Reflections on Study Abroad Thus Far
It’s finally starting to hit me that my time in New Zealand is going to be over before I know it. I have 1 week of class, 3 weeks of study break, and 1 week of finals before I’ll be boarding a plane and heading home. This realization is both exciting and saddening at the same time; it’s exciting to think about going home to see family and friends again but at the same time it’s also saddening to think about leaving this beautiful country and the friends I have made during my studies here. There is no doubt that coming here has had a positive effect on my life. I was always an outdoorsy person but feel that I never fully appreciated the area I live in back home. Living here where there are countless spectacular natural vistas within short driving distance has made me wonder why I don’t try to get out to the less explored areas back home. It has definitely made me realize that there are places in the States that are just as beautiful as here that I never appreciated before (It’s just that everything is much closer in New Zealand).
New Zealand also has this effect where it makes you feel like a small child. Being outside exploring new places makes me feel so young and adventurous. I want to climb every tree and hill I see, and feel like a young child exploring a playground for the first time! There’s just so much to do here if you enjoy nature, and even if you don’t enjoy nature I’m sure New Zealand could change your opinion. It’s incredible how one weekend here I can climb a snowy mountain and the next weekend relax on a sandy beach; there’s such a vast array of different environments all packed into one small country!
Although I am excited about going home, I know it is going to be interesting adjusting again to a ‘normal’ life. When I was preparing to study abroad I remember my advisors talking about reverse culture shock and I didn’t quite understand it then. However, I realize what they mean after living here for the semester. I am fully adjusted to the differences in life here and feel comfortable and at home. All the things that seemed so weird at first are normal now and a part of my everyday life. Everything from the weird kiwi accents and different words, to driving on the left side of the road don’t feel foreign anymore. It’s interesting how your view changes after being submersed in a new place for so long. I can easily understand now that it is going to feel weird being home again, almost as if home is a foreign place.
Studying abroad has also helped me to look at things from a global standpoint. It is fascinating to talk to locals about current world affairs as their views are often very different from those you find in the States. I think a good portion of this is because New Zealand is not a dominant world power. They view most world affairs from more of a distance than you would view from the States. It really has been enlightening to live here for a semester and have the chance to see the world from a different perspective.
I honestly can’t believe that I only have a month left here; the time really has flown by. I would not change this experience for anything and strongly encourage anyone thinking about studying abroad to do it. Living here has truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to see what the next month has in store for me before I head home!