Studies open doors

Avni Acharya has made connections and jumped at opportunities since she began her studies here

Avni Acharya on the waterfront
Avni Acharya serving tea

About Avni

Name: Avni Acharya
Age: 21
School/institution: Le Cordon Bleu
Home city and country: Pune city, India

What was the biggest cultural difference you noticed between your home country and Wellington/New Zealand?

The age gap between people is not a deciding factor of the capabilities and opportunities you can have in New Zealand. Wellington, out of all the cities, is a perfect example of age being just a number. The culture here immediately portrayed that it's never too late to pursue your passion. Another difference was how friendly the streets of Wellington are. I felt completely safe to walk home on my own on a quiet night. Fostering a sense of belonging whether in community groups or social media pages online is actively taken care of by the residents of the city.  

What is your one top tip for someone coming to study in Wellington?

Research a bit more about the local culture (learning about Te Reo Māori language for example), arrange short-term accommodation in advance and research potential areas you’d want to reside in. In addition to that, plan and set some time aside for exploring the city on your own as Wellington has such a wonderful lifestyle and places to explore. It will also allow you to immerse yourself in the culture right off the bat.

What were your first impressions of Wellington as a city/region?

After landing in Wellington, it immediately felt like a very warm and friendly place to be. Strangers walked pass with a smile, and lively events on the waterfront introduced me to the phrase “can’t beat Wellington on a good day”. Having to figure things out on my own as an 18-year-old in an entirely unknown location was made easier with accessible information on websites like WellingtonNZ, Wellington City Council and some others that came in handy.  

What are the differences between your classes/tutors/lecturers/teacher here in Wellington compared to back home?

The assessment patterns from back home were exam-based, whereas NZQA values practical learning – which was also one of the reasons I chose to study in New Zealand. During my degree studies at Le Cordon Bleu, getting to interact with local communities and businesses offered a good exposure to the work culture in New Zealand. Lecturers often organised events from occasional field trips and interclass debate competitions to treasure hunt activities which made learning fun and memorable. There was not a huge hierarchical gap between students and tutors which is something I wasn’t exposed to before. Approaching them with doubts, having open conversations about career guidance and discussions around constructive criticism only made it simpler to progress academically.

Are you thinking of staying in Wellington after your studies to work? Why?

Wellington has been close to my heart since it became the home away from home for me. Studying here for my three-year degree, the city has taught me more and inspired me at various stages. The tight network of people, importance of mutual connections and a healthy work environment interests me to explore Wellington job opportunities after studies. New Zealand also offers a wonderful landscape for a travel head like me and allows perfect amalgamation of work-life balance.

Have you participated in any Study in Wellington programmes? If so, what were the benefits for you?

I first participated in the Work Ready sessions organised by Study in Wellington which allowed me to gather insights for preparing myself at a professional level after graduation. During this period, I got to interact with a lot of international students, a few sailing in the same boat as me, others trying to fit in and some finding answers to a lot of questions as a foreigner. After I understood the importance behind such programmes, I enrolled myself to Alumni Connect and Employer Connect Programme without hesitation. 

I matched with Vaibhav Vishen, an Alumni from my Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand and also an exceptional professional in the industry. Since I knew him from casual meet-ups at the university, meeting one-on-one through the Alumni Connect Programme was a great chance to discuss hopes and fears before completing my studies.

Guidance through catching up for coffee, sharing interesting events happening via connecting on social media platforms proved helpful for me as a student. He not only chose to mentor, but also recommended me for a job I was interested in. After going through the recruitment procedures, I was offered a letter of employment at the organisation.

Yet to graduate from my studies, I came across an internship opportunity at the Study in Wellington team at WellingtonNZ and got the role of Employer Connect Programme assistant where I got to work within a great team. Being part of Study in Wellington as an international student I was made aware of good connections through these programmes. This also added to the valuable insights I gained from being a part of the team at WellingtonNZ.

What is your favourite thing to do in Wellington?

I love how the city coasts offer a range of walkways when you are in a good mood for a hike. Always makes me feel calm and relaxed.

What is your favourite Wellington meal/place to eat?

1154 Pastaria is my all-time favourite place to have a delicious handmade pasta with a side of fresh rosemary bread to munch on with pocket friendly rates.

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