New Zealand Embassy Rome, Italy

Working Holiday Scheme Visa - Opening the door to New Experiences

Enza di Lecce

After her degree in Marketing and Communications, Enza di Lecce, 26, decided to leave her hometown in Matera, Southern Italy, to travel to New Zealand on a Working Holiday Scheme Visa. She left Italy with a 30 kilogram suitcase and a good measure of optimism and courage and headed for Auckland, New Zealand. This is her story, so far.

Tell us about yourself
My name is Enza di Lecce, I am 26 years old, and I was born, raised and live in Matera.  After my degree in Marketing and Communications, I attended “Women Managers in Tourism”, a high level course promoted by the Basilicata Region aimed at encouraging women entrepreneurship in the tourism sector.  This experience inspired my love for the tourism business (or perhaps it was always part of me).  I became particularly interested in hospitality management and this led me to work as an intern in two large business hotels; one in Milan and one in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Where are you now? And how long have you been there for?
After these two wonderful semi-working experiences ended, I felt the need and the desire to learn English, face new challenges, meet new people and find new working opportunities (in one word: travel).  I chose New Zealand and have been here for the last ten months thanks to the bilateral Working Holiday Visa Scheme.

Where did you learn about the Working Holiday Visa Scheme?  Was it easy to obtain?
I learned about the possibility of living and working in New Zealand for a year thanks to a website on European exchanges  The website features articles on working opportunities in Europe and around the world.  Without thinking twice about it since I met all the requirements, I visited the website, made my online application, paid approximately 75 Euro by Credit Card, and I obtained my visa!!

Was it difficult to find a job in New Zealand, what jobs did you do?  How did you find them?  What advice would you give to young people looking for a job in New Zealand?
After hugs and teary goodbyes on my departure from Italy, I arrived in Auckland on 17 March 2012 with a large 30 kilogram suitcase and a good measure of optimism and courage.  I travelled alone but I was soon greeted, helped and welcomed by all the nationalities of the world.  In the first days after my arrival, I lived in a very clean and cheap hotel in the heart of Auckland.  After a week, I found accommodation with other people of different nationalities thanks to the website  (a really useful website if you are looking for accommodation, a job or any other thing on sale).  I worked for two months in Auckland as a waitress in an Italian and in a Kiwi restaurant, three months during the winter season in Queenstown as housekeeper for mini apartments and three months in Wellington as a waitress in a five star hotel.

Did it take you long to get settled in on arrival? Was it difficult to open a bank account or to request an IRD Code?
In order to work in New Zealand you must open a bank account.  It was free of charge and it took me five minutes to open.  I then went to the Post Office where I requested my Inland Revenue Department (IRD) tax number.  You need an IRD number in order to be hired to work and to pay taxes.  To request an IRD number you need to provide evidence of your Working Holiday Scheme visa, a European driver’s licence, your passport and the number of your bank account.  After two weeks I received the IRD number by mail.

For the first two weeks spent in Auckland I experienced some difficulties in finding a job and also in Queenstown.  This was largely due to my poor English but also because in Queenstown there is a lot of competition for jobs during the winter season.

However, after the initial difficulties, finding a job was really easy.  It was sufficient to acquire more confidence in speaking English, to be more determined in presenting my candidature for jobs, and a bit of optimism and adaptability (being a housekeeper wasn’t exactly my dream but I needed a job).  I believe these were the four necessary ingredients thanks to which, after only three days, I was able to find a brilliant job in Wellington.

Is it easy to find Barilla Pasta, Nutella, Parmesan cheese or Illy coffee?
Sometimes it is incredibly easy to find Italian products in New Zealand supermarkets, others it is virtually impossible.  In any case, the food in supermarkets is very fresh and very good.  Of course finding Mozzarella cheese remains a dream but it is possible to find a great variety of foods from all over the world in both restaurants and supermarkets.

Did you know English well before leaving for New Zealand?
Before arriving in New Zealand my English was at an elementary level.  I was able to have poor conversations and could understand about 25% of what was being said partly because of the New Zealand accent.  I saw the first improvements when I started working, further improvements after six months and the most satisfactory ones after ten months.  Now people are full of compliments for my English and they really adore my Italian accent (a bit too much for my liking).  After ten months I realize I am perfectly able to enjoy a social and working life without speaking a word of Italian.

What surprised you, what did you like and what did you miss during your stay in New Zealand?
I can’t deny I miss the smell of my home, the warmth of my wonderful family and friends, the unmistakable taste of Matera bread, of Taralli, and of our typical cuisine. I also miss going for walks and enjoying Matera’s history, beauty, tradition and genuineness.

However, this is a time for new experiences and I am in paradise. New Zealand, with its beaches, mountains, hills, colours, animals, farms, nature, wildlife and Maori population, is truly a paradise.  I also really like and am amazed by the Kiwi mentality; their pragmatic approach and the Kiwi life style.  Here, it is normal to change jobs, without worrying too much about what you do or how much you earn.  The important thing is to do what you want, always allowing for sufficient time and money to travel, hobbies and all kinds of sports.  I have met many adults who, after raising four children, at 60, continue to experience new challenges by changing jobs and even cities.

People don’t live for their families like in Italy.  Family is important but after High School, young people go their own way and are 100% independent both economically and for making decisions about themselves.  I love the openness of this young country of many cultures, ethnic groups and opportunities.  Here, you aren’t considered different and you make a difference.  For instance, thanks to my charismatic Italian personality and my passion and knowledge of the hospitality industry, I received much positive feedback about my job and I was also able to suggest some working improvements.  I also believe that if extreme sports facilities were opened in my city a New Zealander would represent the ideal instructor/coach and would contribute to attracting tourism and creating new jobs.

Facing the world helps you to enhance and to build on your qualities and to improve or leave behind your faults and make new discoveries.  It frees you from set frames of mind and allows you to be open to new horizons/opportunities.  I adore New Zealand because somehow the land doesn’t belong to anyone but it belongs to all those who want to discover it.

What is the most important thing you have learned from this experience?
The most important thing I learned from this experience is precisely this, facing new experiences to improve yourself, learn and teach new things.  As far as I am concerned, I still need time to live new experiences to strengthen my personality and my abilities but one day I will go back to Italy and teach/share/pass on everything I have learned.  I also really appreciate now what it means to help foreigners.  I can’t even begin to explain the kindness of the people who have helped me during these months.

Would you recommend the Working Holiday Scheme to other young people?
The Working Holiday Scheme Visa is a great tool for growing both personally and professionally.  I am grateful to New Zealand and Italy for giving me this opportunity and I can’t recommend it highly enough to whoever is willing to get a 30 kilogram suitcase ready to leave and then return, when the time is right, to the uniqueness of Italy!!

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