Goodbye New Zealand, Hello USA

Katelyn Steike
July 28, 2014

Being back in the States is so strange.  My semester was everything I hoped it would be and more.  I’m really going to miss New Zealand with its beautiful mountains, breathtaking coastlines, and multitudes of sheep everywhere you go.  It think though, that I’m going to miss the people I met there more than anything else.  I made some amazing friends while abroad, and the funny thing is that against my expectations, many of them weren’t Kiwis, but they weren’t all from the States either.  I made a few Kiwi friends, but I definitely bonded more with international students because we were all interested in traveling and often traveled together.  A lot of them were from America, but I also made friends from China, Germany, France, England, Denmark, and many other places.  It’s amazing to know that if I travel in the future, I have a couch I can crash on, or friends that can show me around their countries.

After my semester ended, I was sad to say goodbye to all my study abroad friends, but excited because I was staying an extra 3 weeks to travel.  It was weird watching all my friends go home when I wasn’t.  I went to the airport to see them off, but felt really strange not getting on a plane myself.   I’m glad I didn’t though because instead, my boyfriend and I traveled around New Zealand and Australia for 20 days.  It was  an incredible experience and I’m sad that it has come to an end.  When it was finally time to go home, I was definitely more ready to leave.

One word of advice I can give to future travelers:  a suitcase is really worth spending the extra money for a decent one.  Coming home, I was allowed to check 2 bags for free, but I only brought one to NZ.  I had a lot of extra things I bought in New Zealand, so I had to buy an extra bag to go home with.  I made the poor choice to shop at the Warehouse (basically NZ version of Walmart).  I found a rolley-suitcase on sale for $25 and imagine my excitement.  But as they say, you get what you pay for.  If I only had my one flight home, it would have been fine, but dragging it all over New Zealand and Australia was another story entirely.  After wheeling it around for awhile, the wheels started to get worn down.  After our first flight, when I was dragging it to the bus station, imagine my sadness when someone came up to me and said “excuse me, this fell off your bag”… holding the wheels that were once attached to my bag.  From then on, I had to carry the 20kg bag around by the handle… which also slowly started to break.  By the time we got to the next hotel, the adjustable handle also fell off.  On the plus side, it took about a kilogram off the weight of the bag, so I could fit more souvenirs in. By our next stop, the handle on the side of the bag was also breaking, and I had to resort to picking it up and carrying the giant rectangular bag with  my arms wrapped around it, while sumultaneously carrying my other bag and my backack.  Luckily, my boyfriend was nice enough to trade some luggage with me, and carry the messed up suitcase a lot of the time.  By the time I got the bag home, I had lost the wheels, the handles, there was a hole that luckily I was able to sew up and the seams were starting to come out.  By some miracle, it made it all the way back to New York, even if not in one piece, and after unpacking I gladly threw it in the garbage.  It was certainly an experience, dragging that suitcase all around two countries, and I’ll be happy to spend the extra $5o next time to get a suitcase that won’t self destruct.

Now that I’m back home, I’m nostalgic for New Zealand, but also really happy to be back.  It’s a weird mixture of feelings.  The plane ride was more painful than the one on my way there since I wasn’t as excited to be heading to a brand new place like I had been, and this flight was in the middle of the afternoon, rather than overnight, so I didn’t really sleep.  Luckily, since I didn’t sleep on the plane, I haven’t been jet-lagged because I was tired enough to go to sleep that night when I got home.

Things that are different and things I miss:

  • I miss Anzac cookies and Tim Tams.  My taste buds will forever remember them. 
  • The silliest little things, like the way to flush the toilet.  I first look for the buttons I’m used to in New Zealand and then realize I’m back to the good old levers on the side, and then realize that in my head I just pronounced it like leeever rather than the american pronunciation.  
  • I miss being old enough to just go out for a beer with friends. (One more month till I’m finally 21)
  • I miss the laid back lifestyle and no stress attitude people have there.  
  • I miss spontaneous trips with people I’ve only known for a few months, yet are still good friends.  I miss always having something fun to do or somewhere to go on a weekend.  
  •  I miss school being laid back and casual and not having to spend all (or any) of my time studying for my classes.  For that matter, I miss taking incredible classes like rock climbing and kayaking.  They were such great experiences and I’m really glad I got to take them abroad. 
  • I miss never sitting in a traffic jam since there are mostly only one lane roads and most drivers in NZ are considerate if they are going slow and will pull over to let you pass. 
  • I got used to driving on the left side of the road and the drivers side being on the right rather than the left.  I think the weirdest thing coming back home is that even though I’ve been driving on the right hand side for my entire life, it seems weird now.  Being home again, I’ve freaked out a few times thinking I’m on the wrong side of the road, when I’m not.  The worst part is definitely that the blinker and windshield wipers signals are on opposite sides in New Zealand.  It took me about a week to get used to it in New Zealand, but now that I’m back, I keep turning on my windshield wipers every time I go to signal.


Why I’m happy to be home:

  • It’s SUMMER!  When I left, we were just starting to see snowfall in the mountains in New Zealand.  It wasn’t winter by New York standards, but was certainly getting chilly.


  • I really missed my family.  I was lucky enough that my parents were able to visit me over my mid-semester break, but it was only for a week and I missed them a lot.  It was really  nice getting off the plane and having my parents waiting for me with my favorite lindzertart cookie, rather than trying to find a bus or train to take me to the next place like I’ve been used to.


  • I’m actually looking forward to going back to school too.  University of Canterbury was fun, and I really enjoyed the classes I took, but I didn’t feel the same connection that I do at University of Rochester.  UofR is my home, and as much as I liked school in New Zealand, UC didn’t give me the same feeling, probably because I knew that I would only be there for a semester. Plus, I can’t wait to see all my friends back in Rochester when I get there!


Dad welcoming me home



Katelyn Steike

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Katie Steike and I&#39;m a junior at the University of Rochester, studying molecular genetics and music. I love reading, playing soccer, and going on hikes and adventures! I&#39;m going to be studying in Christchurch New Zealand for spring 2014 and I&#39;m excited to become immersed in the Kiwi culture and explore the beautiful country!</span></p>

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Biological Sciences
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