Jennifer's graduation day

Our most recent university graduate: Languages International student, Jennifer Colombel, on her AUT university graduation day.

Your goal of getting into a NZ university doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. Even if English isn’t your 1st language, with the right help, you can get into the university of your choice and greatly increase your chances of graduating successfully.

Back in 2008, Tahitian student, Jennifer Colombel, came to Languages International to prepare for university in New Zealand. Last week, she graduated from AUT university.

Jennifer’s teacher at Languages International, Tom Lusk, remembers her well. “Jennifer was an exceptionally hard working student who was always good humoured and supportive of her classmates. I helped her prepare for the IELTS exam before she went to AUT, and I remember that she never missed a lesson and always submitted homework on time and to a very high standard. She also spent a lot of time doing extra study in the school Learning Centre. Jennifer’s attitude and excellent work ethic will stand her in good stead in her future employment. I’m very pleased to hear she has graduated from AUT and wish her all the best.” he says.

This week I interviewed Jennifer about the road leading up to graduation to find out the secrets to her success.  Here’s her story…

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and why you decided to take an English course abroad?

Where do I start…I was born in France, but if you ask me where I am from, I will tell you that I am from Tahiti (where I grew up, and where my family is from. Well… sort of). Tahiti is only a 6-hour flight to New Zealand; it is this beautiful island with this beautiful culture, or should I say cultures, and let’s not forget the food (the national dish: raw tuna with lime juice and coconut milk… delicious). After graduating from high school in June 2008 with an Economics and Social Sciences Baccalaureate with Honors, I decided to further my studies in New Zealand. Towards the end of high school, I started searching the Internet for information about courses and Universities in Auckland, I found out that the IELTS was a requirement for international students when applying to University.

Why did you choose NZ?

I have always loved New Zealand, since I was 2 I would come here at least once a year to visit family. At 18, I felt like I needed to get out of Tahiti in order to see life from a different angle and discover new things, new people, other cultures. The Kiwi lifestyle appealed to me, and the fact that New Zealand was so close to Tahiti helped as well in the decision-making process.

Why did you choose Languages International?

I first heard about Languages International (or L.I, as we like to call it) in a brochure I got from Air New Zealand. As I flicked through the pages, I started to feel the excitement of coming to NZ. I then went on L.I.’s website and read again and again about L.I. Auckland, I loved the photos and the fact that it was right next to this beautiful park (Albert Park). Above all of the English schools in Auckland, I knew that I would just love Languages International, and I was right.

What is Languages International like?

My journey at Languages International started in September 2008. Spring had just arrived, and every morning on my way to L.I.. I would walk by Albert Park, and I was just standing there amazed. Flowers were blooming, the air was pure and fresh, all of that while being in the CBD!

What I loved the most about Languages International though was the people I met there, from students to teachers. I met some incredible people there, we quickly became close as we spent quite a lot of time together at school as well as outside of school. L.I.’s social program also helped in the process of getting to know each other better (and winning that pub quizz was quite a good feeling as well!).

I also loved that we were all from different countries, different cultures. I made some awesome friends from South Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil and the list goes on. We all learned from each other; we shared our experiences and our differences. The atmosphere at Languages International was always cheerful, and I think that this made it even easier to learn and study. I need to credit the teachers for this wonderful learning environment (in class and at the learning center), where help was provided if needed.

What is NZ like?

It is a wonderful country, and someday I would love to travel and visit both islands from end to end. I know that there are so many beautiful places out there to visit, places that may not be advertised but that you have to discover yourself in order to enjoy the true beauty of New Zealand.

There are so many things I like about NZ… Oh, how could I forget… The ALL BLACKS! I’ve always been an All Blacks fan, I even left an exam half way through it back in high school during the RWC 2007 to watch the All Blacks vs France match. I cried when we lost. 4 years later I was here in New Zealand, watching the RWC 2011 Opening Ceremony the Kiwi way, in a bar on the waterfront! I was so proud to be here, so proud to be a part of this, no need to mention my tears of joy when the All Blacks won!

How did your course at Languages International help you get into university?

My course at L.I. helped me get the score I needed for my IELTS. Tom, our IELTS teacher, was this awesome, funny teacher who we could have a really good laugh with and discuss everything from fishing to “small villages”. Tom is a very competent and professional teacher, and when it came to the IELTS exam, he trained and prepared us for it fully, leaving nothing aside.

How did your course at Languages International help you succeed at university?

Because English is taught from 11 to 17 in Tahiti, I arrived in New Zealand with a fairly good English level. However, the thought of having University lectures only in English made me nervous, even more so as the tertiary system was new to me. My time at Languages International gave me the confidence that I lacked for University, and some important vocabulary for business courses that helped me throughout my years at AUT.

What did you study at university?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the drawing talent that some people have, therefore, I wasn’t a good candidate for Architecture. (I used to dream of becoming an architect; I have a lot of respect for their work and their ideas. Some are truly brilliant and mind-blowing).

I studied a Bachelor of Business with an International Business major at AUT University. I think that my interest for International Business grew even more when I was at Languages International. Being surrounded by people from all over the world really changed me, in the best possible way. I wanted to learn more about how business was done on an international scale. It was important for me to get that knowledge and thorough understanding of the international market, the different cultures and practices in order to open the gates to the international arena.

What are your plans for the future?

I would love a job where I could grow with the company I am working for and help it grow as well, extend my knowledge and keep learning. Learning is so important and brings so much to one’s life. Lately I am leaning towards the tourism industry. It is, however, a bit of a challenge as I need to get more experience. I will continue to apply my winning method: work hard, believe in what I want and what I do, keep learning, challenge myself, work harder, and someday soon it will all be worth it.

I am planning on living in New Zealand, for at least a couple of years. I would further my studies if I could, but as for now, being an International Student is becoming a little too expensive. As I said before and I will say it again, the learning never ends. However, I do believe that I need to get some professional experience before going further. This is only a project for now, but I am considering having my own enterprise in the future.  This would be the ultimate result of my determination.

What’s your advice for someone thinking about coming to NZ to study English and/or go to university?

I’ve been asked quite a few times about English schools in Auckland, and my answers always have the same message: I sincerely believe that Languages International Auckland is the best English school in the city, I had the BEST time ever there. After almost 4 years, I still remember my 8 weeks at L.I. like it was yesterday. I even get excited when someone I meet tells me that they go to or went to L.I.

As for University, I would recommend that International Students think it through and weigh the pros and cons before choosing to study in New Zealand.  Studying here does have a big financial cost, and one should be very aware of that before making the move. If they do make the move, I would tell them to go with AUT University; classes are smaller, and as a student you will feel involved and valued which is super important. Now, studying in New Zealand is not only about studying, but living here too, and you will be charmed by this country. Besides, where else in the world can you have four seasons in one day?

You can follow Jennifer on Twitter.

Find out how Languages International can help you succeed at university.  Email us or call us – we’re friendly!