“Memorable is the word that sums up my time in SBHS. Three years under Shirley Boys’ High School, I have experienced a lot of new things that I will never forget. Coming from a far away country, SBHS has welcomed me with warm arms. They treat me like family and show me what the meaning of “Whānau” is. That helps me a lot in adapting to life far from home. I’ve learned a lot from this school both academically and morally.

I want to send the deepest thanks to all the teachers, staff and friends who are supporting me during my time here. I’ve had a great time and I will never forget you guys.

Finally, here are my words to the incoming students. Enjoy your time in high school because it will go really fast. Learn hard, play hard and always be proud to be a Shirley man.”

Dat Truong, Vietnam

“This is my second year and Shirley’s a great school. I enjoyed my time here. All my teachers are supportive and friendly. The students are very nice and helpful too. I set myself academic goals from the start of the year. I’m proud to say with the help of my teachers and friends I achieved the top year 12 student award with 5 academic excellences. I took part in basketball and debating. I did some volunteer work and was a member of the Global Council. Next year I am excited to have a leadership role in my house group. I’m really looking forward to year 13 and the challenges it brings.”

– Bi, Vietnam

“My name is Den and I’m and international student from Japan. I started attending Shirley Boys High School in January and I have been studying here for ten months now. During my stay here, my English skills have improved a lot. The teachers are very kind and encouraging, and it is a great place for everyone to study. I play the saxophone in the Jazz Band, and everyone is really nice and supportive. I think students can have a really good time by joining a club. I am proud to call myself a Shirley man.”

– Den, Japan

“What I like about Shirley boy is everyone is friendly and helpful. The teachers help me when I need help”

– Phoom, Thailand

“It was a great experience learning in Shirley Boys High School. I played rugby this year. Unfortunately, I got injured through the pre-season but I played few games. They welcomed me and treated me well. I really loved to play for this school and team. Academically, teachers helped me a lot when I was struggling with my work.”

– Juan, Japan

“There are so many friendly teachers. I enjoyed Music because I could study things I was interested in.”

– Kosuke, Japan

“I think Shirley is very good school. The students are kind and helpful. The teachers are very friendly. I had a good time this year.”

– Shunta, Japan

“Everyone is kind and it’s fun to come to school.”

– Kazuki, Japan

“It’s been nearly 1 year since the first time I came to NZ as well as Shirley Boys’ High School. The school has given me lots of experiences that I have not had before in my entire life. Firstly, I made lots of foreign friends, including Kiwi, and a variety cultures. I have learnt lots of special things about their culture and what they think about my culture. Secondly, I have a chance to express myself more as well as get out of my comfort zone. I improved my violin skill. I also learnt a third language. I didn’t think I could achieve that goal before. Thirdly I enjoy my life with my host family and all that they teach me. I enjoy my time here at Shirley and I think it is the most special time in my life as I left my country – Vietnam to explore a new culture, meet new people from around the world and in NZ. I am honestly grateful to be here.”

– Kien, Vietnam

“I still remember the first day when I came to Shirley. I was very worried about friends, but I made some kiwi friends whom I can have a fun conversation with. In fact, I wasn’t able to have a conversation with them because I couldn’t speak English at all. However, one day, I noticed my English skills have been improving since I came to New Zealand. Anyway, I had a great time in New Zealand.”

– Keiju, Japan

“My experience at Shirley boys has been very good. I like the way people are so nice and welcome me into everything. I like the school because its new and different from others. They excel in sports which I like. All the teachers have been good to me and helped me with my journey through this school.”

– Gen, Japan

“I had a great time at Shirley Boys’. I made lots of Kiwi and foreign friends. Teachers are kind to me and they can teach well. I loved being in the table tennis club as I had chances to play with many competitive players. This school gave me opportunities to do new things and to meet new people.”

– Liew, Thailand

“I have had a great time studying at Shirley Boy High school, I got many opportunities to make new friends with the other boys from another countries.”

– Chi Phat, Vietnam

“Teachers are very kind. I am always indebted to them. Thank you, teachers.”

– Seitaro, Japan

“I had a great time as an exchange student. Looking back now there were some hard times but only the good memories remain in my mind. Through my studying abroad experience, I have become more connected to the world, listened to more people’s opinions, faced myself more and thought more deeply than before I left. I feel like I have found what I want to do and what I want to study in the future.”

