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ILC Testimonials

Student Testimonials

Vivian Lehmann – 16 years Germany, 18 months Wanaka

My name is Vivian Lehmann. I am an ongoing biotechnologist, studying at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. This had been an emerging dream throughout my stay in New Zealand. I have always followed my dreams and the kiwi attitude taught me once more that you can make your dreams come true as long as it is you who takes the steps.

When I first arrived three years ago, I didn’t know anyone but our amazing “mum”, Claire Easterbrook. I dived into cold waters when walking up to the Kiwis from my year, introducing myself. It took some swallowing down the fear and going beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone but showing initiative was my ticket into the student community. I dived in so deep that new internationals didn’t realise that I wasn’t actually a local. I had secret plans of finishing High School in Wanaka and thus embraced school life wholeheartedly.

It wasn’t always easy. As Claire had indicated to us, homesickness hit after three weeks, then again after about 3 months. The best medicine was photos of home and a busy lifestyle in Wanaka. Horse riding, archery, drama, skiing, fishing, tramping, snow caving, sky diving, kayaking and studying are some examples of an endless list of activities. One of my dads, Glenn Sherson (you find many new family members along the way), once told me: “When you go traveling you have to take every opportunity that you are given.” And so I did, and so should you =)

Three years later I have returned to one of my four homes in the world and visited all of the great people in Wanaka. Once again, I found it very hard to leave my beloved host family (Tessa, Helen, Keith and Leonor) and all the other people to who I got very close during my stay. But I never say “good bye”, it is always a “see you later”, because Wanaka is home and home is where your heart belongs, it is a place that you will always return to.

Yoo-suk Chung - Korea

My name is Yoo, I am year 13 student at Mount Aspiring College (MAC) and I have spent the last 7 years in Wanaka attending the College. In this testimonial I would like to talk about my experience at MAC.

I can barely remember my first day at Mount Aspiring College. I stated school in 2007 as a year 7 student. As a young boy it was very exciting and I was nervous. One thing which I could remember is that every single person I met was very friendly and willing to guide me in the right direction. If I look back, those small things have made a huge difference to my time at MAC I have integrated with kiwi colleagues, and built some lifelong friendships. I know I am still young and there is a lot to learn, but I believe MAC gave me an opportunity to make my first step towards the big wild world.

Seven years is a long time to stay and study for an international student. Learning how to speak, write and understanding English isn’t hard, anyone could do it if they have time and are willing to put the effort in, but from my experience the most difficult thing is learning about the culture, cooperating with Kiwis which can be rather difficult - as we have a different understanding towards many different things.

What I liked the best about the school would be my friends. As I mentioned above I have made some really good friends and we have done many activities together. I have lots of good memories of our time together.

As a student I wasn’t the smartest in our year level, but every teacher is willing to help you if you have the right attitude, and none of the teachers had prejudice towards anyone.

Cream (Chanaka) Danrungruang - Thailand

In 2012, I studied at Mount Aspiring College for 10 months to do NCEA Level 2 and get my Mattayom 6 as well. It was pretty hard for me to learn a new language. I had to adjust myself and improve my English at the same time. Teacher's at the school always helped me when I had a problem, because my English was not good when with I first arrived in New Zealand. Also when I got any troubles, I could always get great advice. That made me feel comfortable. 

Studying at this school, I gained a lot of experience. It was such a happy period for me to learn new things and to have new friends from all over the world. Furthermore, my ambition for the year was to pass Year 12. To help me to achieve this, the teachers at the ILC arranged tutors to help me to prepare for the exams and to get into university. As a consequence, I passed all of my exams (some with Merit & Excellence) and got a scholarship from the Asia Pacific University, in Japan.

Benjamin Meuller - Germany

About my nine months of 2012 in Wanaka 

My name is Benjamin, I'm 17 years old and spent the last nine months in Wanaka, New Zealand. In this report I would like to tell about my experiences I've had, my time at Mount Aspiring College and my homestay family.

For me being so far away from my family was a big step. Everything was new and far away from home. In Wanaka however I was welcomed heartily. Especially the overseas students based at the International Language Centre, for whom the start at school was made as easy as possible. With special English classes and orientation courses as well as someone I could come to anytime I needed if I had a problem, school life at MAC was incredibly comfortable and easy to fit in.

What I liked most at MAC was the Outdoor Pursuits Program. We tried kayaking, rock-climbing, tramping and many other sports I would have never tried but I enjoyed them all so much. The group feeling and well organised trips were always a highlight.

