It was winter in Kyiv - minus 10 degrees and snowing - when Olha Viazenko decided to attend a workshop on studying abroad.
There she and her husband watched a presentation with beautiful photos of New Zealand’s landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities. They decided almost immediately to make the move here.
Olha has worked as a journalist and a lawyer in Ukraine. She's also led an international relations organisation where she undertook media projects with cultural societies and embassies all over the world.
She knew she needed to practice her English and learn more about management to be able to excel in her industry, so the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Management at OPAIC was a good fit for her.
Olha has recently completed the qualification. She says it was great to be a student again but also challenging balancing study with family and other responsibilities.
On top of her study she was very involved in extracurricular activities. Olha was a student ambassador, a police ambassador and helped at graduations, orientations, and other student and charity events.
“Volunteering in New Zealand is very, very popular,” she says.
It’s a way to communicate, find new interests, and meet new people, according to Olha.
“It’s really great, because you feel that you can do something for other people.”
She worked as a kitchenhand as an evening job while completing her qualification. It was a flexible job that allowed her to study and volunteer during the day.
She’s also working on a project for New Zealand media about a bad period in Ukrainian history – Holodomor, when nearly 10 million people died of hunger.
Olha says New Zealand is very different from her home country. It is smaller than she initially expected but friendly and relaxed.
“New Zealand – it’s a big village, but it’s very nice.”
She came here with her husband, who works, and her daughter who is in high school.
“Now we love New Zealand. We love the ocean. Each weekend we try to go to the ocean.”