I need to buy a raincoat; previous students consider it essential with Auckland’s subtropical climate. I’ve yet to buy a suitcase. Do I go with my duffle bag, a camping backpack, or invest in a fancy rolling suitcase? And how will I acquire my favorite deodorant? It’s a sensitive topic for both my armpits and me, as an avid devotee to my favorite over-the-counter American brand. All of this goes to show how incredibly unprepared I feel the month before New Zealand.
Things are weird. My departure date is February 22nd and I’m back in my hometown. I miss Skidmore’s sunlit campus on my early morning commutes to my internship. My friends have returned to school and started their classes and as I write this article, I sit in my local library. A feeling of stagnancy seems to surround my life. Oddly, it’s my own eagerness for New Zealand that makes this limbo so dreadful.
If you were to enter my bedroom you’d be appalled. The once respected attempt at slimming my wardrobe down before I depart has developed into a textured pigsty of clothing. I’ve completely cluttered my bookshelf with travel guides such that the combination of colorful spines hurts my mother’s eyes. Luggage tags drown in a pile of temporary tattoos and colorful headbands within my drawers. My feelings about travelling have manifested themselves into a wild beast unleashed within my belongings.
My mind feels just as overactive as my room. I’ve read countless articles ranging from reviews of Auckland restaurants to weather predictions for the next six months (if that’s possible). I’ve emailed IES Abroad multiple times about my Visa application, making sure its on track. I feel incredibly proud about the groundbreaking developments in my vocabulary. Travel cheques, outward passage, kia ora, tramping (New Zealand’s term for hiking/backpacking)—words that I was unfamiliar with 3 months ago now preoccupy my brain. As I prepare for this journey huge gaps of knowledge have made themselves apparent and it’s absolutely terrifying.
Yet every doubt and unfinished hem within my brain stems from a bubbling source of excitement. I catch myself smiling on train rides as I daydream about indulging in New Zealand’s fresh produce. In these moments, the nervousness I feel becomes average, regular, and expected. I must remind myself that I’m not supposed to know everything about my abroad experience. If I knew the NZ culture, why would I study abroad here? Why would I travel to a destination familiar to me? It’s the antithesis of my personality. So in good fashion, my sense of self has returned to set my qualms to rest. I’m in control of the infinite details of my study abroad experience. I’ll pack my suitcase with my own needs in mind, including my coveted deodorant and childhood travel pillow. I’ll climb Mt. Tongariro and crawl through Hobbiton, two thrilling destinations on my curated list of adventures that finally will be possible. A fresh sense of nervousness does shake my bones, but my curiosity remains strong.
I’m anxiously waiting my departure. Sometimes I become preoccupied about what my abroad experience might look like and making sure these expectations are realistic. But it seems that as long as I remain my optimistic self, I’ll be okay. I expect social, cultural, and academic difficulties. But I’m confident I will accept them as parts of the journey. So here’s to a month of prepping, earning money, and reflecting as I await my arrival in Auckland, New Zealand.
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<p>Daphne Moskofides is an aggressive typer. Studying English and art history, she wanders Skidmore College often getting distracted by the wonderful fall foliage or impressively reading and walking simultaneously. Don’t worry though, Daphne loves the outdoors, ultimate Frisbee, and writing, so her dexterity and nerdy mind has got her covered. Will Auckland be the next location Daphne finds herself magically lost in? Stay tuned to find out.</p>