Introduction to NZ
Kiwis, as a whole, are very friendly and very welcoming to visitors and new residents and most often treat everyone in a fair and egalitarian manner without regard to race, religion, social or economic background.
Generally Kiwis greet by shaking hands and occasionally giving hugs mainly to close friends or family. Some Kiwis particularly Maoris greet male and female visitors by shaking hands and touching noses. In the past, Muslims who did not feel comfortable greeting females that way have politely declined doing so, and the Maoris were comfortable with the reasons provided.
Most Kiwis eat three meals a day; however, during the weekdays, breakfast and lunch tend to be rushed and lighter meals, and teenagers and adults often prepare their own. Breakfast may consist of toast; eggs, cereal, juice or milk while lunch will likely be sandwiches, vegetables, fruit and a drink. It is not uncommon for a microwave oven to be used in preparation of the food. Evening and weekend meals tend to be heavier and are usually spent together at the dining table. Such meals will provide a good opportunity for a home stay student to not only practice English, but also to get to know his or her host family and to start to build positive lasting relationships. As the new Zealand diet may be different from what a Muslim is accustom to and some of the ingredients in the meal may not be Halal, a home stay student should not feel shy to inquire about the Halal status of the ingredients, as Kiwis are quite accommodating and would not find that behaviour offensive.
There is minimal separation of the sexes in the public and home environments, and in fact, men and women interact comfortably on a regular basis. It is not uncommon to see women in positions of authority at all levels of society. As an example, the current Prime Minister of New Zealand is female. The women in authority are treated with the same respect as men in similar situations.
As Kiwis tend to be warm and welcoming to people they meet, you should not mistake an offer of friendship from a female as an offer of invitation for sexual advances from you. Just because a female is expressive toward you, for example smiling at you, touching your arm or offering help with an assignment after class, does not mean she is attracted to you or inviting attention from you in any physical or sexual way. You must be careful not to confuse kindness that a Kiwi woman would show to any individual whether male or female, as an invitation for more intimate contact. Similarly, you may notice that women dress is a less modest fashion than you are accustomed to in your country, but you should not interpret this as an indication of promiscuity. In New Zealand, it is culturally acceptable and common to see woman wearing close-fitted skirts above their knees and open blouses that expose much of their neck and their arms. You should recognize such dress as being within societal standards and not an outright invitation for attention from you.
The New Zealand Education System
New Zealand has a reputation as a provider of quality education and a socially and politically safe environment to study in. A wide range of courses are available for academic, professional and vocational studies at universities, polytechnics, colleges, secondary schools and private training institutions.
Some courses with restricted entry require better marks. Most universities, polytechnics and institutes of technology also require a demonstration of English language proficiency such as an IELTS mark of 6.0 or higher, or a minimum TOEFL score of 550. If students acquired a lower mark, he/she will need to study at an English language centre to enhance his/her English language abilities and will therefore be able to obtain a higher mark in the TOEFL or IELTS examination.
For entry to tertiary education institutions, 13 years of education are required, thus International Baccalaureate, A-levels, CBSC or high SAT1/SAT2 results will allow direct entry to university. If you are a high school graduate with 12 years of education i.e. Secondary School Certificate or Tawjeehiya, you will need to enrol for a foundation year. Most universities prepare students for this year themselves; however, some have affiliated colleges run the programme for them.
There are eight universities that provide bachelor degrees, Masters and PhDs in 3000 programmes.