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Student Voice

27 August 2020

The Filipino Nurse Loving New Zealand's Famous Work-Life Balance

The Filipino Nurse Loving New Zealand's Famous Work-Life Balance

As a nurse in the Philippines, Rachel Grace Ang was used to long shifts, stressful environments and few days off. After working like this for two years, she decided to follow in her siblings’ footsteps and try her luck overseas.

Drawn in by stunning scenery, quality education and work opportunities, Rachel moved to Tauranga, New Zealand. She studied a Diploma in Health Service Management at Aspire2 International where she not only learnt about a more accessible healthcare system, but also discovered New Zealand’s famous work-life balance.

“Here, I’ve been able to work hard while still having time to explore this diverse country with family and friends.”

Here is Rachel’s story of living, working and studying in Tauranga.

Growing up in the Philippines

Rachel grew up in Toledo, a city in the Filipino province of Cebu. Among the many things she loves about her home country, Rachel counts the country’s strong family values, the ever-present optimism and tropical sunshine at the top of her list.

Upon graduating from high school, Rachel studied nursing and began her career as a clinical nurse in a hospital setting. She dealt with a wide range of issues, from critical diseases to chronic conditions, working in every department from the emergency room to the post-surgical suite.

“Nursing is such a rewarding profession, you’re always helping people.”

Unfortunately, nurses in the Philippines are notoriously overworked and underpaid and, after two years of hard work, Rachel wanted a change of pace.

Moving to Tauranga

Rachel arrived in New Zealand with her future sister-in-law, Vivien, in February 2018.

“I came here for greener pastures and professional opportunities. I wanted to mold the skills I had started to build in the Philippines.”

Rachel’s brother already lived in Hamilton, and while she also has a sister in Australia, she liked New Zealand’s relaxed lifestyle and focus on work-life balance. She discovered appealing study options in Tauranga, and the city’s weather and beaches sealed the deal.

“I was nervous when I first arrived. All my life, I’ve been seeking my parent’s advice before making a decision. This was my first time standing on my own two feet.”

Studying at Aspire2 International

Rachel began her Diploma in Health Services Management Level 7 at Aspire2 International two weeks after arriving in New Zealand. While she already had nursing training and experience, the programme gave her insight into how the healthcare system works in her new country. She graduated in March 2020.

“We learnt about the Treaty of Waitangi and Maori culture. We talked about health promotion, got to run our own breast cancer campaigns and developed our presentation skills.”

Aspire2 International also exposed Rachel to a variety of nationalities which will goes a long way towards gaining the cultural sensitivities needed to work as a healthcare worker in a multicultural city like Tauranga.

Other lessons from moving abroad

Along with her training and education, working, studying and living abroad has given Rachel a whole host of new skills and life lessons.

“Growing up in a family who always guides you, moving here was like taking off my training wheels. From what food to cook to whether to accept a certain job, I’ve become much more independent.”

Rachel also learnt how to drive on the other side of the road, has developed her English language skills and has learnt the art of a Kiwi email.

Working and studying

As part of her visa, Rachel was able to have a part-time job while studying. Employment specialist Skyla Scott helped her secure a position as a care giver at Bob Owens Retirement Village.

“I support people in the final years of their lives and contribute to their wellbeing. It’s nice to bring them joy and a simple thank you is so heart-warming.”

Most of the residents Rachel looks after require full assistance from feeding to showering to monitoring food intake. But, just as important, she also gives them dignity and makes them feel good.

“It might be taking someone for a walk around the Village, other times it’s just holding their hand.”

The ever-important work-life balance

Having started her career in the Philippines where long shifts followed by few days off were the norm, achieving work-life balance is a priority for Rachel.

Nursing is still a demanding profession, but Rachel appreciates the smaller patient ratios and improved work environment in New Zealand. And while she works very hard, Rachel has found a group of like-minded friends who she gets to enjoy time off work with.

“We’ll go skiing at Mount Ruapehu or spend a weekend in the Coromandel. Having some time off lets you hit the reset button and have something to look forward to at the ened of the week.”

Future Plans

Although Rachel graduated at a tricky time in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, she still plans to work as a nurse one day soon in her new country.

“I have to take my English test and gather some documents from my college back home first. But it is my desire to settle down, build my career and become a permanent resident here in New Zealand.”

In the meantime, she continues to work happily at Bob Owens and enjoy her hard-earned work-life balance.


Join us on Facebook and contact Regional Relationship Manager Melissa Gillingham for more information:

Melissa Gillingham

 Regional Relationship Manager

 Education Tauranga

 Tel: +64 7 571 1401 ext. 707 | Mob: +64 21 724 272    
 Address: Private Bag 13057, Tauranga 3141, New Zealand  
 Email me