Climbing into my last month in Auckland, New Zealand, I have been thinking a lot about how I will talk about this country after I am gone. When I put 8,000 miles between me and this country I’ve called home for 4 months, how will I remember it? I wonder if I’ll insert Kiwi vocabulary into my daily life. If I’ll have a friend that’ll look at me sideways and go, “Swimming togs? Don’t you mean swimming suit?” or if I’ll from hereon in refer to a kitchen counter top as the “bench,” or if when thanked I’ll remark “it’s all right,” rather than “you’re welcome.” There are things I have been immersed in while I’m here that I have tried my best to embrace. When I leave, will I forget?
I cannot imagine forgetting how much of an Eden this city is. Like, there’s this garden I walk past to the bus stop that never fails to fill my head with its fabulous fragrance. Every time I step out the sliding doors at my home-stay, I hear a bird call I’ve never noticed before. That view from the head of Symonds Street where you look into the distance and see the turquoise waters of the harbor past the Domain feels permanently painted onto my mind.
I’ll remember the foods, some more fondly than others. I’ll remember eating fish and chips and drinking L&P (NZ’s signature soft drink) at sunset on a rainy street in Devonport. I’ll be happy I tried a mousetrap, which is an open-faced sandwich consisting of baked beans in tomato sauce with cheese on top, but I may not eat one again. I will desperately miss spectacularly fresh sushi, the most reliable and affordable meal you can buy in the city. Back in Minnesota, in the middle of North America, you just can’t get sushi like that. I’ll miss tip-toeing through the grass in the mornings to fetch a fresh egg from the chicken coop.
I am not certain I’ll miss Auckland’s unpredictable weather, or at least the rain. When the sun comes out, it’s always worth it: all the greenery shines, and the air smells so clear. But I cannot imagine living every winter without a blizzard, like the one Minnesota got last week.
I think what I might leave with is a sense of nostalgia for the home that this country has been for me since July. One unforgettable part of my experience here has been my host family. All my memories with them, all the ways they’ve effortlessly made me part of their family, will be woven into my memories of this country forever. Coming home to a cat on my bed and a two-and-a-half-year-old that greets me warmly has been incredibly important to my time here. Visiting Auckland landmarks with people that have childhood memories there made the landmarks so much more beautiful. It will be interesting, this last month here, but I have a feeling it will be gone before I know it.