Settling down in a new country is not easy, but not as difficult as you think it is. Well-known as its environment friendly, New Zealand is very supportive when it comes to migrants settlement. There is a service called Settlement Support that's very active to help migrants settle quickly and integrate better. There are also some activities coordinated such as migrant's focus group discussion, education seminar, treaty of Waitangi Day, and many other events.
Last week I attended an interesting seminar about cross cultural life in New Zealand. The speaker is a migrant himself which I think is more interesting to hear from a non Kiwi's perspective.
Some of the interesting points that I highlight are :
- Work life balance
This is so true. When I first time working at the Ministry of Education, we were given a tour around the building and the supervisor told me about shower area on each floor. But how can shower balance your life and work!? Hold on there, my manager, instead of eating, he takes his 30 minutes lunch break to run (for 23 minutes along the Oriental Parade) and 7 other minutes to shower. Hmm... Get my point? Yes. No matter how hard Kiwis work, they always try to balance it out either with sport, family, or local activities
- Straight forward people
Don't be scared if you suddenly hear 2 people arguing about something. Or if you get told off about a mistake you accidentally did . They're not angry with you. That's just how Kiwis are, pretty straightforward. Even though a South African lady once mentioned to me how long Kiwis spend their time to talk before getting to the real point.
- Relaxed people
Despite being straightforward, Kiwis are mostly relaxed and very friendly people. Great thing about working here is you don't have to be super duper polite to your manager or boss. They're pretty casual, and having chat in the middle of work is very common. You can talk about sport, weather (the most talk able topic, especially in Wellington, since the weather changes so quickly), food, weekends, etc
- Random act kindness
My workmate suddenly offered me a coffee which being given to her by a friend that's just been in Bali (how's that not confusing?) Anyway, even though that's a bit confusing, and I didn't drink the coffee, that's very nice of her. Another work mate made us 4th July Independence day of America cupcakes. Very sweet, and nice :)
- Equality (regardless age, ethnicity, etc)
If you're a migrant and you're being treated differently, you can sue that person! It's illegal to treat people different here. It also applies when you're applying for jobs or send your CV, take out your gender, age, picture, ethnicity, and religion. Kiwis don't want to know, and they don't need to know! :) One good example is when I was at my bank, and saw a very big giant teller working there, which less likely to happen in Jakarta. Employers are very fair here no matter how big or obese you are
No matter how friendly, open, relaxed, and positive they are. Privacy is number one. Asking their age directly is a big no no,especially in a formal environment. Except if you feel close to someone
The meaning of teamwork for Kiwi is : achieving goals together. So if my team can do the work, let's say, 100, I'm not supposed to do 150. Let's do it all 100 together. Kiwis don't like stand out people! Some of you (especially coming from South East Asia) might be real confused about it. We were taught, told, and mentored to work your ass real hard. I once thought that I gotta work even harder when I'm overseas. But the reality is : Kiwis like people who can balance their life. If your work time is until 5 o'clock, don't stay out much more than that or people will call you : -w-e-i-r-d-o-.
- Try not to mention how great you are
It's a big no no. No matter how spectacular the machine that you invented, just tell your family back at home that you are great (I am actually exaggerating :p). Well, the point is, if in your country you're being told to stand out and shine, you need to tone down a little bit here
- Trust is given directly, respect needs to be earned
I know. It's a bit weird. But it is what it is. People trust people easily here. But once you break that trust.... You know the answer.
- Fight your rights
Probably it's part of being in a smaller community as well. If you are a customer, you have the right to be treated well with friendliness. If someone treats you bad, you have the right to talk to the supervisor. And it applies to many different aspects.
- Work environment is like a family
This one is a good insight of you who are looking for jobs (Kiwis like to say experience or opportunities rather than jobs). You will be at work for 8 hours, which is a quarter time of your daily life with your team. They don't want workaholic people who they can't talk to. They want someone who's fun to work with, collaborate with, and hang out with. That's why putting a “good sense of humour” on the job advertisements are very common here
- Important to have a Kiwi experience
Another tips for a job seeker. It doesn't literally mean that you have to work in a Kiwi pack fruit. It means that at least, we know how Kiwis work, how organisations work, how people deal, how people start their day with chatting, etc. You can do volunteer (see Volunteer Wellington), get involved in different activities and communities.
- Industrial certification is important
Even if you have 10 titles in PhD : they don't care. Well, it actually depends on the industry (surely PhD's important for university tutors). But most of the time, Kiwis like more practical degree such as English teaching, computer skills, languages, nursing, cooking, etc etc
- Drinking Friday! :)
I guess that's all for now.. It's been several months and I've been enjoying my journey in this Coolest Little Capital in the World, quoted by the Lonely Planet. To finish my article, here's a nice saying that I've just read :
“Good settlement is a two-way process. Newcomers need to be resourceful and adapt to new circumstances and host communities need to be welcoming and ready to offer practical support”
Enjoy your sunnnnny day! :-)