Chinese born Blue Mountain College pupil Ruixuan Juan is flourishing in the Kiwi lifestyle.
The 17-year-old moved to West Otago from China two years ago and has found the balance of academic and social life the perfect foil for success.
“The Education and way of life here is a lot different. In China,[the focus] is more about academics and school work – study and study. Here, you can study and … do sport at the same time; just enjoy life. You’re still learning the stuff at the same time.”
Ruixuan has taken up rugby and netball and her schoolwork has not suffered. She passed level 1 and level 2 NCEA with excellence in 2014, being named premier scholar for level 1 and top scholar for level 2.
She is most passionate about physics and hopes to study engineering at Canterbury University next year.
But it is her cultural achievements Ruixuan is most proud of.
She completed the Toastmasters youth leadership programme last year, was in the school production Grease and is a peer support leader. She also completed a shearing course during NCEA level 2.
These experiences had taught her how to be a leader and increased her confidence.
“I like to try, even if it’s really hard for me. When I was shearing – people laughed at me about it because they thought ‘you’re a little girl, how can you do the shearing course?’.
“When I came here I was shy and not confident enough to talk to people, but I then made a lot of friends and they helped me.”
Ruixuan said her father, who is living in China with the rest of her family, was an obvious role model. He entered the army in China as a teenager without finishing school but has now completed a university degree in mechanics.
‘He has inspired me to never give up.”
Maria Rodriguez Chacon from Costa Rica
and Martin Vazquez Jones from Argentina
Maria Jose Rodriguez Chacon
My name is Maria and I'm from Costa Rico. At the moment I am living in New Zealand with the van Woerdan family. The difference between Costa Rico and New Zealand is that the people of New Zealand are crazy and friendly. I am really enjoying my time here and I don't want to go back home. But I am going home to go to University. I will miss this school. It has been the best year of my life which I will remember all my life. Thanks, because all the moments were perfect and because the people were special to me.
Martin Vazquez Jones
I am Martin and I'm from Argentina. I come from a country a little different to New Zealand. I came with the idea of meeting a new culture, and have a lifetime experience. I lived my first few months of the exchange in Invercargill, but needed a change. Sometime later I changed family and moved to Tapanui where I have lived with the best family I could ever have and that made me happy for the rest of the exchange. Blue Mountain College is a great school where I have found very nice and friendly people that I will never forget. I had a lot of fun and I am very glad for being part of this wonderful school.
Blue Mountain College is a traditional co-educational school that caters for students from Year 7 to Year 13. We have excellent teachers, a modern curriculum and first class facilities in a beautiful, spacious, rural environment. Our greatest advantage is our small numbers. With only 225 students, we are one big, happy family in which each individual is given all the attention and support they need. Priority is given to ensuring that the size and location of the school does not impact on student's ability to participate in a wide variety of learning experiences. This includes an emphasis on promoting student's wider-world view.
International students are warmly welcomed into our safe and friendly school. Each international student has an individual programme prepared in order to achieve their academic and life goals. International students are provided with every opportunity that our ‘Kiwi’ students experience, plus more! (see our Outdoor Experience page)
We always aim to have a balance of cultures represented in our school and so have international students from around the world including currently, Costa Rica, Argentina and Nepal.
Please contact us personally for further information.
Mrs Gloria McHutchon (Cert.TEAL)
Director of International Students/ Homestay Co-ordinator
Blue Mountain College is known as a safe school. We provide excellent learning opportunities for all of our students, both international and domestic.
Last year we received an excellent ERO report from the Ministry of Education, which emphasized our excellent strategies to adhere to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. In their report the Ministry of Education ERO team noted that;
“The school has a positive culture. Respectful relationships are a strong feature across the school. Students are supportive of each other. Junior students appreciate the help of older students as they settle into the school. Students and their families are well known to staff. Teachers have clear expectations for learning and behaviour. The school's values are evident in practice across the school. The school has a close and valued relationship with the local community. Students benefit from the effective use of local expertise and resources". Education Review Office
A number of our International students have gone on to complete a double degree at a University in NZ after leaving Blue Mountain College. All go on to further study to achieve their goals.
