Well, I studied abroad for a semester. I can’t believe it’s already done. I can honestly say that the last four and half months have been the most enriching and fulfilling months of my life. I was nervous at first about going to a different country by myself, and not knowing a single person. I made friends easily and right away, and not just Kiwi friends, but Americans as well. The goodbyes were all very hard to do. I will miss the Kiwi accents and the little phrases they use all the time.
The scenery of New Zealand is absolutely amazing, and I’m glad I got to experience it firsthand instead of just watching the backgrounds in various movies. In a relatively short distance you have coastline to plains to sub-tropical rainforests to rugged mountain. I remember thinking in several locations that the scenery didn’t look real, and I was standing there looking directly at it!
I gained a greater sense of independence. I never used to do anything by myself; I would always do things with other people. Part of that comes from being on a team and always having people around to do things with. Now adventuring by myself doesn’t seem as daunting. If need be, I could just go decide to have an adventure by myself. Of course, it still is more fun to adventure with others.
I also experienced growth in my faith, my walk with Christ. I’ve been learning the entire trip that my life is better when I am not anxious about a thing. If I just let God do the planning, everything works out better than I could have possibly anticipated. The sermon at church the day before I left was “do not be anxious” as a capstone to the lessons I had been learning all semester. It was also extremely ironic because I ended up missing my flight out of NZ and had to stay an extra night for another flight with a completely different itinerary. I got an extra 18 hours in New Zealand and my church friends took care of me and drove me to the airport a couple of times, including at 4 am to catch my second flight.
A part of my heart will always belong to New Zealand. I have never seen such a place and I don’t think I could find another place that fits me as well as New Zealand does. I don’t know when I will make it back down here, but I know without a doubt, I will return.
I’m writing this in my six-hour layover in Sydney, Australia. I have about 24 hours until I land in Seattle and see my family and Chris. I’m excited to hug them and see what adventures are in store for me this summer and school year, but I already miss New Zealand.