Volunteering: Christmas Parade in Auckland

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Taken at the Farmers Santa Parade 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand

Christmas in New Zealand is incredible. To kick off the festive season, a parade is usually organised every year where amazing floats, inflatables, and entertainment groups galore are showcased in late November to early December. There are two things you can do when in Auckland during this time of the year. You can either be part of the crowd as viewers or become a volunteer to put smile on people’s faces. Choose the latter at least once while in New Zealand if you can.

You can become a parade volunteer by taking the opportunity to dress in costume and participate in the Parade! This year, I had a privilege to help out in this activity. Everything is well-organised and not stressful at all. Yes, volunteering can be physically draining sometimes BUT personally speaking, there is enormous joy I have experienced in this. Having a privilege to put smiles on people’s faces is a way of giving love this Christmas.

If you want to touch the past, touch a rock.  If you want to touch the present, touch a flower.  If you want to touch the future, touch a life today! 🙂

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iTravel NZ: Tranquility at Mt. Eden!

One of the most iconic places in New Zealand is Mt. Eden. It is located approximately 4 kilometers from Auckland CBD (15-20 minutes). It is the most prominent volcanic cones in the region which erupted about 15,000 years ago from three overlapping scoria cones. It formed a huge scoria mound with a central crater from the last eruption. If you are traveling to New Zealand, take a walk to the Summit! It is worth the panoramic view and it’s FREE!

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After the excruciating university assessments last quarter, it is time to reward myself with few adventures this vacation. Let me share some. 🙂

Commuting to Mt Eden Village is easy and you can do it by yourself. There are two services available; a fast and regular commuter service and a scenic service that takes in the other suburbs and key destinations in Auckland.

HOW TO GET THERE

Departing at Britomart Station, you can take bus number 274 or 277 to Mt Eden Village return every 15 minutes, 7am to 7pm every day. Buses leaving approximately every 30 minutes. If you are taking the bus, don’t forget to bring your AT Hop card.

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Reflection: Life at the Business School

The board meeting is over. So, what now? Ten weeks have passed and I still could not contain how fast that was! I took three subjects for my first quarter and it was not easy. In fact, I have had the best time and the worst time. But I cannot discount the fact that I have learned so much. I am glad I remain bold, strong, and will survive! My Classes for Q1 include the following:

1. Managing People and Organisations (http://www.courses.business.auckland.ac.nz/CoursePdfs/BUSMGT711.pdf)

This subject taught me several theories and practice management using a multidisciplinary business simulation program called Mike’s Bikes. I became the CEO of a prestigious bicycle company called, “Trailblazers”. Our bicycle products were Racer, Adventure, Leisure, Commuter, and Kids. I was the only female CEO who made it to Europe. It was challenging to lead a multi-cultural company at the beginning because of communication (language barrier) and natural culture each manager possesses but my swift adaptability to changes and flexibility lead me to deal with it. With the willingness of my team, I have created an organisational culture that worked for our company. A culture of engagement, fun, and connectivity. My team-based leadership approach made it easier for the managers to freely and openly suggest in order to aid me on well-thought business decisions. I managed to lead Trailblazers to be the top performing company in Europe market consistently for five years.

2. Economics for Managers
This class taught me business economics which basically deals more on economic theory and quantitative methods to analyze business enterprises and the factors contributing to the diversity of organizational structures and the relationships of firms with labour, capital and product markets. But it is more than that! This course made me write academic writings, drew and analyzed graphs, and recommended policies to promote economic growth. Honestly, this one gave me sleepless nights 😀 Oh, I just had my excruciating final exam last night! I’m just glad I am still alive.

