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In the movies, everyone seems to romanticize the idea of leaving. There’s a certain sense...

Returning Home

In the movies, everyone seems to romanticize the idea of leaving. There’s a certain sense of excitement that comes from leaving a place behind, and people seem to idealize that feeling of escape. But it isn’t always that simple. Leaving New Zealand was hard for me. I met so many amazing people there who really shaped my experience abroad, and having to say goodbye, and realizing that I might never see them again, was difficult. While my departure was bittersweet, I’ve come to realize that the difficulty of leaving New Zealand was a good sign. I’ve been able to learn and grow a lot as a person and if leaving had been easy, it would have meant that my experience wasn’t as meaningful as it could have been. It’s hard to get all the feelings down in words, so here are a few highlights of my trip and my transition back home.

A few memorable moments that made my abroad experience include:

  • Global cuisine night: a 5-course meal where each one of my roommates and I cooked something traditional from our home country.
  • Driving through the Fiordlands. The route to Milford Sound took us through a massive slot canyon covered in waterfalls. It was pouring down rain and there was a layer of mist over everything which made it so magical!
  • Taking a solo trip to the South Island and having my first-ever hostel experience.
  • All of the evening outings spent grabbing dinner and dancing in the CBD.
  • Exploring the natural landscapes of New Zealand and getting to hike in so many different areas.

The 5 things that have bothered me the most about being home are:

  • Not being with all the lovely people I became friends with abroad…
  • Driving. I keep turning on my windshield wipers instead of the turn signal (they were on opposite sides in New Zealand).
  • Going back to school. The work that comes with being in an internship is much different than schoolwork. So is the daily schedule.
  • The change in seasons. Coming from the warm, summer weather to cold, rainy spring days has been a change.
  • Not having as many exciting things to do. Every day was a new adventure in New Zealand and being back in my college town makes everything so familiar.

The 5 things I have enjoyed the most about being home:

  • Getting to see my dog and family again!
  • Spending time with my friends back home!
  • My car. Being able to drive whenever and wherever has been very nice.
  • Being able to apply what I have learned abroad to school, work, and everyday life!
  • How much more confident I feel navigating everything after being abroad.

The 5 international things I miss the most from abroad are:

  • My roommates!! They were some of my best friends in New Zealand and there was never a dull moment in apartment 10. I will miss all the beach days and late-night chats spent with them.
  • The national parks. I got to explore three national parks during my stay, (Fiordland, Mount Cook, and Tongariro), and each landscape was so unique and different compared to the States.
  • The tree ferns! Most natural areas in New Zealand had these giant fern plants that grew in the form of a tree and were so beautiful.
  • How open everyone was to foreigners. Going on weekend trips outside the city meant constantly meeting new people and everyone was so open-minded and kind towards each other.
  • The relaxed and laid-back lifestyle. Most people emphasized having a good work-life balance and prioritizing your health over work.

The 5 things I miss the least since returning home are:

  • The public transit system. While the double-decker busses were pretty fun, I don’t miss the hour-long bus ride back from the city during rush hour.
  • The natural disasters. I got to experience my first cyclone, a flood, and 400 mini earthquakes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to experience them again…
  • How early everything closed. On weekdays most restaurants were closed by 5 pm.
  • How fast my phone died. The service in New Zealand would drain my phone within the first half of the day, even without using it that often.
  • The humidity. Walking to the local grocery store felt like a workout even though it was only a quick walk.