Super by name, Super by nature
Langchao “Super” Zhang really does have a role tailor-made to her background and experience as a former international student to New Zealand.
For the past 10 years she has been an enrolments adviser for international students at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), providing the perfect level of knowledge and insight for students considering Nelson as a study destination.
Super, a literal English translation of chao, arrived in New Zealand in 2008 through an established partnership between her university, Software Engineering Institute of Guangzhou (SEIG) and NMIT. She traded Guangzhou, population almost 14 million, for Nelson, population 59,000.
“I was able to complete my Diploma in Logistics and Supply Chain Management in China and then come to New Zealand to complete my Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in management. Many of my completed courses were cross-credited, which meant I only had to study for one year.”
The oldest of four children, her parents backed her financially to come to New Zealand to study. “While it is quite common now for Chinese students to consider an international education, 14 years ago studying abroad was a luxury experience.”
Lucky to study in New Zealand
“I was the lucky one to study overseas,” she says.
My education experience in New Zealand was phenomenal.
"I received tremendous support not only from NMIT but also from the local community. I wouldn’t have made it this far without that support.”
Super admits she had to work hard at English when she first arrived and was grateful for the English lessons and learning support she received at NMIT.
The teaching and learning methods were quite different from what she was used to in China. “Here you need to demonstrate critical thinking and come to your own conclusions from your research. It was a learning curve for me.” she says.
“One of our first assignments involved visiting a local business. I was shocked that we actually had to speak to someone in business to complete the assignment. Luckily it was a group assignment, and the local students were very helpful.”
After a couple of years working in the local hospitality scene on her post-study work visa, the job at NMIT came up. With her background as an international student, fluency in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English, and New Zealand residency secured, she was the perfect fit.
“It has been an amazing experience. I am a former student who is now working at NMIT. The staff are pleased, and I feel I have much to offer.”
In her role, Super is on the frontline processing international enrolment applications. “I really enjoy advising and supporting other international students. I know what kinds of questions they will ask and can offer reassurance. I tell them there is so much support available to ensure they achieve their goals.”
Advice for international students
Her advice to international students is to do plenty of research about what a New Zealand education can offer and to formulate a clear study pathway to meet their goals. “I tell them it is friendly and affordable, but you still need to budget carefully. I say that they will get a world-class education at NZQA-accredited institutions.”
Super remembers how excited she was to be coming to study in New Zealand. “If I hadn’t come, I would just have had a normal life in China but since I came here my life has become much more interesting. I have grown in my abilities and experiences to become a better person and to enjoy a good quality of life.”
Now married and with two boys aged four and almost two, Super says her life is much less pressured than it would have been in China. She is able to work part-time and has returned to study, with an eye to the future. This time she is studying for her Certificate in Accounting Support. “I am so lucky to be able balance work and family commitments.”
Super and her whānau call Nelson home now. Working at NMIT has also become a bit of a family affair, with her husband working in Business Support for the China partnership and her brother-in-law joining them four years ago and now working in IT Support, both having earned New Zealand qualifications.
“In Nelson, we have been treated so well and there is a real sense of manaakitanga (kindness and respect). I have only encountered caring people.”
“Studying in New Zealand has been a rewarding experience. It really has been super.”