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From the Philippines to New Zealand: My Study Abroad Journey

My name is Errah Cabrera, and I am currently taking Bachelor of Commerce, Major in Accounting and Minor in Finance at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. This is my study abroad story.

I was 18 years old when I flew to study in New Zealand, just two months after graduating from Senior High School. Moving to a completely new and unfamiliar country was a bit daunting in the beginning. I knew that the moment I stepped inside the plane, I will be on a journey in a place where I don’t know anyone – not even a single relative or friend.

My main motivation to study abroad was to shorten my years at University. I learned that a 5-year course in the Philippines can be completed in only three years in some other countries. Additionally, the idea of working while studying really resonated with me because I always wanted to live independently, and I knew that this experience will lead to more opportunities in the future.

Choosing New Zealand

To be honest, my original reason for choosing New Zealand was its beauty! Saying the country’s name sounded exhilarating to me and the photos I found on Google were astonishing! Yes, it was quite childish of me to think that way but speaking with an IDP Education Counselor completely justified my reasons to choose New Zealand. I quickly realized that this country is so much more than just aesthetics. Aside from schools that were ranked highly internationally, the support and openness of New Zealand towards international students from all around the world convinced me to pursue it as my study destination.

Process of studying in New Zealand

What really kicked off my journey to New Zealand was the IDP seminar I attended. After learning about IDP’s reputation, my mom and I went to their office and that’s when I met my Counselor. She gave me a list of the requirements and carefully explained each one to me. 

IDP helped process all my papers. My Counselor consistently reminded me of which requirement I needed to submit before the deadline, guided me when I was writing my Statement of Purpose, and did her best to make sure my student visa will get approved.

Going to New Zealand

When my student visa got approved, I felt like I was in a state of bliss! It didn’t hit me until I was already at the airport, holding back tears. During that moment, I felt a roller coaster of emotions. I was torn between running inside to chase my dreams or taking a step back to stay with my family. Eventually, I took the leap of faith and officially started my international student adventure.

One of the culture shocks I experienced when I arrived was how people – no matter their position – don’t want to be addressed as ma’am/sir. We all call our lecturers, managers, and deans by their first name. It’s also amazing that I can sort of experience four seasons in one day! It’s hilarious how the temperature in the morning feels like spring, then goes to summer by noon, feels like autumn in the afternoon, and suddenly drops to winter-like at night.

Now I am in my 2nd year of studying here and I have adjusted to the environment and curriculum. It’s great that I also get to work part-time and join some extra-curricular activities in the University. I am proud to be an ambassador for both International College and UC Business. 

After graduating I plan to start working right away. However, if given the chance, I would love to come home to the Philippines for a nice vacation, given that I only got to go home once ever since I started university because of the pandemic.


If you want to be an international student like Errah, IDP is here to help every step of the way! Fill out the inquiry form on this page to get started.

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