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Source: Massey University

Massey University PhD student Denisse Sanchez Lozano.

Denisse and Gerardo tie the knot in Mexico

A return to Mexico to get married resulted in a 13-month long stint back home for Auckland-based PhD student Denisse Sanchez Lozano.

While she did manage to tie the knot to husband Gerardo, with New Zealand borders closed, the pair found themselves stuck in Mexico for longer than expected after the wedding. Mrs Sanchez Lozano says she was thankful that she was able to continue working on her PhD while there, though there were challenges such as not having an office and dealing with the Mexican heat.

“Some days I worked in the kitchen, some days the patio and then I managed to set up a kind of office for myself. I had to have a fan pointed right at my face because of the heat,” says Mrs Sanchez Lozano.

Her thesis is looking at the New Zealand policy response to methamphetamine contamination in residential properties, and particularly how it has impacted tenants and landlords. She hopes that her research will help to draw lessons for the future.

While stuck in Mexico, Mrs Sanchez Lozano kept an eye on how policies were evolving in New Zealand regarding re-entry into the country, but said it was difficult to keep up as they were changing all the time. However, when an announcement came in October 2020 that border exemptions would be granted to some international students, she thought it might be her chance.

“Massey got in touch with me to see if I would be interested in being one of the 250 students allowed back into the country. I was, and so we started the complicated process of getting everything in line to come back,” Mrs Sanchez Lozano says.

“We had to apply for new visas, which included getting chest x-rays in Mexico City. We also had to get in touch with Immigration New Zealand and of course arrange our flights and book our stay in the managed isolation facility in Auckland.”

Mrs Sanchez Lozano had to rebook flights for her and her husband three times before they all lined up for re-entry. Then, after their 14 days in managed isolation in Auckland, they were finally able to return to their Auckland home.

Despite the stress and worry she had to deal with throughout the process, Mrs Sanchez Lozano says her supervisors were extremely helpful and she felt supported during her time away from New Zealand. She’s thrilled to be back to somewhat ‘regular’ life now and is working toward submitting her thesis by the end of the year.

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