Leaving successful careers to move Down Under

Learner Stories

What makes a family pack up their lives in Taiwan and move to Hamilton, New Zealand?

In Melissa Hsu and James Lin’s case, it was education and lifestyle. But it was still a brave decision to leave well-paid and successful careers to move Down Under.

Workplace English student James

“We had been to New Zealand before; I did a BA in Japanese at Auckland University many years ago in 1994 and James had visited too,” says Melissa.

She met James in Taiwan when they were both studying their master’s degrees. Melissa worked in international trade.

“I’d travelled a lot in my job – including Canada, USA, Russia, Italy, Germany, France and Japan – but we chose New Zealand as a place where we’d like to educate our children and retire.”

“I couldn’t retire immediately, I knew I’d have to find a job,” says James, an electronics engineer. “But when we arrived, I suddenly realised Kiwi English was different from American English,” says James. “Its stress, tone, pronunciation and wording. It was upsetting to find how little I understood and how hard it could be to make myself understood.”

In Taiwan, James had worked for global companies: Hewlett Packard, Agilent and Philips, holding down several leadership roles. He’d used English to communicate with colleagues offshore, but usually through writing and reading.

Finding the English Language Partners’ centre on the Internet started what James calls his “amazing English learning journey in New Zealand”.

The contact not only helped the couple improve their English, it opened up new social networks. They joined an English Language Group, completed a Migrant Work Placement programme also completed the English for Employees programme. James also studied Business English at the Waikato Insitutute of Education.

James first took on part-time labouring jobs. He got back into engineering through door knocking. It took six months, but he finally secured an intervew for a technician position in the Sterile Services Unit at Waikato Hospital.

English Language Partners helped him shape his CV and even attended the interview with him. James got the job and six months later, with help from English Language Partners, he got a job as a biomedical engineering technician.

He is responsible for keeping all those sophisticated medical devices found in hospitals working properly and safely.

“Having good English in my job is crucial to patient safety,” says James. “I must be able to communicate and understand verbal and written instructions.

It’s also important to understand the protocols, standards and regulations of each medical device well to ensure current practices and procedures and patient safety are followed.”

The job’s going well and his links with English Language Partners continue.

Writer: Alison Robertson


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