A++ student shares the secrets to his success

WEB Alex Wang in Northland

Alex Wang considers himself a ‘Chiwi’ after immersing himself in New Zealand culture for three years

Four years ago, Alex Wang was tired, overworked and stressed out. Having recently graduated as a nurse, he spent his days and nights staffing the emergency department of a crowded Beijing hospital. However, the huge volume of patients he saw made him yearn for change.

“One day I just thought ‘I’m still young. I want to go out and see the world’. I thought about New Zealand because the first foreigner I’d ever met was a Kiwi and I’d had a really good impression. I thought that was how all New Zealanders were – friendly.”

Alex applied to study English at Wintec and came over in 2016.   

“New Zealand was a very different environment to what I knew in China – do you know how many people live in Beijing? 22 million! Hamilton seemed like a small town but everyone has been so friendly and easy to talk to. The people make all the difference.”

Arriving mid-semester, Alex worked hard to catch up to his peers.

“I just felt like I could not let my parents down.  My Dad had been 100 percent supportive of me coming here but my Mum was more like 50/50 about me going so far away.  My English tutors offered me a lot of help and support.  It was only after her encouragement that I sat and passed my English tests.”

After finishing his English course, Alex decided to re-study nursing because he felt like there was a lot New Zealand could teach him.

“What I liked is that in New Zealand you can get to know your patients. This makes a big difference to patients and their families especially because they are under a lot of pressure.”

He achieved his first A++ in semester five and then reached the same marks for every assignment after that for the duration of the course.  His tips for achieving success? Careful reading.

“My advice is to read a lot for each assignment. Find out what the tutor wants, read the assignment rubric, analyse every part of the assignment question word by word.

“The more you read and write, the better understanding you will have of APA referencing. When you study nursing, you need to understand why you are doing what you are doing for example, why are you making a care plan? You need to look at the detail in everything.”

“Another tip is to complete assignments before their deadline – maybe two weeks before they are due. Don’t delay it as you must do it sooner or later and when you get it done you will feel really good as it’s such a relief!

“Assignments are never easy for nursing students, especially when we need to think about assignments on placement. Time management is a skill that we need to learn outside of class but once you have that ability, you will have it for a lifetime.”

To students who are struggling, Alex reminds them they can do it.

“I was just an average student when I started nursing. I was unfamiliar with the New Zealand education system and the language was an obstacle. However, I believed I could do it. I pushed myself hard to prove to myself that it doesn’t matter if I’m an international student - I can do it.

“When I hit obstacles and had a really hard time, I had to keep telling myself I could do it. You have to remember that your occupation is being a student and that means that studying is a major component of your life. We all have tough times but just hang in there and you will achieve it.”

Alex has been in New Zealand for three years and, although he misses the food from home (he recommends Dumpling House in Hamilton), in the short-term he plans to stay in New Zealand to study a Master of Nursing. He credits his Wintec studies for opening his eyes to the realities of mental health.

“Mental health is a quiet problem in China and it’s also a very specialised area that you don’t go near when you’re a nurse. When I came here, I didn’t know much about it at all but at Wintec it has been an important part of our studies. Now I just want to strengthen my knowledge and skills.”

To his fellow Chinese alumni, he reminds them why they are here.

“Immerse yourself in Kiwi culture, go out, be brave and make Kiwi friends. At the very beginning, it was very hard for me to do that – I even asked my English tutor for the best way to open the door to make Kiwi friends! But the secret is you make one Kiwi friend and then you become friends with their friends and you make a chain. Now I fit in in New Zealand – they call me the ‘Chiwi’ – Kiwi and Chinese. I’m excited about the future.”

Find out more about studying nursing at Wintec.

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