I find that their is often a stigma circulating international students, as they often hesitate to break into the crowds of normal students at school. Maybe it’s because they are shy or maybe it is because our culture is actually more ignorant they we like to think. Throughout my almost five years at high school, we have continuously had international students come and go. However, I have spent the majority of the time ignoring them as they have always seemed happy staying in their own groups with the other international students who arrived with them. But, is this actually the experience that they would want when they travel abroad for a year. My guess would be no. As travelling overseas is meant to change your perspectives and open your mind to the thousands of cultures out their in our world and to me it appears to be a waste of time spending it with the same culture you came from, be it Latin, European or Asian. In 2017, I met some of my current best friends when I decided to befriend some internationals and this is the story of why I believe that you should do the same.

As I had been making my way through high school back in 2017, life was pretty simple and I had a good set of friends. But, something felt missing to me and whilst each of my friends is different in their own ways, we all pivoted around the exact same culture that we grew up in. At this same time, our school had a flood of new international students come into our school and this encouraged me to branch out and see what ‘these people’ would be like. I began talking to a shy German boy in my business class who I could see was heading towards the same cycle that every international student seemed to go through – travel to New Zealand, find other friends from your country, hang out with them until you leave and then exit the country. I wanted this German to break this cycle and so I brought him away from it and he began enjoying the true ‘kiwi’ experience. He has since gone onto become one of the most loved people at our school and he has truly broken the stigma that existed around international students.

However, my point is how much I have learned from the time that I have spend with him, of which is about to come to an end as his New Zealand journey comes to a close in a week and he heads back to Germany. Through this time, I have learned so much about the German culture and what type of life they life their compared to the life that we have here. He has been key in broadening my mind to the world and I felt that I have changed so much throughout the last year he has been here. This is because I feel I am less ignorant about the world and more often than not the things that they teach in school about the world are wrong or not enough to actually explain the lives that different people have across the world.

I encourage all people to follow this as I know the hundreds of internationals that travel to our New Zealand schools every year and I know how many end up in the same boring cycle of life in this country. I bet you any money that any international would want the chance to see our true culture here and I know that you would benefit in so many ways from this opportunity. They come from so many varying places across our planet and mine has now become one of my best friends in such a short amount of time. All you have to do is talk to them and it will truly broaden your mind to so many new things that you didn’t know before.

My advice to all of you, no matter what your age is and no matter where you are in life – you will all benefit from an international friend because they will change your perspectives and build you into a much better and open-minded person.

Will Cole is a year 13 student with a passion to write and is pursuing a career in journalism. When he’s not at school, he runs the communications for his healthcare business www.clearfree.co.nz with two friends. See his weekly blog pieces here where he talks about the journey of a young entrepreneur and New Zealand’s current affairs



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