I am back in the big state of Texas for the holiday break. Has the change been difficult? In some ways, yes, but in others, no. The jet lag absolutely sucks (there's no escaping it). But, I know I'll adjust soon. I am driving a car again, which seems inefficient and environmentally unfriendly compared to the extensive bus, train, and ferry system in Auckland. I do miss my favorite New Zealand foods (meat pies, fish and chips, and hokey pokey ice cream!). Still, I am so excited to be eating good Tex-Mex and going to my favorite restaurants again.
Most of all, I am missing the warm New Zealand summer and all of the amazing people I met abroad! After spending an entire semester seeing my IES Abroad friends almost every day, it has been difficult not seeing them anymore. Maybe, I'll see them in the US or New Zealand in the future...who knows!
I did get to spend some more time with the friends I made who live in New Zealand before coming home. The best thing about traveling is that when you know people in another country, you always have somewhere to stay. So, I spent my last few weeks in New Zealand after school ended hopping between friend's houses on the North Island. After lounging on the beach and hanging out with friends all day, returning home to a chilly winter was a big change!
Overall, I'm happy to be around my family and friends at home again. It hasn't been overly difficult being back in the United States. I think traveling so much for the past 5 months has increased my flexibility and ability to adjust quickly. Though being home is much less fast-paced and exciting than being abroad has been, it's been nice just to relax and catch up with friends.
After telling stories about my adventures in New Zealand, I've realized how much I value the opportunity I've had to study abroad. I was able to explore almost the entire country and travel internationally during breaks. Though I did prioritize my classes, I spent much more time trying new things and going on weekend adventures than I would have if I'd been in the US. This semester has been a whirlwind of learning and growing: I discovered how to travel alone, how to make friends wherever I was, and find a place to call my home away from home.
For those thinking about studying abroad: do it!! Especially if you're considering Auckland or anywhere in New Zealand (though I may be a little biased). No matter what your major is, I truly believe you can work abroad into your university experience, and you absolutely will not regret it. I can't wait to return to Auckland in the future!
This is my last blog post with IES Abroad, but if you'd like to keep up with more of my travels or have any questions about studying in Auckland, my Instagram is @isabellegalko.
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<p>I am a sophomore anthropology major and pre-med student at Southern Methodist University. I love hiking, camping, rowing, and exploring new places!</p>