Where are you from?
I am Italian, from a town called Fidenza, in the Parma province. A lovely, slow-paced and typically Italian place: beautiful countryside, artistic beauties, friendly people and great food.
How long will you be in Wellington for?
That mostly depends on future career opportunities. At least for another two years, but hopefully longer than that.
What did you come to Wellington to study?
I came to New Zealand to do a PhD in Film at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). I thought it would be intellectually engaging to apply my academic background in History and Archival Research to Film Studies. I wrote a research project that combined these two fields of studies, I was awarded a three-year scholarship and I moved to Wellington in July 2014.
Did you complete a Work Ready programme? If so, what did you find most valuable about the programme?
I completed the Work Ready Programme in 2017, a few months before submitting my PhD thesis. I found it very useful for two reasons. First of all, I learnt more about the cultural differences between my home country and New Zealand. Since the way we communicate and express ourselves changes according to our cultural background, we might find it difficult to adjust to a different cultural environment. So, it was very useful to learn what behaviours are considered appropriate or inappropriate in a New Zealand workplace. Secondly, I was given good advice about job applications and job hunting in Wellington.
Would you recommend Studying in Wellington to other international students? Why?
Yes, I would recommend studying in Wellington. First of all, the quality of tertiary education is excellent and my PhD experience at VUW was very positive. Moreover, besides being a city that offers a variety of excellent cultural options and is home to a multicultural community, it still has a charming, slow-paced and relaxing atmosphere that makes it very attractive. It’s not too big nor too overwhelming, it’s easy to get around and it’s safe. From what I’ve seen so far, no other city in New Zealand or Australia has this perfect balance and blend between the quality of life and scenic attractions: Wellington – its bays, its harbour, its beaches, its suburbs, its waterfront, its green rolling hills - is actually a place of stunning beauty.
Top three things you would recommend other students to try out while they are here in Wellington
- Nightlife and restaurants: Even though Wellington is not big compared to other capital cities, it has a huge number of bars, pubs and clubs in proportion to its size. I am a food-lover and in Wellington, I had the chance to try cuisines from all over the world. If you’re into beers, this is a special place, where you can find a big variety of excellent locally brewed craft beers. I always have a great time here going out on Fridays and Saturdays night.
- Cinemas: Movie theatres here are incredibly beautiful. There’s a thriving film culture in Wellington. I suggest to ‘try’ them all, the ones in the city centre such as the Embassy Theatre and the Lighthouse Cuba but also the ones in the suburbs. When I arrived here four years ago, going to cinemas like Roxy, Penthouse or Empire was also an excuse to explore Miramar, Brooklyn and Island Bay.
- Suburbs: Every suburb has a different character and a different vibe here. Going around in Wellington is easy, public transport works very well. From the city centre, you can easily get anywhere by bus or train. Newtown has a vibrant multicultural atmosphere and plenty of ethnic restaurants; Island Bay is a place of great scenic beauty; Seatoun, Owhiro Bay, Houghton Bay and Breaker Bay are beautiful, quiet coastal suburb, perfect for long walks; Aro Valley is mainly populated by students and has a non-conformist vibe; in coastal Petone you’ll find a huge beach and plenty of restaurants, bars and pubs all along Jackson Street.
Have you had any opportunities to connect you with the workforce?
I have been working at Victoria University as a Teaching Assistant and Guest Lecturer in the Film Programme for three years. After attending Work Ready in Wellington I was selected for a WREDA Workplace Internship, where I am working in the International Student Growth Programme. This is a very important opportunity for me to understand New Zealand work environments and to gain firsthand experience in Wellington job market.
Would you say Wellington is a safe city?
Overall it is a very safe city compared to the vast majority of other capital cities. Wellington is the kind of place where you can go around at night always feeling reasonably safe.
Where are you staying while you are here? Was this easy to organise?
In these four years I have been living in different suburbs, each one with its own distinctive character and personality: Thorndon, Mount Victoria and Crofton Downs. Sometimes it took a while to find suitable accommodation, I had to view several flats in a number of different areas. It is easier to look for accommodation when most of the students are not in town, let’s say from the end of November to the first half of February.
Anything else you’d like to say about studying here in Wellington?
I feel Wellington has gradually become a second hometown to me. As a deeply-rooted and old school Italian, I thought it wouldn’t be possible to feel perfectly comfortable anywhere else in the world, but Wellington proved me wrong.