Generally the people not only in school but the New Zealanders or Kiwis like they are called are very tolerant and easy-going people with a very positive attitude about life.

My host-family is the best example. My host dad, always with a joke on his lips, my host mum, the most uncomplicated person and my host brothers, sporting and always good for some activity. I enjoyed my time with them so much. Homesickness with this family was something rare.

In my freetime I played soccer in the school team (the school has a team for almost everything!). I also joined the local volunteer fire brigade. One time the alarm went off in the middle of a lesson, I jumped and left as if it was the most normal thing in the world. The teachers had total understanding for me.

What is left to tell? Actually everything because what I've written above is only a small piece of all the things I did and experiences I had.

Shiori Amano - Japan

Shiori is from Hokkaido, Japan. Initially she came to MAC from our exchange School, Sosei High School in Sapporo. Students from either MAC and Sosei visit each other for 10 weeks and experience life as a student in either both places. Shiori enjoyed her experience so much she came back for more...

I came back here. I have been here in the high school program two years ago. It was my first time visiting abroad. Firstly I was disappointed in my English skill because I could not speak as well as I expected. It was a shock. I was worrying about how I could catch up with other exchange students and how I could speak the same as a native speaker. But it was wrong and waste of time. I should not compare myself with another person, I should concentrate on myself.

Now I do not feel like this anymore because I had a great experience in Wanaka. Now I have confidence about listening. These days I can understand what kiwis or friends are saying. My goal is to get a job which is related to international business. I mean I want to use English for my job.

Actually this is a challenging decision. But I will work as hard as possible. And finally I want to come back to Wanaka again. See you then.

OK, let's talk about Wanaka. It is a fantastic town to live and study in and it is definitely a perfect place for the lovers of skiing. The image of snow-capped mountain and limpid lake in my head is indelible. Well, I almost forgot, there is fast food shop called "Snack Shack" in front of the lake which makes brilliant chips. That's the best chips I have ever had in my life!"

Simon Ma (Ma Xingye) - China

Simon is from Nanjing, an old city next to the Yangtze River in China. He has been studying at Mount Aspiring for one year and will shortly return home to his Father Ma Qhn, and Mother Wn Tingting.  He recently passed his IELTS English language test, of which he is rightly proud.

I used to have English lessons three times a week. And aside from that I studied Calculus, Statistics and Physics. I have worked hard this year, now I need a break. My parents didn’t really pressure me, they know I can manage myself. At times I have been quite tired from all the hard work, especially studying for my English exam.

I have eight months free time now. I think I will work in a café in China until July. I have an interest in Art so hopefully I can also do some part time courses. Read English books I never got around to this year. Like the book Tuesdays with Morrie, that book taught me a lot I think.

Its time to take the responsibility (of adulthood) and it doesn’t scare me. You have to have a plan for the next five years, ten years. You need to have long term goals. Its not really a meaningful life if you don’t do this.

This year changed me a lot. I used to be a city person, lots of city life and friends. When I came here I found it is quite a good thing to do, to stay in the countryside, its totally relaxed and not much trouble to worry about. Everybody knows each other and you say hi to everyone you see on the road. I made a lot of friends, and we went hunting and boating, lots of different activities. I think you always need two or three close friends, people you can tell everything to, people you can share your troubles with. The real friends stay when you go away.

Values? I always want to be helpful and available for others. Helping other people, not just making money or profit for yourself. You should do something for the society or the community. I think my parents have these values also.

I think some adults are chasing for something wrong. They work too hard and they are lost. I just think you should always know what you want, not follow somebody else. If you are confused you have to search for that goal."

Grace Canada - Philippines

Grace and her parents emigrated from the Philippines to New Zealand and settled into Wanaka.  She came to Mount Aspiring College with a positive attitude and made friends with everyone here.  She and her family only stayed with us for one year, as her parents now work in another part of New Zealand, but she certainly became a big part of our ILC (International Language Centre) family.   Here is a her goodbye letter to us which is very sweet and special.

I left my family and friends in the Philippines but I brought a lot of memories to tell my new friends here in New Zealand. Mabuhay! This is how we say our gratitude in Filipino language. I don’t know how would I repay you for everything that you have done for me, you let me in as part of the College and as part of your family.