3. Professional Development Plan
I enjoyed my tutorial class in this course. The teaching staff is full of energy, well-organised, and managed time very well. Some of the things I’ve learned are: How to use STAR technique in answering behavioral questions; Self-Analysis and Personal Development Planning; Mt. Everest Challenge where you work with teams and learn the value of sharing information to survive; Trust and Feedback (REAL and RITE); Career Development Planning; Boost my confidence through a Video Presentation and; Read McKinsey and Harvard Business Review articles. More importantly, I have known the Top 10 skills I need to develop in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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QUARTER ONE REALISATION

  1. I should use British English more often.
  2. Everybody is genius in class. ‘How do you make yourself standout?’
  3. What’s my personal brand?
  4. Networking is a skill I must develop
  5. Every decision in life has a cost. Even the decision of not making any decision triggers opportunity cost. So, I just stay calm and study.
  6. In business, we make decisions and every decision has consequences.
  7. Exam success doesn’t define you as a person.
  8. The struggles I have today can be the strength I need tomorrow.

Overall, student life at Business School can be challenging at times but if I have the courage to begin, then I must have the strength to succeed.

iTravel NZ: Welcome Spring at Cornwall Park (One Tree Hill)

There are some things in life that fill your heart even without trying–pets, flowers, and cherry blossoms. After a tedious week, students also need to take a time off. Carley and I decided to go to Cornwall Park to grab some fresh air to rejuvenate and these are what we randomly found:

With just 15-20 minute drive from the Auckland Central Business District, you will be able to get a taste of farm life where 700 sheep and 120 cattle graze its pasture. This park surrounds the famous One Tree Hill in New Zealand.

This spring, as the park bursts into colour and life, why not pack a picnic and take the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular beauty of daffodils and blooming cherry blossom trees that herald the new season. Have a look at lambs and calves playing in the paddocks nearby!

HOW TO GET THERE
A. From Britomart Train station, take Bus 595 to One Tree Hill Central station.
B. From the Warehouse New Market, take 302 One Tree Hill Central station.

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iTravel NZ: Spring in Auckland Domain

Spring is here!

It’s been a month since I arrived in New Zealand. Time flies fast! The Uni has kept me busy with school stuff almost every day. Missing home, I keep consoling myself that I should take courage and be strong. As I looked outside the University of Auckland Business School’s Owen Glen G. Building (OGGB), I noticed the Cherry Blossoms in bloom outside. It is such a great reminder that there is hope, there is healing, there is peace and there is GOD. I am not alone.

That same day, a friend gave me a call to go to Auckland Domain. So while the weather is good, we went. Isn’t it beautiful?

HOW TO GET THERE

From the University of Auckland OGGB in 12 Grafton Rd., follow the cross walk heading to North. The Auckland Domain is just across the OGGB.

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NZAS #6: 12 Things To Keep In Mind Before And Upon Arrival To New Zealand

Kia Ora!

It’s been a week since I arrived in New Zealand. It still feels like a dream but this is it. The long wait, the long queue, and the long air travel were all worth it. I am now officially starting my new journey here. So where do we start from here?

1. Make sure you have booked your accommodation prior to your arrival. As a scholar, you will be provided with accommodation solutions as soon as you confirm the scholarship offer. You will have to consider the pros and cons and decide from the plenty of options provided for you. If you are not familiar about how to get around near your university, it is best to choose the University accommodations as they are generally accessible and convenient. The only downside is that it comes with a price (don’t worry, it is still within your allowance kaya lang tipid moments). Be mindful that there are some universities (i.e. University of Auckland) that will require you to submit an application for accommodation. If you wish to stay at a more affordable place, the Accommodation Solutions (you will receive an email) will give you options.

2. Once you secure your accommodation you need to book your airport pick up (if applicable). In the case of the University of Auckland, you will receive an email with a link so you can book one. You need the exact address of your accommodation and the number of luggage you will be bringing.

3. ALWAYS check the baggage allowance allotted for you. The scholarship will normally grant you the economy baggage allowance (e.g. 30kg) so if you are bringing in more items then you need to prepare for extra charges. As a personal tip, you just have to bring things within the allotted baggage allowance to avoid inconveniences. If you are coming in with your family, send your balikbayan box/es one month in advance if it is really necessary (for sure, mauuna ka pang makakarating kesa sa padala mo).

4. Print out your ticket, visa/e-visa, scholarship letter and letter of offer from the university in preparation for any interrogations it may occur during your travel. You will also need these documents when you process your university requirements later on.

