I did not expect all the things that I would do and experience while studying abroad in New Zealand. I actually wasn’t very ambitious in the beginning. I arrived in Auckland with the simple goals of taking classes, meeting new people, and learning about Kiwi culture. I thought that I would spend all my time in Auckland, studying and hanging out with new friends. But once I got to Auckland, I realized there were so many more opportunities that I hadn’t expected.
There are so many beautiful places to explore in New Zealand. Spending all my time in Auckland would have been a crime. In the span of four months, I traveled from the most northern point of the North Island to the most southern point of the South Island. I saw beautiful caves sparkling with glowworms and a beach where hot water bubbles out of the sand. These are things I was not expecting- I didn’t even now they existed before I came to NZ.
For the first couple of months in NZ, I felt pressured to travel. I saw on Instagram and Facebook all the amazing places other IES Abroad students were going, and I felt like I was behind. When we had a pizza meeting towards the beginning of the term, our program director asked who had been to Rotorua, and more than half of us raised their hands… but not me. I eventually did take a road trip to Rotorua (and made a blog post about it). It was amazing and I’m glad I went, but a big part of my motivation for doing it was because everyone else did it. For the first few months, I worried that I wasn’t making the most of my time in NZ, and it was incredibly important to me that I use my limited time wisely and experience as much as possible.
I might never come back to New Zealand. Knowing that, my time here has felt very precious and valuable. It causes me a bit of anxiety, and a feeling of having to be busy all the time. I’ve had to learn how to slow down and just enjoy being here- even if I’m just sitting in my flat. I also realized that traveling all the time just isn’t right for me. Traveling is stressful, and I personally need time to stay home and relax without worrying about going somewhere new every weekend. If other people like to be constantly traveling, that’s great for them, but that lifestyle isn’t right for everyone.
There’s so much to see and do in NZ, it’s impossible to do it all in one semester. That means I’ve had to make some sacrifices. I never managed to see a kiwi, even though I really wanted to. I didn’t see any glaciers, or have time to hike around Cape Reigna. But I have to learn to let that go, and be grateful for the experiences I did have.
I didn’t see a kiwi, but I did see a tuatara and a kea. I visited two oceans, climbed volcanoes, ate amazing food, and met lovely people. What’s there to be disappointed about?