Company Logo
Internet Explorer

Sorry! Your browser is not supported.

To view this site you can download a newer version of Internet Explorer.


Graduate Profiles

Japanese Graduate Profile: Nicola Hely

Japanese Graduate Profile: Nicola Hely

Japanese Language Education

Primary and Secondary:

  • From age 11-17 at Kaikorai Valley College in Dunedin
  • 3 months exchange to Aichi, 1 year exchange to Tokyo while still at school



  • Passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test Level 2 at the end of High School
  • Completed the Bachelor of Arts at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT)


Motivation to begin Japanese Studies

When Nicola was choosing which school she would go to after her first few years at primary school, she attended an open night and was fascinated when a Japanese teacher wrote her name in katakana - and so her study of Japanese began. Nicola feels fortunate to have started her Japanese study at an early age at a school that frequently hosted Japanese students.


She visited Japan for the first time when she was 14, attending the World Youth Festival at Dunedin’s sister city of Otaru cementing her love for Japan and the language.


Skills gained as a result of studying Japanese

Nicola initially wanted to become an interpreter, choosing her course accordingly and, although her plans changed, she gained a lot from the listening and speaking practice. Her course also focused on tourism and the use of keigo, both which she found helpful.


Use of Japanese language skills and knowledge in current employment

Nicola works as a Director of International Students at a high school in Canterbury.


In her role for the high school, Nicola looks after the Japanese market as well as others. This involves liaising with study-abroad agencies based in Japan and New Zealand. She travels to Japan regularly to promote the school, and uses her Japanese speaking skills in meetings and at study-abroad education fairs.


At school, Nicola also utilizes her Japanese skills to counsel international students. Hosting short-term tour groups is also a regular occurrence, and Nicola uses her Japanese skills to translate activities, liaise with staff accompanying the group, and help communication with host families.


Previously Nicola worked at an English language school, both teaching English and looking after the Japanese market and students. This also provided plenty of opportunities to use Japanese.


Time spent in Japan and benefits gained

Since Nicola’s initial visit to Japan, she has been numerous times on holiday, visiting friends, and for her work. She says that the short trips at the beginning of her language study really opened her eyes to the completely different world and culture that Japan offers compared to New Zealand. 

She says:

I was touched by the kindness of the people, and it motivated me to study more. The two longer trips, particularly to Tokyo really cemented my language skills. I was really lucky to have one-to-one lessons with a special teacher, but also to make good friends with whom I could practise my speaking all the time.

The visits after that all helped me keep up my language skills, and keep up the friendships that motivated me. 


Using my Japanese for work has also provided a challenge - the need for keigo, and new vocabulary to talk about education.


Contact details: Nicola completed her Japanese studies in 2007 and can be contacted on


Sponsors  With the support of the Embassy of Japan

Contact us today

Please fill out all the required fields.