5. Pack light but pack the essentials (i.e. foldable umbrella, ballpens, markers, sticky notes, notebook/notepad, calculator, cosmetics). The ones I mentioned are some of the expensive items I have found in NZ. For instance, a pen (parang Panda lang) costs around 5 NZD, umbrella costs 20-25 NZD (hindi pa yan automatic). Remember to pack your passport, cellphone, charger and power bank.

6. Check your email regularly for updates. You need to check some advisory and essential updates regarding your flight schedule, airport pick up, and other things related to your travel to New Zealand.

7. Buy a New Zealand sim card. If you need to contact someone (i.e. the driver  upon your arrival, you can buy your sim card at the airport. Remember to activate it and register online. It comes with mobile data if you avail the package. I got a Vodafone sim card at the airport. The sim card costs 5NZD and top up with 30 NZD for combo package. (mobile data, calls, and unlimited text messages). You can download the mobile application for ease of transactions and to monitor your remaining balance.

8. Drop by the International Student Office for courtesy call, a welcome pack, and some instructions (UoA).

9. Claim your student ID at the Student Center Office. If you can get a tertiary sticker, do so. The sticker is essential if you usually commute because you will have 40% discount on your AT Hop card.

10. Open your bank account. For you to receive your allowance, you need a bank account. You need your student ID and your passport. Make an appointment with ANZ bank or BNZ bank. Mine is ANZ Bank because it is very accessible to the University.

11. Get an AT Hop card. This is essential if you commute every day. AT Hop card costs around 10 NZD and you need to top up with some amount for you to use. Make sure to activate it and register online. You should also apply for concession to finally avail of the 40% discount. Your student ID number will be required. You also need to download AT Hop application on your mobile phone.

12. Check the nearest grocery and department store from your location. You just arrived and you need to eat. If you live in Auckland Central Business District, the grocery is just few minutes walk. You can check Warehouse, Countdown or the Asian Store. At this moment, Google Maps is very useful. You can survive 🙂

So basically, these are just some of the essential tips I can share with you based on my personal experience as you begin your journey to New Zealand. Remember, if you have the courage to begin, you’ll surely have enough courage to succeed. Shine on!

If you have the courage to begin, you surely have enough courage to succeed.

👣The Official Traveler

NZAS #5: From Benguet State University To The University of Auckland!

Kia Ora!
I have mixed emotions as my journey to NZ will truly begin soon. I feel sad to leave a handful of dear people in my country but at the same time I also feel excited to meet new people and study in the highest-ranked university in New Zealand. I still cannot believe that I made it here.  It’s truly a blessing that I have been chosen to be a recipient of a prestigious New Zealand Scholarship program. Without the scholarship, studying at the University of Auckland would be next to impossible. Hence, I am grateful for the opportunity.

I really wanted to pursue Commerce (Business Management) at Saint Louis University in 2004 but my parents could not afford it during those days. Knowing this fact, I was sad at first but my hopes remained up. Fortunately, I was offered an option to take bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness as a DILG scholar with the help of the Pathways program for high school students by SLU. However, this scholarship could only be valid if I choose to study at a state university. Without any second thought, I grabbed the opportunity and finished the degree at Benguet State University. Thankfully, I graduated in 2008 with a consistent good mark. It may not be as expensive as Saint Louis University, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University or UP Diliman yet I shall never feel inferior about it. In fact, part of my character and the foundation skills that I have were honed in this humble state university.

My aspiration to pursue my dream/s did not stop there. I applied at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and University of Auckland (New Zealand) without even knowing if I’d make it or not. Yes, I personally know my educational background, School QS rating, etc. but it was all by His grace, by faith and work that I was able to receive Letters of Offer from both universities. I did not have any scholarship yet when I received the two offer letters. There was no way I am going in any of those prestigious universities without any scholarship. I had to pick one and focus on one Scholarship application.

Choosing between the two was not easy knowing both are promising universities. So I asked for wisdom and kept my faith up. Ultimately, I picked University of Auckland and applied for a scholarship. The University of Auckland is the largest university in New Zealand. It is the highest-ranked university in the country, being ranked 81st worldwide in the 2016/17 QS World University Rankings. Surprisingly, the scholarship is for me! No doubt! I can surely tell in many circumstances that have occurred. Thanks to NZAid for the privilege and glory to God for making things beautiful in His time.

