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Moving your family for your PhD

Friday, 11 March 2016 9:36am

Wan Noraini Wan Mansor
Wan Noraini Wan Mansor

It would be difficult to find a more experienced international student than Otago’s Wan Noraini Wan Mansor, or one more interested in other international students’ families.

Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wan already holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management/Administration from Purdue University, Indiana, USA and a Masters in International Health from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She is now now pursuing a PhD in the University of Otago School of Business’s Department of Management.

Wan is supported in her studies by her husband Zahari Mohamed, son Muhammad Adam Danial (9), and daughters Nur Arissa Safiya (8) and Nur Adeena Aysha (4), who travelled with her to Dunedin in January 2012.

Given that her PhD concerns ‘The Settling-in Experience of International PhD Students’ Trailing Partners within New Zealand’, having her family with her is especially poignant for Wan.

“Both me and my husband have decided to take a career break for three years and travelled thousands of miles away from home with our three children to New Zealand; just to enable me to pursue a PhD degree and for him to accompany me throughout my study duration,” she says.

“The experiences of trailing partners of international postgraduate students have rarely been studied since international education became a common occurrence worldwide.

“It is undeniable that, for a dual-career couple having a career break, New Zealand sounds fascinating as a holiday getaway. But, how would it be if you have to leave your current job just to follow your partner to advance their academic degree abroad? Would it still be a great, once in a lifetime experience?”

Wan says she is very grateful to the New Zealand government for granting her an NZAid Commonwealth Scholarship to study in New Zealand, but there were other signs that encouraged her to study at Otago.

“I have got the blessings from my dear father. In my culture, we always believe ‘the parents’ prayers will ease whatever you do’. My late mom once mentioned that she hopes to have another "Doctor" in the family, too. I have also always wanted to have a living and studying experience in another country of Oceania.

“I have two great supervisors – Professor Steven L. Grover and Dr Paula O’Kane - and I also think the University of Otago is the most efficient university in liaising with the international students in New Zealand. Two thumbs up for the excellent service!”