Staff Member Spotlight: Bianca Nichol

Title
International Student Advisor

Photos

Bianca is a key member of the International Student Services Office at the University of Waikato. She provides pastoral care and support for incoming Study Abroad and Exchange students, and facilitates orientations, trips, and events.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I live in New Zealand, so to get amazing travel memories, I don't even have to leave our shores! One of my favourite was a spontaneous road trip we took one summer. We chucked our tent in our car, grabbed some clothes, headed North for 5 days of perfect weather and fun.

Driving up the East Coast lead us to spectacular golden sand beaches, big green rolling hills, and deep blue waters. Yes, we stopped in every single bay and swam.

Eventually reaching Cape Reinga, the peak of the North Island, witnessing the converging waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea was breathtaking!

Driving back down the the West Coast was stark contrast - black sand beaches, black choppy waters, but equally as beautiful. It was the best adventure ever!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Each semester we host International Students from around 80 different countries! That's a tonne of new students, cultures, and traditions that I get to absorb and interact with and be part of every year. And each one has opened my mind and shown me the beauty of the world! It's like travelling and exploring the world, again without leaving our shores.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I always marvel at the relationships fostered between students who come here from so many different parts of the world, not knowing anyone, and then leave with friendships that span oceans and time. Also, who knew you could find love by making the decision to spend one semester abroad in New Zealand?!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Hmmm, where do I start? I'd love to do it all, but if I have to choose only one, I pick... Canada! I've never been to that part of the world, and I'd love to explore the pristine beauty of the outdoors, and connect with the indigenous peoples, and the many diverse cultures there. Oh, and maple syrup!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato – the University of Waikato has had strong connections with Kīngitanga and Waikato-Tainui since it was founded in 1964. We even have an annual event, Kīngitanga Day, that honours these special relationships and celebrates the University’s unique identity, distinctive culture and leadership.

The principles of Māoritanga are visibly woven in to fabric of the University strategy and practice. As an individual of indigenous heritage, this makes me proud.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I believe when we put the student and their experience at the center of our work, and combine that with staff who are passionate about the student experience and helping students succeed, the company cannot help but be successful. In the world of International Education, the student experience and their desire to share their positive experience in their home country is integral to our success.