“Wherever I go or whatever I’ll pursue, I hope to be reminded to always fulfill the trust reposed in me by my parents, my nation, and my alma mater”

Now, I shall continue my journey as I take another degree overseas. Wherever I go or whatever I’ll pursue, I hope to always fulfill the trust reposed in me by my parents, my nation, and my alma mater. From a humble state university to a world-class university, this quest is seemingly a challenge full of excitement and uncertainties. Even so, I shall remain positive that I am going to love studying here as it provides plenty of opportunities to learn and to experience both the city and outdoor life in New Zealand.

To the one who’s inspired by this short testimony, don’t lose hope. Stay focused and work it out. If it’s for you.. it’s for you. If it’s a NO, don’t give up. Either you try again or try something else. 🙂

Apart from You, I can do nothing.

👣The Official Traveler

 

NZAS #4: How To Send Passport & Handling Fee By Post?

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Some applicants are required to provide their passport even if they applied for New Zealand visa online.  If you need to provide your passport, you would have been advised of this on the ‘Thank you’ page when you submitted your Immigration ONLINE visa application. If you are not sure if you need to provide your passport, login to your RealMe account, open the application PDF and look at the advice on the last page.

The Immigration New Zealand will contact you if they need your passport or any other information. If you were instructed to provide your passport, ensure you read the following steps carefully:

Step 1 : Prepare the following:

  • your ORIGINAL passport
  • printout of the ONLINE confirmation page or your ONLINE application reference number if available
  • your contact information: phone, e-mail and return courier address (if applicable)
  • the Visa Application Centre (VAC) passport handling fee (plus any applicable courier fees) either in person, through a representative or by post.

My Experience:
I did not have enough time to travel to Manila to process my visa so I decided to maximize the use of NZ online services. No agent needed!

Step 2 : The VFS Global Service Fee are applicable per application.

If you are not applying in New Zealand, you also need to provide a fee for the processing of your passport by the Visa Application Centre. The New Zealand Visa Application Centre will accept all of the payment in PHP currency only. Please be aware that VFS is no longer accepting Manager’s Check (at least in my experience). I have verified this already. You may deposit the fees through cash to any Metrobank branch over the counter.

My Experience:
I paid for the Passport handling Fee via Metrobank (+courier fee for my passport to be sent back to my office). I do not have existing account so I went to a Metrobank branch and deposited the required amount to their account number.
I paid for the ff:
a. Passport Handling Fee: 570php
b. Courier Fee: 385php
I sent my passport and info details via LBC (paid separate amount of 175php) and received it after 10 days through 2GO Express. I did not opt to pay for the SMS services. I monitored through LBC tracking system and that’s enough for me 🙂

Step 3 : Scan Your Passport Bio page, Bank Transaction Slip, and contact information

Do not forget to scan these as you will have to email it  to VFS. The address will be provided to you.

Step 4 : Send via Courier

It’s time to send your passport together with the original deposit slip and contact information. Do not forget to write the address and summary details for ease of reference. Once you lodged your application, track your status of your shipment every now and then. If they do not receive your passport within 20 days, your application could be declined.

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Step 5: Visa Application Status Update

Once your shipment has finally arrived, you shall automatically receive a confirmation email that your application is being processed at the New Zealand Embassy.

Step 6: Visa Application Has Been Processed

After several days of waiting, you shall receive an automated email saying your visa has been processed and your passport is in transit. You will also receive a confirmation in your RealMe account.

Step 7: Congratulations, you made it!

Now, you just have to wait for your passport to arrive the next day or two. Haven’t I told you can do it? 🙂

Useful site: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/contact/offices/philippines

I got multiple visa!! ^_^ PTL! See you soon NZ!

