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Student story

Ai Nee Looi

20 July 2023

"Tupu’s facilities are top-notch..."


Studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance, and Taxation and Accounting

What has been your most valuable experience from study so far?

As I am passionate about volunteering, standing up for youth, and making a change in the community, I currently serve as the National Treasurer for the NZ International Students’ Association. I strongly believe everyone is eligible and capable of voicing out and standing up for themselves and their community.

Coming from a developing country where youth voice is still not being heard and with lack of youth participation, I find all the opportunities and lessons I have learnt here in Aotearoa so, so valuable, therefore, I would like to take this chance to inspire other rangatahi and young women to bravely stand up for themselves and make a change. I cannot emphasise enough how we, as youths or even international students, should be confident and empowered to speak our mind and stand up for our community.

You also got to be a part of EY New Zealand’s Career Compass Programme – what did you learn from this?

As part of my mentorship and after emerging as their 2020 New Zealand and Overall Oceania winning team, I have gained an insight into what it is like to work in a tax team and the day-to-day tasks of a tax consultant. I am confident that I am ready to learn more about taxation, particularly Transfer Pricing, which I have a huge interest in.

What made you choose Tupuānuku hall of residence to spend your first years of study?

Tupu’s facilities are top-notch (feels like a hotel honestly) and I love how the RAs run weekly activities! They even charter busses to bring students to the Sunday Market, Ice-Skating Rink, Hanmer Springs, etc (yes, that’s the extent Tupu goes, which is amazing!). Tupu’s staff are also helpful and the community is friendly and diverse.

Since you were an international student under 18 when you first arrived here, how was it settling in?

Leaving home was never a hard thing but I find making friends tough due to the difference in culture and humour. Last year I struggled to make any Kiwi friends and thus I set goals for myself at the start of the year. The goals for this year are to throw myself out there, accept everything with an open mind, and experience new things.

As I kept to my goals as much as possible, I find that making Kiwi friends is actually not that tough and that Kiwis are genuinely easy to mix with, especially at parties, hahaha!

And that’s why you’re so involved on campus now! From being a Student Mentor, to being on the exec teams for Student Volunteer Army and UC Global Society, and being on the UCSA International Advisory Group Committee.

The club scene here is fantastic, and people here are genuinely caring and friendly so overall, it has a better uni vibe than other universities in New Zealand.

The IRO and UC Business School have also been really kind and caring in terms of looking out for my wellbeing and presenting me, especially as an international student, with heaps of opportunities. Not forgetting the Student Experience Team that did a fantastic job in checking up with me every term until I turned 18. They even called home to assure my parents that I am doing alright here in New Zealand.

So what do you recommend for other students arriving in New Zealand and living in a university hall for the first time?

Be prepared to be surrounded by a lot more people (unless you went to a boarding school) and be aware that you are solely responsible for your own behaviour. Parents are not around anymore so you will have to do your own laundry, keep your room clean, and abide to hall rules (not your house!).

Other than that, hall life is pretty fun! Your neighbours are your friends and you can easily do anything (study, watch a movie, cook, eat) together.

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