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Source: Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology

Liyue Xu is looking forward to finishing his studies after being stuck overseas for months due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Liyue was two years into a three-year degree course at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology when COVID-19 hit New Zealand shores in 2020. The news of the pandemic was a shock and Liyue was nervous about what was in store so quickly returned to China to be with his family. 

He originally came to New Zealand in 2018 and had enrolled to study at Toi Ohomai because he could transfer credits from QDC, an educational institute in China. 

“When I came to Rotorua I was so amazed with all the tourism attractions there. The city itself is so small compared to where I came from, but I quickly found my place here and decided it was where I wanted to live.” 

While Liyue was back in China, the pandemic escalated and New Zealand closed its borders and the country was plunged into lockdown. 

The border closure was sudden and sharp and Liyue, along with thousands of other international students were stuck overseas, unable to return to New Zealand to complete their studies.

The time in limbo was tough for Liyue, who didn’t know if or when he would be able to return to complete his final year of studies.  

In 2021, the New Zealand Government permitted the return of 1000 international students, the criteria were strict and three Toi Ohomai students were approved. 

“I kept in touch with staff who were in charge of international students and they just show patient and professional attitudes in helping me to apply for one of the returning student positions, luckily, I met the requirements of the Immigration Department.”

Liyue was sad to be leaving his friends and family but relieved he was able to return to complete his Bachelor of Applied Tourism and Hospitality. However, upon arriving back in New Zealand he was faced with another setback, being in level 3 lockdown due to a community outbreak of Delta.  

He says his experience in MIQ was good and he was grateful for the staff for keeping people safe. 

“The whole experience was pretty good. I have already experienced isolation life in China in 2020 when I first arrived back.”

Liyue took to the internet to document his MIQ experience, setting up a blog with regular photos and updates of life in isolation. 

But, now he is back on track and once he has finished his studies, he wants to soak up all that New Zealand’s tourism industry has on offer. 

“I want more experiences in the tourism and hospitality industry. I want to learn more about tourism in New Zealand.” 

With borders expected to reopen, Liyue says prospective students shouldn’t give up on their dreams. 

“Get vaccinated and don’t give up on your study, wherever you are. Keep checking in with immigration officials and the Toi Ohomai International Team who are very professional and will guide you.” 

MIL OSI