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James Kang

Construction Student

James Kang

Originally from Seoul, Korea, James Kang was looking to pursue his interest in Quantity Surveying, but also live a quieter lifestyle. This brought him to UCOL in Palmerston North.James (whose Korean name is Seong Woo) served as Captain of an engineering company in the Republic of Korea Army. This gave him his first taste of quantity surveying and contract administration.

He followed up his army stint with two years of teaching Korean in China before deciding to pursue Quantity Surveying further.

James’ wife had also served in the army as a Nursing Officer and wanted to study Nursing in New Zealand. UCOL in Palmerston North appealed to them both as they wanted a much quieter lifestyle than what they were used to. Palmerston North’s population is approximately 89,000 compared to just under 9 million people in Seoul.

“Korea is a very busy country and we wanted to find somewhere quiet and well-developed for education. Palmerston North is exactly that kind of city,” says James.

James completed UCOL’s New Zealand Certificate in English Language (Level 4), which made him feel more confident and improved his conversational skills. He enjoyed learning English in a multicultural environment, with classmates from India, China, and Cambodia.

James is now working towards the New Zealand Diploma in Construction (Quantity Surveying Strand). He’s enjoying learning more about budgeting for construction and the difference between the industries in New Zealand and his home country

“Korean construction and New Zealand construction are quite different. In New Zealand, especially residential housing, the base is a timber structure, but in Korea we used concrete for residential construction as well as commercial. The construction materials and methodology are different.”

James’ high quality work, methodical approach, and great communication skills lead to him being nominated for a New Zealand Institute of Building (NZIOB) Student Achievement Award. Attending the awards was a highlight for James, as he walked away with a merit award.

James says he has received great support from his lecturers who create a family-like atmosphere in their classrooms.

“The biggest support is the lecturers. They are really kind and support their students. I’ve had this in the English and Construction courses.  When I’ve had problems or need help with something, they’ve always made the time.”

Once he finishes his diploma James wants to work in Palmerston North and spend time volunteering his skills in developing countries with his wife.

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