Francy completed the last semester of her conjoint Arts and Law degree at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. She was the recipient of a 360 International Award for Māori and Pacific Students.
“It’s amazing to live overseas, but to do so while studying means you have a base and a purpose. You can enter into a community far more easily, and it is an interesting way to view the culture. Being in Mexico gave me a freedom I had never experienced before in New Zealand.
“At first, I wasn’t tempted by the idea of studying overseas because I thought I would rather be free to explore and travel as I liked. I found out I had an extra semester of my Arts degree to complete and started thinking about studying overseas. I discovered there were several scholarships I could apply for, which made it much more feasible.”
A great opportunity I had was to speak at a Diversity Abroad conference in Miami, USA. I was invited by the University of Auckland International Office to share my experience studying overseas as a young Māori woman.
“While I often hesitate to identify as Māori because I have grown up Pākehā, it was a really affirming experience to get up in front of a crowd of more than 400 minority students and professionals and acknowledge this hesitation, but also embrace this part of my identity. Upon returning to Mexico, I went on to speak to three classes about Aotearoa, what it means for me to be Māori, the conference, and studying abroad. It has been part of my journey of owning my whakapapa and identity, and each talk helped me feel a little more comfortable in myself.
“Life at the University of Auckland is very different. The classes in Mexico are small, students have a more personal relationship with the teachers, and they provide more help and guidance. I’ve really enjoyed the extra-curricular courses, and also having access to a free gym. I’ve loved the collegiality of having a small campus too.”
“Overseas study has reignited my passion for learning and new experiences. It has reaffirmed my love for languages and my desire to become fluent in both te reo and español, and has inspired me to start thinking about post-graduate study. I will return to New Zealand to a job in a law firm, as planned. However, studying overseas has made me think how great it would be to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or another ministry with positions in Spanish-speaking countries, so that has become a new goal of mine.
“My advice to anyone considering overseas study, is go to South America, go somewhere you don’t speak the language. Be prepared for it to change a lot of your ideas and life plans!”