In the weeks leading up to my departure for New Zealand I had all these expectations of what this whole experience was going to be like. But after being here for a few weeks I have realized that I could not have been more wrong. I am the kind of person that likes to have a plan. I like to know what is going to happen before it happens. But with studying abroad it is hard to have a plan. You can’t decide the people you are going to meet you just have to let things happen. Letting go of that need for control was probably the hardest part of this whole experience, but perhaps the most important. Letting go of the plan gives you the freedom to be spontaneous which oftentimes leads to the most meaningful and memorable experiences.
The thing that I was most worried about was the trip here. I had never traveled on my own before or even been outside of the United States. I had the hardest time sleeping at night. I would keep myself awake just thinking of all the bad things that could happen. What if my luggage got lost or I somehow got on the wrong plane? (Which I logically knew was pretty much impossible but that’s what your brain thinks at 3 am.) Speaking of luggage, they will make you repack your bags if you are even a pound over the 50 lbs limit. I was 4lbs over and my mother and I were squatting in front of the ticket desk trying to figure out what we could take out. So, when they tell you to get to the airport 3 hours before your plane is supposed to leave you should take that suggestion very seriously. It took me about an hour and a half to get my bags checked, go through security, and get to my gate which by the way had been changed at the last minute from one very near security to one on the opposite side of the airport. To top it all off, those moving walkways were out of order! Normally all these unexpected bumps in my carefully crafted plan would induce a full-fledged anxiety attack, but while I was waiting for my first flight at PDX, I felt a sense of tranquility wash over me. It was strange and unexpected and even though I was still very nervous, I knew that I was ready.
It was all such a whirlwind. Even with more than 24 hours of traveling, an 8 hour layover and a 12 hour flight it all seemed to go by so fast. Before I knew it I was looking down on New Zealand from the window of the plane. As I saw the land spreading out underneath me I could also see all of the opportunities and new experiences to be had. And it was beautiful.