By Pauline Stewart.
International students important to Mercury Bay - By Marie Wilson
“Our international students are very much appreciative that Whitianga welcomes their presence in our small town. I know that their presence is important to our school and to our whole
community. They enrich our lives as I believe spending this time in our community enriches their lives. Mercury Bay Area School is looking for home-stays from late January 2024 for mainly two terms- February to July. These students are from Germany and Switzerland, aged 16-18 years and will be in Years 11-13 at college. With the group booked to come, there are six females and five males. At the end of their term(s) here, a lot of the parents come to meet their son or daughter and make it a holiday time, and some of them plan trips around the country after the term here is finished. Requirements: What we ask from our home-stays is to provide a safe, comfortable home, where the students are welcomed and cared for as part of the family. Family members over 18 years are required to be police vetted. We provide excellent remuneration @ $315 per week. Marie Wilson’s is the Director of international students at MBAS Mob: 022 613 4049 or email email@example.com MBAS school number: 07 866 5916 for application pack.
The informer spent some time with a gathering of the current group of international students where they reflected on their time of being at MBAS and experiencing Whitianga community.
Marlene P – “The school system is quite different here. It can be challenging Some aspects of the school life are more relaxed and you have more time for your project work. You actually have that time in class, so you don’t have to do so much at home.”
Mala - “It’s nice to have hands on subjects such as woodwork. It’s really cool and we don’t have that back home. It’s very relaxed here.”
“About understanding English. We learn it as we go by talking to people. School is much easier for me. Back in my home country, I have 15 subjects, whereas here I have six.
Here you get to do things by yourself. Back home, you are provided with the work you have to do.”
“Yes, the work - It’s much easier. Chemistry and Biology are more challenging because the names of things are in English and not familiar so that is more difficult but mostly it’s easier.
My English has improved a lot.”
Mala - The German school system is very old school and has not really adapted much over the last few years. The New Zealand situation is focussing on the student. When you get taught English here the people talking to us are speaking very differently to what we have learned.
There are slang words we don’t know. For example, the word ‘bloody’. I would never have known the word ‘bloody’ means what it does.”
Christian - “I think the subjects are mostly easier. But it is the vocabulary for specific aspects of Chemistry and Bio which we did not learn before we came which make it difficult, but soon we understand it.”
Carla G - “In general in Switzerland, the teachers just have to get their work done; they don’t share themselves. But here the teachers are open, and they are friendly, and they care about the people that we are.”
Mia - “The class size is definitely smaller than where I live. The whole style of education seems to be more student-focussed learning. Teachers have time to go to each student.”
Christian - “In choosing New Zealand, for me it was the lifestyle - for the surfing lifestyle and also for the rugby, you have to go to an English-speaking country.”
Leonie – “For me, the decision to come here was the school system. My parents helped me decide where I wanted to go. You can choose you own subjects here and there are subjects like dancing that I don’t have in Germany. It’s a new experience and really great fun.”
Carla B - “The nature and the ecosystem is also a part of it. It’s important to choose which school to go to rather than the country. We are quite aware that this is a small town, and that some activities can’t happen.”
Mala - “The transport is difficult here. In Hamburg, I can go anywhere. There is transport to everywhere. For everything I do here, I have to get my host family to pick me up. The independence isn’t there anymore. It has had a major influence on what sport I can do. The distances are great but no way to get there by yourself.”
“It is unlucky about the transport. In Germany and Switzerland, you can go anywhere.
I want to walk, but my host family is worried that it is not safe or it’s too far.”
“To be able to drive here in New Zealand is really more important. Kiwis our age all want to drive and get a licence. You don’t need to be able to drive at my age where I come from. There is transport all the time. (As international students attending college, they aren’t allowed to drive.)
Carla B - “But we think it is so beautiful, even if I am just here two weeks. I would say this.
It. Is hard to be able to come here again, it is such a long way. But a lot of us are feeling so connected, that we are willing to come back.”
Marlene P - (Marlene is the only one of the international students doing NCEA) - “I do it for the challenge. My coming here was a big challenge for me and I don’t want to go back and have nothing achieved. I will do this (complete NCEA) then I will go back and finish at my school.”
“For me it was a break. German school is very stressful. With Covid, I needed a year to calm down and get myself together and learn to deal with stress and everything that comes in life as a student.”
Caption for photo: Back row from left: Dorian Ramos, Marlene Martin, Christian Weis, Lotta Kohler, Carla Gutsche, Carla Burkhard, Finn Utke, Marlene Pfenning.
Front row from left: Frieda Kiok, Mia Compagnoni, Mayla Ziegler, Marie Wilson (International
Students Director), Leonie Boehmig, Mala Dommes.