How was New Zealand?
Four months pressed into one word
I have been thinking long and hard about how I will answer that question. I remember being on the other side too, asking friends how their semester abroad was. And now I am realizing just how hard it is to articulate an answer. A one-word reply is insufficient to describe a four-month experience, but I think that’s all that people really want/expect to hear. Great! Awesome! So fun! Sweet as! And that’s probably what I will say if you ask me in passing. Because I am still trying to sort through my own feelings about this past semester. I have thought of a few replies that would throw some people off: I had a baby! I was thrown in jail for indecent exposure! I went on five Tinder dates every week! But knowing myself, I will probably just tell you it was great and that I had a lot of fun.
I cannot describe this semester concisely despite my skill for succinct writing. How was New Zealand? Bear with me as I try to put the past four months into words:
I didn’t come to New Zealand looking for anything. So many people talk about self-growth and change after a semester abroad, but I don’t feel like a different person. I was excited to adventure and see a wee bit more of the world. And I did. There is no doubt in my mind that I learned things about myself, but I don’t think New Zealand caused any changes. I think that being placed in a new environment allowed me to learn things about myself that have always been there. Maybe this semester actually just made me even more of who I already was…if that makes any sense.
I feel relieved in many ways to discover that I am in fact the person that I thought I was. I guess one of my fears in studying abroad was that I would become a different person in a new place, that my surroundings at home were actually what defined me. But I am pleased to announce that I really am just as independent, unique, quirky, passionate, studious, and adventurous as I believed myself to be.
This semester was filled with epic journeys through the most beautiful places that I have ever seen, but I also watched a disturbing amount of Netflix and enjoyed many nights of kitchen dance parties and DIY facemasks with flat mates. There were plenty of highs, but I still cried once or twice. I formed some very close friendships, but I also grew to really miss friends and family back home. As I type this blog in the Auckland airport, I am so emotionally conflicted. I desperately want to want to stay in New Zealand, but I am honestly so ready to be coming home. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that I will come back.
I’ll wrap this up by giving one piece of advice for anyone who plans to go abroad. Whatever you’re passionate about, do that wherever you go. This will make you happy, and keep you happy, even when things aren’t looking so hot. And this will be your way of connecting with the place in which you find yourself. Some of my best moments this semester happened during the 587 miles that I ran here. I am a firm believer in living passionately, and I learned that this is possible no matter where you are in the world.