: “There are 3 exits from existing situation: Domodedovo, Sheremet’vo, Vnukovo” (3 main Moscow airports). So J I chose Domodedovo J My flight was by Emirates Airlines, and it must be at 1.05 am on 14.02.2013, but airlines’ representative called me in the evening and announced about Moscow-Dubai flight delay for about 5 hours. It meant that I missed my next flight from Dubai to Auckland. Nice start! J In brief, my first flight was at 6 am from Moscow to Dubai, then in Dubai I spent one day/one night, then I had flight from Dubai to Melbourne, where 2-hours stopover was, and, finally, it was the last flight from Melbourne to Auckland.

In Moscow airport I expected the worst emotions from custom officers, because usually they are extremely unfriendly. However, the custom guy was pretty amicable. We had pleasant short conversation:

-   Wow, you are going to New Zealand, aren’t you?

-   Exactly.

-   (Checking my student visa) What are going to study?

-   IT.

-   Hmmm.. IT in New Zealand, sounds strange. I thought, something about ecology is more appropriate for New Zealand. Anyway, good luck!

I am really thankful for that nice guy and his agreeable mood, because it was one of my last memorable moments in Russia.

I wouldn’t like to remember my Moscow-Dubai flight. It is just enough to say that the plane was full of drunk rude loud Russian persons. I only wished the flight finished as soon as possible, and all this nightmare would finished at all for me. I had only one thought: “God, thank you, I am leaving that country!”. I cant even describe how awful I felt myself during those 5 hours.

In Dubai I spent about 20 hours, and my deals consisted only from meal time and sleeping time J The flight from Dubai to Melbourne was the longest one, but it was more pleasant due to changed background of people (no Russians..). And the same about my last flight from Australia to New Zealand. I cant say that at the moment of plane landing or my coming out from the Auckland airport I had some “special” emotions, something like “Ann, welcome to home!” or “Finally, I am in NZ!”  No :) Just usual airport, as in Australia, in the UK. Nice people. Warm weather. Clear air.

How it all has started..

Today is a day, when I mark exactly 6 months, while I have been living in Auckland. My flight from Moscow to Auckland has been lasting from 14.02.2013 till 16.02.2013, and now I am here..

During all this time I have been asked constantly by plenty of people: “Why New Zealand?”.. Well.. Honestly, I still don’t know the answer for this question. Really.. I can’t explain why I chose New Zealand. Yes, I can tell about migration policy, cost of living and so on and so forth, but actually I don’t remember that day, when I woke up with the thought: “Let’s move to New Zealand!”.

I only know exactly that the roots of this decision are in family and friends’ migration stories. The fact of migration from Russia is not a nonsense among my acquaintances, I even would say it is a normal way of life. One part of my family is located in Austria, while another one is in Indonesia, and at the same time my friends, acquaintances and ex-colleagues are spread all over the world: Norway, Netherlands, Italy, USA, UK, Australia. That is why the decision of leaving Moscow wasn’t spontaneous, and maybe the most acceptable answer for that question “Why New Zealand?” might be “Why not? …”.

The second phrase I heard plenty of times during my first months here was “Welcome to New Zealand!”. Everywhere.. absolutely everywhere, in Uni, in banks, in post offices, if someone noticed that I had just arrived in Auckland, he congratulated me and welcomed with a smile. Compared to Russia, where people are not so friendly, especially to newcomers, for me it was unusual and surprisingly.

So.. What has happened during this half a year.

  1. Uni. I have completed the first semester at Uni.
  2. ARMS. I got volunteered experience, the first local work experience! (read more…)
  3. Carnie Recruitment Agency. I have started to work for Lulette’s new business.

I would say, not bad! One more important point, I met lots of wonderful people. Thanks to Urban café!.

In general, I don’t regret leaving Russia, and I know it was 100% right decision. You know, don’t make the right decisions, make the decisions right. However, that choice even needn’t made right J I can’t predict all consequences for the future, but what I know for sure, my life has changed significantly, and has become so delightful and pleasant that it just couldn’t be in Moscow.  I have left all troubles and problems in Russia that just didn’t allow me to breathe deeply. Certainly, New Zealand and the whole migration process imply plenty of difficulties. Let’s see, how I will cope with all of them..

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