 

NZAS #3: How I Applied for a New Zealand Student Visa Online

To be able to study in New Zealand for more than a year, I know I need to apply for a student visa. However, I live far from Cebu and Manila and I am also working on weekdays.  Through a little bit of research, I know it can be done by myself (DIY). Thanks to the immigration of New Zealand website  which I find friendly and pretty straightforward. With my scenario, I opted to use the Online Application instead of the paper-based application. Let me share how I did.

Step 1: Open the immigration of New Zealand site. Read and learn more about the details about your visa.

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Step 2: You will be prompted to create or log in to your RealMe account. DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSWORD.

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Step 3: Once you are logged in, just click on “Make an Application”. You will be required to:
a. Fill out an application form

  • You need to complete the answers to all questions in English.
  • You do not need to complete all of the application form at once.
  • You can save your application form at any time and come back.

b. Upload documents

 

  • You are required to upload documents to support your application.
  • You are required to upload an acceptable photo of yourself to support your application. Your photo must show a full-front view of the face, head and shoulders and you must be looking straight at the camera with a neutral expression, eyes open, mouth closed and head straight. Nothing should obscure the facial features.

Experience: NZ4

c. Submit and View application

  • You will be charged an  application fee, you must pay before you can submit your application. This fee can only be paid using Visa™, MasterCard™ or UnionPay™.
  • If you are not applying in New Zealand, you also need to provide a fee for the processing of your passport by the Visa Application Centre.

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Experience: I paid for the visa fee (application cost) using a MasterCard™ online

d. Supply additional documents

  • You may be asked to provide more documents to support your application. If they need more documents or information, they will get in touch with you by email or other means. So keep an eye on your mailbox, email, mobile phone, etc.

Once you clicked “Submit”, you can readily view your application.

Step 4: You shall receive an email acknowledging the receipt of your application and any other instruction.

Experience: I was asked to send Immigration New Zealand my passport along with the required handling fee so they can finalize my application.

So that’s how I did online.
Posting soon: How I Sent My Passport & Handling Fee By Post?

 

 

NZAS #2 |New Zealand ASEAN Scholarship Award: My Unexpected Surprise!

Act without Expectations

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Expectation

While most couples expect to receive surprises from their loved ones on Valentine’s Day, I never truly expect that the my mailbox would surprise me with the Scholarship Letter of Offer on February 14! It is sure a great surprise! From now on, I am very much inspired to share about my NZAS milestones in order to inspire other aspiring scholars around the globe.

Coming from a financially challenged family, it has been a ‘ wish upon a star’ to study abroad with full scholarship but nothing is impossible for those who truly believe. Every morning, before I start my work at the office, I would always check international news for updates and current events. One morning, I came across a news article with New Zealand ASEAN Scholarship Award (NZAS) on it. I became interested (since ‘to be a full-time scholar abroad’ was part of my Vision & Goals for 2016). So, I challenged myself to apply for one. It was never easy. I never expected to make it to the end but my heart was at peace no matter what the result be. Thankfully, after several months the long wait is finally over. Indeed, it’s WORTH THE WAIT!!! I GOT THE SCHOLARSHIP! Glory to God. 🙂

TIMELINE OF APPLICATION
April 29: Submitted application
April 30: Received response to inquiry
June  03: Passed the initial screening
June 04: Moved forward to the next stage
July 11:    Took online assessment
August 8: Passed online assessment stage
August 11: Schedule of panel interview
August 12: Submitted supporting documents
August 24: Took the interview
September 23: Shortlisting Outcome (RC)
December 19: Scholarship Team notification
January 31: University notification
February 2: Scholarship Team notification (PC)
February 10: New Zealand Scholarship Letter of Offer

It is not as easy as it may appear. Expect that there are many applicants–many are called, but few are chosen. In response to worst case scenario, Prayer, Planning, Goal-setting, and Research were necessary. I prepared and set specific targets to achieve it step by step. Throughout the process of waiting, I’ve learned many lessons. My character while waiting has been strengthened and I am so glad I have succeeded on the day I  expected the least. When it appeared to be hopeless, pray for patience, peace and joy. Keep moving, DON’T GIVE UP. (Jer. 29:11)

*I hope to help other aspiring NZAS scholars by sharing my personal experiences on my NZAS journey. ^_^ Everybody has a story.