Where did you grow up, and why did you decide to come to New Zealand?
I grew up in India, and I didn’t want to stay there. All my friends were going to different countries, and I wanted to go too. I thought about moving to Canada as an option, and Australia as an option – New Zealand was not even on the list.
In the end, Canada and Australia didn’t work out for me, which is when a friend suggested New Zealand. It was close to Australia, and I could travel over there easily if I wanted to, so I decided to apply. I knew nothing else about New Zealand at the time!
After arriving, I realised that it was the best decision I could have made. New Zealand is a great place for lazy people who want to take good photos – anywhere you go, there’ll be a beautiful photography spot! You don’t have to drive very far to get to the beach, or go surfing, or almost anything you want to do.
How did you hear about the IELTS test?
I knew I had to take an English language proficiency test to work in another country, and IELTS was the best option.
Throughout my education, I’ve been taught in English, but the test still wasn’t easy. The English we speak in India is different to the English spoken in New Zealand – the words are the same, but the pronunciation, accent, and the way words are used are different.
I thought I’d be able to pass easily but still decided to study for the test. I did a 30-day crash course with a group of friends, and it turned out that I was really bad at the listening part. I got the worst scores ever during our practice tests!
But because I practiced beforehand, I was able to pass the actual test. Practising meant that there were no surprises.
What was your first experience of New Zealand like?
It was completely new. I hadn’t travelled outside of India before, and I was really excited. I didn’t know anyone here.
It took me two days to adjust to the time difference. I came a month before my course started, so I had a month to get used to New Zealand. I used the month to travel a lot and then kept travelling during my first six months.
The hardest thing was not having my friends. I used to spend a lot of time with friends back in India, and I only knew about four or five people in New Zealand for my first few months. But after that, I met more friends, and we have a lot of fun together.
How did the test help you prepare for life and work in New Zealand?
When I came to New Zealand, I managed to find a job in about a week with the help of a flatmate, who gave me a good reference. Everything was sorted within a week, including getting an IRD number, so I could start straight away.
If I hadn’t taken the IELTS test, I would have struggled more with communication. The English I spoke back home was not up to the mark, and I would have had trouble having conversations. Taking the test meant that I had to listen to different accents, and that helped me understand English beyond the Indian-accent English I was used to.
The IELTS test was a huge help in preparing to speak English with other people in other countries.
What do you do now?
I work as a project manager in a construction company. That’s my day job. I also work as a DJ, a photographer, and an actor – I’ve even won awards for my photos and acting.
Coming to New Zealand helped me in my career beyond study, because it gave me a chance to pursue my interests. It would be tough for me to get into acting or photography to a good level in India. If I didn’t come to New Zealand, I don’t think I’d be where I am today with my work.
Do you have any advice for people who want to take the IELTS?
Yes, actually! I did a course with friends, but at the time I didn’t take it seriously. I thought I just needed the test results to work in a different country. But when I started practising for the test, I realised I needed to make it my main focus.
If you want to take the IELTS, I suggest you make it your main focus as well. It’ll definitely have a huge impact once you move to a new country.