It is very sad to think that my time in New Zealand is really over. I have been home for about two weeks and it has been amazing seeing friends and family, but I have definitely experienced some reverse culture shock. It is strange driving everywhere, especially on the other side of the road. I have had a couple of close calls when crossing the street because looking right first had become second nature and I miss being able to walk anywhere my heart desires. I have been trying to walk as much as I can around my town but whenever I do someone I know pulls over to the side and asks me if I need a ride and it is awkward when they are taken back by my “No thank you” as an answer. They are probably thinking, “This girl is crazy for walking around in business attire in 90 degree weather,” but I still enjoy it. At least all of Westchester, New York is on a completely flat plain and I do not have to struggle up hills like I did in Auckland. It is strange having a large house to be responsible for, rather than just my small room. And I actually miss hand-washing my dishes.
Door to door it took me 27 hours of travel time before I finally arrived home and 10 days for my body to adjust to the time difference. When I arrived in New Zealand in February I did not experience any jet lag and I was in for a rude awakening when I got home. Since I have been home I have been working for a Real Estate Development Firm and have been trying to prepare myself for my next journey. I have submitted my visa applications for Russia, India and China and am still working on my visas for Thailand and Vietnam. Knowing I am studying abroad next semester is the only thing keeping me from being depressed that my first semester abroad is over. Ever since I studied abroad in high school, the anticipation of studying abroad in college has been building inside of me. I am just completely fascinated with seeing new places, meeting new people and learning about new cultures.
Aside from my slight reverse culture shock, I have picked up at home like I was never gone. When my friends ask me to tell them about my time in New Zealand, it is extremely difficult to isolate one instance and talk about it. I was in New Zealand for 126 days and each one was exciting and different, how could I tell someone about all of those days?
Studying in New Zealand has been one of the best decisions I have ever made because I needed the 4 months and 6 days to learn, see and accomplish all that I had. Here is just a brief list of some of the things I did this semester:
- Learned about Maori culture and history
- Went Zorbing (Rotorua)
- I rode a wave on a surf board (Raglan)
- Went Black Water Rafting in Glow Worm Caves (Waitomo)
- Went to The Shire from the Lord of the Rings Film (Hobbiton)
- Stood on a Glacier (Fox Glacier)
- Bungy Jumped at the World’s First Bungy Site in Queenstown (Karawau Bridge)
- Went Skydiving at Sunrise at 12,000 feet over the Bay of Islands (Bay of Islands)
- Burnt my feed at the Hot Water Beach (Coromandel Penninsula)
- Went on countless hikes including the Pinnacles and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Climbed to the summit of 3 different volcano and saw countless others (Mt. Eden, North Head, Rangitoto)
- Held a Lamb, Kangaroo and pet a Koala (Rotorua, Blue Mountains)
- Saw Penguins and Seals (Dunedin)
- Jumped off the Auckland Sky Tower (Auckland)
- Climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Sydney)
- Learned how to grocery shop for a week at a time
- Finally understand how hard it is to have to cook every meal for myself
- Saw the most incredible sun sets
- Looking right before crossing the street became instinct
- Spent an entire weekend eating Fergburger (Queenstown)
- Went to a performance at the Sydney Opera House (Sydney)
- Ate a Hangi (Rotorua)
- Attempted to sunbathe at Bondi Beach (Sydney)
- Actually wore a Toga to a Toga Party (Auckland)
- Saw a man shearing a sheep (Rotorua)
- Walked around the Parliment Building and learned all about NZ Parilament (Wellington)
- Saw countless amounts of waterfalls
- Driving on the left hand side of the road feels all too natural
- Ran a 5K (Auckland)
- Became great friends with 18 people that were strangers just 5 months ago
The list of things I will miss about New Zealand is endless and only myself and my 18 wonderful travel companions and friends will really understand what the country has given to us. Before coming to New Zealand I never could have imagined all of the increible opportunities I would have. I didn’t realize just how much the country had to offer us. But after spending every weekend in a different city, tackling a new adventure and falling even more in love, this country will always have a special place in my heart. Two weeks ago I did not say goodbye to the country or to my friends, we were merely parting ways until we meet again.
It is crazy to be back in America moving my way into my senior year of college and finally being 21. I now understand how much the world has to offer and I cannot wait for all of my future travels.