I don’t think I’ve ever felt more homesick than I did during the first few days of my stay here in New Zealand. This surprised me. I expected to get homesick after I had been here for a while, not when I just arrived. The epiphany I had just a day before in the PDX airport had vanished. I thought I had made the hugest mistake of my life by coming here. All I wanted to do was get on a plane and go back home and pretend like all this had never happened. I wanted to go back to what was normal and familiar. I panicked.
Upon arriving in the Auckland airport my new adventure did not get off to the best start. This being my first experience in New Zealand was perhaps what jumpstarted my panic. However, this experience also contains important information that will hopefully prevent you from experiencing a mini heart attack. After landing and going through customs I found myself to be near a state of panic because I couldn’t find my shuttle driver who was supposed to take me to Hamilton. This did not go over well as this was one of my biggest sources of traveling anxiety. In order to avoid this harrowing excperience, make sure that you put the correct time that your plane is supposed to land when you submit your arrival form to Waikato. As it turns out, I had accidently put mine down as an hour later and as a result my shuttle was not yet there. Everything ended up okay when I realized that I had a mouth and could ask for help. The shuttle drivers ended up being very helpful and the situation was cleared up and I was able to hop on the next shuttle bound for the University of Waikato. Don’t worry, though; finding your shuttle is nothing to be worried about. There is a desk right outside of the sliding doors when you get out of customs and if you just talk to them they help you out.
When I first got to Waikato it was like being a freshman in college again but multiplied by about 1,000. I felt every emotion I felt after coming to Linfield for the first time but on a much larger scale. The campus is bigger, there are way more students and I was so much farther away from home. I was afraid to leave my room because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back. My homesickness was heightened by the fact that for the first few days after my arrival I had no means of contacting anyone. Obviously my cell phone didn’t work, but I also couldn’t get internet access for 2 or 3 days. It turned out that you need to set up your account before you can log into the school’s internet. But you need your Waikato student I.D. card to set up your account. And unfortunately, because of all the orientations I needed to attend and the fact that I was still getting used to the campus, I wasn’t able to get my I.D. for a few days. A silly system if you ask me.
When I had my I.D. and was finally able to sign into the internet (which by the way you have to pay for) was when I was finally able to calm down. Even though there were people all around me, the inability to contact people caused me to feel very isolated and anxious. Usually the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place is tell people that you got there safely, so when I couldn’t do this it was hard for me to be fully present. I knew that my friends and family at home were wondering about me, worrying about whether or not I had arrived in one piece. In fact, I could practically feel my mother worrying from an ocean away. I felt like I couldn’t do anything until everyone knew that everything was fine. When at last I was able to send an email to my parents my eyes finally opened and I remembered, I AM IN NEW ZEALAND!!! With my mother’s and my anxiety assuaged, at least for the time being, my mind opened itself up to my new world and I was finally able to enjoy myself and appreciate the fact that I am able to have this experience.