I should start it with a ‘Thank you'. Thank you to Claire, Helen, Linda and Maree for giving me chance to learn and be part of the International Language Centre. Thank you to Claire for letting me participate in every activity that you had going. Thank you to Mrs Lewis for being patient teaching me every Monday and Friday even though sometimes I couldn’t really understand the topic, but I did try my best. Thank you guys, for introducing Mount Aspiring College, Wanaka and New Zealand to me and showing me how lovely it is.

Thank you for teaching me to write a new chapter of my life.

Here’s a Filipino flag, fresh from my country. I would like to give this to you as a “thank you” gift, full of pride. If I would have the chance to visit again, I will bring durian candies for Maree and bangle bracelets for Claire.

I know that we will see each other again and thank you for letting me tell you my stories."

Fred Zhang - China

"It really has been a wonderful and memorable time of studying in Mount Aspiring College. Both academic teachers and admin staffs are very warmhearted and patient, especially to foreign students.

School facilities are perfect, in particular the gym where we played so many amazing basketball games. Local students and people are very amicable and very hospitable, they really bring an ideal studying environment to all the foreign students. The International Language Center is very helpful, not only in the way of learning English, it is also a life guide to us. When I first came to Wanaka, I was living in a Host family (arranged by the language center) which gave me a great chance to learn English and local culture.

OK, let's talk about Wanaka. It is a fantastic town to live and study in and it is definitely a perfect place for the lovers of skiing. The image of snow-capped mountain and limpid lake in my head is indelible. Well, I almost forget, there is fast food shop called "Snack Shack" in front of the lake which makes brilliant chips, that's the best chips I have ever had so far!".

Parents' Testimonials

Teresio Asola and Romana Violardo - Torino, Italy

Giulia Asola, our daughter, has been in Italy for more than two months now, after her two splendid Year 12 terms with Mount Aspiring College. She is still thinking back to her awesome experience in the gorgeous village of Wanaka, with a wonderful family, a superlative school and teachers so skilled, well organised and caring.

She’s still a bit sad right now, due to all the nice experiences she had with Mount Aspiring College that she’s missing so much now:  the new way of feeling and living the school hours, the sound pragmatism of MAC, the chemistry and biology laboratories (what an experience to study the animals’ organs, dissecting a real lamb!), the New Zealand bright, colourful spring, the Outdoor Pursuits, the adventures, snow-caving (what a night, sleeping in a cold but cosy self-built snow-cave!) and Kepler Track, kayaking, the environmental discoveries, the knowledge discoveries, the self discoveries, the IELTS exam at Otago University, the maturity trials to be faced everyday and last but not least the friends.

A once-in-her-life experience, never to be forgotten, for Giulia! A wonderful, unforgettable experience we, Giulia’s parents, have lived with Giulia indirectly for a semester, through Giulia’s fantastic photos and enthusiastic reports by e-mail or letter about New Zealand and the school.

Thanks so much, MAC. And a special thank you to all MAC teachers and all Giulia’s school-mates. We hope that Giulia will keep in touch with everyone and that she can meet again, one day, all her friends she’s made in Wanaka.

Tatania Teusch - Germany

Re: Allan Udeajah

Thank you so much for your nice words. Allan is very sad to leave New Zealand and Wanaka in particular.

After the first months of getting used to a new environment, which was sometimes hard for him he adapted himself and got integrated very well. We are very happy that he has become a part of Wanaka’s community and a part of his host family as you say.

And we are very pleased to see that he has utilised much of the opportunities he got and is now happier and more daring than anytime before.

This one year has added a new dimension to his view on life. He has discovered outdoor activities, triathlon and rugby, met many friendly, helpful and openhearted people and made many new friends. It will always remain in his heart. And who knows, maybe he will come back sometime!

Anyway this unforgettable year is running out. We are looking forward to seeing our boy again and hoping, he will fit back into German environment quickly.

Thank you once again for your guidance and warm care. It’s a very comfortable feeling to know that there is a person we can always rely on. THANK YOU for everything!! It could not have been better.

Re: Nicolas Eberstadt

Hello Mount Aspiring College!

Nicolas has arrived back home and I would like to express my gratitude once more for your wonderful work. He has come back full of enthusiasm and wonderful memories of - what he calls - the best college and staff that he can imagine.

Also the country, its people and its nature have impressed him strongly in a positive way. In fact, I am afraid that he his having a bit of a hard time adapting to the conditions here again and he is sad that he had to leave his friends, your college and the country. He will definitely be back!

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