Siti Octrina, a student of University of Auckland - the top rank university in New Zealand

Nearly everyone who is familiar with the writer’s academic and professional record will shoot question on her decision to study public policy in New Zealand, despite the availability of other popular nations.

Here is the story of Riri and the reasons why she chose the land of the long white cloud.

A few common questions that I field on a regular basis: “Why New Zealand, a down-under country far from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitanism?” and “Why not choose the UK, US or  Australia, I am sure you will secure a place in those countries”. I have always responded to the first question by saying “who says public policy needs hustle and bustle?” and the latter by expressing my gratitude towards their confidence over my capacity. However, I am a person who still and always believes that the effectiveness of studying depends predominantly on the student himself. Therefore, I have decided to choose a place that I think will give me the most rewarding study experience. For me, New Zealand is certainly the best option.

Talking about Public Policy major, you may want to consider New Zealand as your option because of the following things:

1. You will be able to obtain a rewarding world standard British education system with a lower cost

New Zealand has several excellent options for Public Policy such as the University of Auckland (which I am currently enrolled at), Victoria University of Wellington and University of Waikato. In this country, you can get the world-renowned British education system with a lower cost. In fact, New Zealand’s tuition fee is considerably lower as compared to other developed countries. New Zealand education board is very particular in preparing and ensuring that each education program meets the standard. The nation is recognized globally as being up-to-date and practical in its education system. In addition, based on my experience, the international students’ support is readily available. Hence, if you plan to study in New Zealand and have enquiries, just drop them an email and they will provide responses in no time!

In The University of Auckland, the classes feel like home.
In The University of Auckland, the classes feel like home.

2. Don’t we policy analyst love the idea of being an anomaly? Distinguish yourself from others!

Following graduation, you will start throwing yourself into diverse career opportunities and aim to secure the best position. You will also be required to start explaining about what makes you different from other applicants during job interviews or on your cover letter. If you aspire to become a policy analyst, having a distinguished experience is pecualiarly an extra point. Pursuing a degree is about “buying” perspective, my friend once said. Too many policy analysts talk about the same issues and address problems by using the same methods. We should make ourselves different from them. This is how studying Public Policy in New Zealand will naturally makes you “different”. For your brief reference, New Zealand was chosen as the top country in the world based on prosperity rankings (The Legatum Prosperity Index, 2016), has been a nuclear free zone since 1980 and is the leader in peacekeeping and global security. In 1983, The nation became the first country in the world to give women voting rights. Also, according to US News (2016), New Zealand is the 4th best country for women, 4th best country to live, 6th best country to raise kids, 8th best country for green living, and 4th most transparent country in the world. Therefore, distinguishing yourself by “buying” perspective from the down-under New Zealand is not so bad after all, isn’t it?

Befriending the Locals
Befriending the Locals

3. To push you past your comfort zone by networking with the locals. New Zealanders are amazing!

The number of Indonesian students in New Zealand is much lesser than those in Australia, UK, or US. In fact, I am the only Indonesian enrolled in the Master of Public Policy programme in the University of Auckland. You will not be able to find Indonesians in every corner of New Zealand (especially outside Auckland) and this consequently will force you to make friends and seek help from the non-Indonesians. This is a good exercise to train you, as a policy analyst, to be flexible and adaptable in any condition; which is good, believe me. Not to worry, you will not find difficulties in making friends with the New Zealanders. Most of them are very friendly to foreigners as 39% of New Zealanders were born overseas (NZ Government, 2013), therefore, they take migration issues quite peacefully. Let me ask, when was the last time you find a cashier in supermarket asking “Hey there, it is a nice weather, isn’t it?” or a bus driver who smiles and ask “How are you today?” even though they don’t know you? In New Zealand, you will find this anywhere and at anytime. They are very welcoming and it will definitely ease the agony of being away from home as you will easily be accepted into the “Kiwi way of life”. Come on, push yourself past your comfort zone and establish a strong network of non-Indonesian friends!

Life-study balance in New Zealand lets you explore the beauty of its culture as well as its spectacular sceneries
Life-study balance in New Zealand lets you explore the beauty of its culture as well as its spectacular sceneries

4. To experience the REAL life-study balance.

Can you believe that sometimes people still go bare foot in New Zealand, even in metropolitan cities such as Auckland? This is one of the many examples that can demonstrate how easy going people are in New Zealand and how they enjoy life based on its values instead of material goods. They adopt a life-work and life-study balance and therefore most stores and public services are only open until 5 PM to 7 PM every day. However, you can still find a number of 24-hour stores should you need to fill your tummy when burning the midnight oil. Furthermore, if you enjoy wildlife, New Zealand will make you feel like you are in one of David Attenborough’s shows. Well, I don’t need to mention the beauty of New Zealand as captured in various critically acclaimed movies such as the Lord of the Ring trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar, the Last Samurai and Vertical Limits that exhibit the scenic beauty of New Zealand. Final advice from me, I honestly think that Public policy is indeed a tough major. However, I can guarantee that if you go out there and enjoy New Zealand’s spectacular sceneries as well as the “Kiwi way of life”, you will soon realize that aside from the classes, you will get public-policy lessons and experiences by living in New Zealand.

An article is surely not enough to cover my study experience in New Zealand. I will stop here and leave you with something to think about. Oh wait, I will still be in Auckland, New Zealand until September 2017. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help in deciding your university choice or course preference. I will be very happy to offer a hand while I am still around and beyond.

Photos provided by author.


  1. Your story is so interesting for me. Btw can I get ur email? I need to talk to u. I have plan to continue my master degree in NZ and still preparing my application to apply scholarship NZ ASEAN Scholarship.. Thanks. If u have time please kindly contact me on my email


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