Things Didn’t Go as Planned

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My experience studying abroad in Auckland New Zealand was completely different than what I expected. I went in to the experience very timid and feeling unsure about my decision. Study abroad is very popular at my university, but most people go to a few cities in Europe with a large group of fellow students. I knew right away that this was not an experience I wanted to have. I want to put myself out there and challenge myself. The concept sounded great, but the idea of going 19 hours from home, knowing absolutely no one, was terrifying. I constantly questioned my decision, asking myself if I should have gone abroad with ten of my best friends instead.

After a cancelled flight made my anxiety that much worse, I felt surprisingly welcomed when I got to New Zealand. Thankfully, IFSA had arranged a late bus for me to take me to orientation. I was immediately captivated by the energy of the country. Everyone was so relaxed and friendly. When people noticed, usually right away, that I was American, they made it a point to ask me why I was in New Zealand and ask me if I liked it. The people of New Zealand almost felt responsible for making me feel at home. This continued to be a common theme during my time abroad.

Something really special about my abroad experience was that I got to live with all kiwis. The four of us lived in an amazing flat so close to the city. Once again, like all Kiwis before them, they made it a point to make sure I loved New Zealand. What started out as three almost-representatives of the country ended up being three of my best friends. While living with them, I was completely immersed in New Zealand culture. We shopped and cooked together, so whatever a normal Kiwi ate was now what I ate. They allowed me to ask a billion questions about the country, and clarify strange slang that I had heard the day before. We would watch the local news together every night, and they showed me the best places to go out in the city. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t escape kiwi culture, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

This made me consider several times if this country could be my permanent home. I continued to soak in every experience and all of the culture and realized that I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. If everything goes as planned, I hope to move to New Zealand after graduation to work and then eventually figure out graduate school. New Zealand and the people I have met showed me the importance of slowing down and embracing every moment. Also, who doesn’t want to constantly be surrounded by beautiful beaches, mountains, and volcanoes?

Article by Amanda Carson