We have excellent facilities including an ESOL classroom and a senior common room. Other facilities include computer suites/graphic design suite; science, chemistry and physics laboratories; music rooms, library and specialist technology rooms. There is a gymnasium, a school hall, access to the community swimming pool and extensive sports grounds. There is an 18 hole golf course next to the school grounds which is free for the students’ use. In fact all community facilities are available for school use, including our nationally renowned production theatre with excellent sound and lighting equipment.
We are situated in a wonderful natural setting, within the town of Tapanui, bordered by hills, forests and beautiful farmland, between Invercargill, Queenstown and Dunedin and just 30 minutes drive to the town of Gore. We can arrange to meet and collect students arriving via the International airports at Queenstown or Dunedin..
Link to map
There are two requirements for entry. Firstly students need to sit our Placement Test. Secondly students need to present a copy of their two most recent school reports.
English Language Requirements
A minimum level of English language is needed. This will be established when students sit our assessment test on arrival and then we arrange appropriate ESOL classes. We have an ESOL teacher who provides help for all levels of English ability. We can also provide a separate programme for students wishing to sit TOEFL, IELTS or Cambridge qualifications. Extra one-to-one help is available on request.
The priority at Blue Mountain College is excellence in teaching and learning. The highly professional staff is committed to providing encouragement and individual assistance to our students in order that they achieve to their potential.
All students will be enrolled in our ESOL course. The Blue Mountain College ESOL programme is designed to meet the needs of a diverse group of students. Classes are small (usually 4-8 students) and taught by a fully qualified and experienced ESOL teacher.
Our ESOL course includes:
- supporting students in their other subjects
- offering assessments in NCEA Level 2 English
- teaching the students the skills needed for success in future academic study at a tertiary level
- preparing students for IELTS or other external examinations
Students will be offered preparation classes for a variety of tertiary requirements, including National Certificate of Educational Achievement [NCEA] and IELTS if necessary.
Entry to New Zealand Universities
Students are required to pass at least 14 credits in each of 3 subjects at Level 3, NCEA and 4 credits in reading and 4 in writing at Level 2 English, a minimum of 14 credits in Level 1 Maths, NCEA. NZQA University Entrance
There is a wide range of subjects available at each year level.
There is a wide variety of seasonal sports available including Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Cricket, Cross-country, Football, Golf, Hockey, Horse Riding, Ice Hockey, Mini-Ball, Moto-Cross, Mountain Biking, Multi Sport, Netball, Orienteering, Rugby, Skiing, Softball, Tennis, Touch, and Indoor and Outdoor Bowls. There are music groups including Kapa Haka and bands. Art and Drama are strengths of our school and we have a drama production each year.
We have a staff member directly responsible for taking care of all of our international students’ needs. Mrs Gloria McHutchon is responsible for the students’ orientation and she also arranges for the student to have a “kiwi buddy” in the first few weeks to help the student settle into our school culture. We also offer help in arranging student finances, visas and medical insurance and support for students wanting to go on to tertiary institutions. We provide regular updates on each student’s progress to parents.
We are a signatory to the Code of Practice for the Pastoral Care of International Students. Copies of this code are available in several languages at The Ministry of Education - International Education
We provide homestay accommodation for NZ $220 per week. Mrs Gloria McHutchon, takes care of accommodation and associated requirements, and all accommodation is in carefully selected, safe homestays. Homestay families are located within the Tapanui township within walking distance of the school, or in the surrounding countryside where the student can use the free school bus service. Most homes are single storey with a garden.
We work hard to ensure that the homestay arrangement is a positive and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Photo to come..
Additional information is contained in our prospectus, click here to load the prospectus page.
The school year
All New Zealand schools have a four-term year. The year begins near the beginning of February and ends in early December for the junior school and mid-November for senior students. Senior exams are held throughout November and early December. We strongly recommend that students arrive in time for the start of the school year, when course work begins.