As we get to know you through the application process to study abroad, it’s only fair that you know a bit about us too! Read on to learn more about the programs team behind all the emails and phone calls and our in-country staff who you will get to know during your time in New Zealand. And, of course, feel free to contact us anytime if you have questions!
Meet Team Wellington
Kate Hilby (aka Hilby, Hilbs or Hilbo Baggins) is a TEAN alum who studied in Melbourne in 2009 and has been working as a Program Manager for TEAN New Zealand for the last six years. She recently returned from a year living and working from New Zealand based out of Auckland. One of her favorite things about living in New Zealand was the opportunity to get out and explore the vastly different and gorgeous landscapes found throughout the country. Her tip is to take time to visit the amazing National Parks of New Zealand, found on both islands. Two of her favorites include Tongariro National Park and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.
Tell us a little about what you do at TEAN?
I currently work on our New Zealand, Fiji, Japan and Southeast Asia programs. My role as team lead and Program Manager is to make sure everything on these programs is running smoothly working with our team. It includes everything from making sure students have pre-departure information on time to making sure they submit all of the items they need to study abroad (i.e. transcripts, courses, contracts, arrival details, payments, visa confirmations).
Where did you study abroad?
I studied with TEAN in Melbourne, Australia at Deakin University. It’s a more traditional campus, just outside the city but being able to live in the city and commute gave me the best of both worlds. Honestly, Melbourne has something for everyone – think sporting events, art, music, theatre, comedy, laneway cafes/restaurants/bars, shopping, the list goes on. Melbourne is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities, so why wouldn’t you choose to study there? If you’re looking for a Melbourne equivalent in New Zealand, check out Wellington known as the coolest little capital in the world. It’s a smaller city, but that makes it an easy city to get around by foot. It’s a very accessible city for study abroad students.
What brought you back to Melbourne to live and work after graduation?
When I graduated, I knew I wanted to return to Australia. My time studying abroad had given me that exposure to living abroad and I wanted to spend more time there as a professional. For my career, It was great to gain work experience at a university abroad. I’m so glad I went down this path or I might not have ended up at TEAN today!
Packing for study abroad is always a challenge and popular topic, as a frequent flyer – what insider tips do you have for someone packing for the semester?
I’ve become pretty good at packing light over the years since there have been so many times earlier on where I’ve overpacked. I took half of my closet and never touched the majority of it. You will hear the advice – pack everything you think you’ll need then take half of it – and it’s so true. My other advice is to pack articles of clothing you can mix and match to create different outfits to help reduce items. Also try to keep the shoe situation under control, they take up a lot of room. Bring a couple pairs that are super versatile (and comfortable).
If you were going to study abroad tomorrow on a TEAN program where would you go?
I’m biased, but I would study on one of our New Zealand programs. Since working with our TEAN New Zealand students, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand several times and have visited all program locations. I also recently lived in New Zealand for a year based out of Auckland. I love the idea of going for a semester, joining a tramping club on campus and getting out into the beauty of New Zealand in my free time!
New Zealand Staff
Resident Assistant - Wellington
Born and raised on the South Island, Ashley studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin where he delved into the worlds of theatre, game design and media studies. While involved with the International Student Department during high school, he discovered a passion for storytelling and New Zealand culture so, following his studies, worked at the Otago Museum and as a Resident Assistant for TEAN in Dunedin. He loves showing new students and travelers from around the world how to make the most of this amazing country and its hidden secrets. He has recently made the move up to Wellington on the North Island, bringing with him his collection of stories, experiences, swords and classic Kiwi humour.
What helps set up a student for a successful experience abroad?
An open mind. People in New Zealand love to help each other and we want you to enjoy your time here and understand why our little corner of the world is so special. There will be strange animals, phrases and food all around you and you’ll be able to appreciate it all more if you take it all in with enthusiasm and curiosity.
What makes New Zealand a great place to study or intern abroad?
Almost anywhere in New Zealand, you are only ten minutes away from wildlife or amazing vistas. It can be surprising to feel like you are miles away from civilization and then be back at work or school within the hour but that’s what makes it special. I can almost guarantee that every local has a hidden spot nearby that they like to visit for hiking, fishing, surfing or simply an isolated place with a gorgeous view.
What should every study abroad student have on their bucket list for a semester in New Zealand?
Watch the Lord of the Rings and then see how many locations from the movies you can find. It may take you around the country or to hidden spots around your local city that were carefully picked because of their wondrous feel.
What previous experiences have led to your current role?
Throughout high school, I could be found in the International Department talking with the students coming from around the world. I wanted to know what drove them to come to New Zealand because to me their home countries seemed so much more interesting. They gave me a perspective about their home and my own, and what made each one special, which then led me to start to explore the Pacific a bit more. My studies took me to the Otago Museum, where I shared the history and culture of New Zealand/Polynesia to people from across the world and the passion just hasn’t stopped. TEAN attracts some of the most interesting and driven students I have ever met, and it is an honor exploring my home country with them and helping them bring out their best selves.
What do you love about living in New Zealand?
The passion of the people living here. At my doorstep I can guarantee that there will be exotic birds that were on the brink of extinction only 20 years ago and are now flourishing in this region due to the rapid actions of New Zealanders. We may be small, but we make up for it with our drive and passion. Go to any game of rugby and you will see and feel the energy of thousands of fans celebrating our national sport. Or ask anybody about places to visit and they will tell you about hidden gems around the country ranging from golden beaches to glaciers that are sometimes only an hour away from the city center. With the exception of overnight delivery options from Amazon, there is very little that you can’t find in New Zealand.
Rachel has an extensive background in international education student services, marketing and university relations. She spent several years living and working abroad first in Japan on the JET program, then in London, England and Guangzhou, China. On return to New Zealand, Rachel managed the study abroad and student exchange programs at Massey University; her alma mater where she was awarded degrees in Business Administration and Marketing. She is now working at the University of Auckland, as well as representing TEAN as the New Zealand Resident Director.