– Kai – Japan, 1 year exchange student

Year 12 International Student Ken Burkholder created a ‘Guide for international students coming to Christchurch’:

‘Studying in Christchurch is very different compared with Japan, especially the school system. Here at Shirley, we move between classes because every class has students taking different subjects. The way subjects are taught and the activities during the class are also different. We do not just read textbooks and take notes. Actually most subjects do not use textbooks. There are a lot of essays and reports. We don’t do essays or writing reports in Japan so it’s hard to write them, especially in English, but doing this helps you improve your English and think more logically.

Homestay Some families are kind and some are strict. However, you have to appreciate everything your host family does for you and communicate with them. This will lead to a good relationship.

Language is always an issue when you live overseas. I feel the difference in the accent. Maybe this is because I’m half American but sometimes it can be difficult to understand Kiwis. In Japan we mostly study American English so sometimes in New Zealand you hear words you have not heard before like ‘rubbish’ [trash] and ‘lollies’ [candy].

Food is very different. People don’t eat so much rice and miso soup. Instead, we have mostly meat, potato, vegetables and bread. It tastes good but sometimes you may want to have other things.

The main public transport in Christchurch is by bus. There are many routes so you can go almost anywhere but you have to know the bus won’t always come on time. It may be late but the price isn’t so high so it’s a good idea to use it.

Things to do. Christchurch isn’t a big city compared to Japan so there aren’t many places to hang out. However there are lots of places to play sport, hundreds of parks with green grass, as well as nearby places to ski and surf so I recommend outdoor activities here.

Benefits of an overseas experience. You can experience things you will never have in Japan. You can improve your communication when you come here. You don’t know anybody and also your own Japanese family won’t be there so you have to take care yourself and need to talk to somebody if you need help. At the first it may feel hard but, if you don’t give up, I’m sure you will have a good time in Christchurch.’

Talented Year 12 musician Makoto Niino looks back at his three terms in Christchurch:

‘I would like to talk about what I thought while I stayed here.

It is extraordinary that life in New Zealand is not so busy compared with Japan. When I live in Japan, I take a tube to go to my high school. I have four big exams over three terms and my school often finishes at 7:30pm, so I cannot use the Music Department until my band’s shift.

In New Zealand, these things are different, it is more relaxed. I now understand things that I have never thought about in Japan. I am really pleased to mention this.

I think New Zealand’s culture is similar in some ways to Japan. We have not only traditional culture but also recent culture.

My father and my grandfather are Japanese flute players at Kabuki which is one of the Japanese traditions since the Genroku era (from about 1688). I can play the Japanese traditional flute, too. When I arrived at New Zealand, I wanted to tell people about Japanese culture. I played my flute in several local cultural events and at school assembly. I am really proud and pleased that I could perform in front of people from another country and a different culture.

If I had not come here, I definitely could not learn about another culture and compare it with my own. I really want to say “Thank you so much’’ not only to Shirley Boys High School but also to my parents and to my host family. You have reminded me and made me aware of a lot of things, and you have helped me to grow up so much.

I am really proud that I could experience New Zealand life at Shirley Boys’ High School with lots of great people.

Thank you so much, everyone and everything!

Adrien Nobliet visited for a month from France in 2016. His enthusiasm and willingness to try everything not only made his experience special but meant he made great friends at Shirley who have fond memories of him.

‘I wish to communicate appropriately my gratitude to Shirley Boys’ High School and to my Host Family I had during my amazing trip in New Zealand.

During my short life, I had the occasion to visit many countries from many different continents, but my New Zealand impression and experience was very different compared to these ones. I will always remember how kindly I was welcomed in New Zealand : at school by the students and teachers, in my host family and in an indoor soccer team and much more!

I really appreciated the way people took care of me and were so kind with me all the time! Thanks to all of you!

I never thought I could go skiing in August, I did it in New Zealand, that was an awesome moment, I would like to thank the school for bringing me at this ski trip !

There is no doubt that I will keep all these good memories in my mind, the people I met and in New Zealand! Too bad that New Zealand is on the other face of the earth from France. No doubt that I will keep in touch with host my family who welcomed me so well.’