My last couple of weeks in New Zealand can only be described as bittersweet. Dunedin had become a second home to me and when it was time to leave, I realized how comfortable I had become living there. I knew my way around the city well, I was closer than ever with my flatmates and I was full of desire to keep exploring the country. As sad as I was to leave, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to study abroad in New Zealand and I will always treasure my time and memories there.
The hardest goodbyes were to my flatmates. We had become super close through the semester playing card games every night and bantering all the time. Two of them left on the same day and the other is still there since he’s staying for the second semester. We’ve been trying to talk every day but it’s difficult with the time change. However, we have made plans to try and meet up again in the future.
Two of my other friends and I also got in another road trip before leaving. We went to Lake Tekapo, the Blue Pools in Wanaka, and the Wanaka tree. Lake Tekapo was amazing since the wild lupins had begun to bloom. It was one of my favorite things I saw! We also got lucky with really nice weather so the mountains were clearly visible from the lake. The blue pools in our opinion weren’t worth it unless you were already in the area or doing one of the hikes it’s connected to. The water was just as blue as other lakes and rivers so while it was beautiful, we thought it wasn’t one of the top things to see in New Zealand. We ate at Red Star one more time and then went to get pictures of the Wanaka tree during sunset. The day was very long but totally worth it for one last road trip to see the countryside.
My last day in Dunedin we took tourist pictures and went to Doctors Point beach. Doctors point ended up being beautiful and very tropical. We walked through tunnels to get there and as we walked out on the other side of the beach I felt like we were transported to the north island. I was disappointed when I didn’t get to see Cathedral Cove on the North Island, but Doctors Point almost had a similar look to it and the pictures looked similar. It was a perfect last beach day getting some sun and soaking in my last day in Dunedin. That night Santi, Madi I played games until we had to go to bed and say our goodbyes. I left the next morning at 6 am when my shuttle picked me up outside my flat, which I booked online for a student discount.
I was excited to go home and see my family but it was really hard to leave. I had a great time abroad and wasn’t ready to leave yet. I got lucky on the plane leaving Dunedin with great views of the peninsula one last time. My journey home was very long and I was grateful to see my parents when I landed in Spokane.
The next couple of weeks I spent trying to adjust back to my normal life. The time change was hard to get used to, especially since I felt no motivation to fix it. It was also much harder than I expected to adjust back to the right-hand side. For so long I was repeating “left-hand side” in my head that it became natural. In the San Francisco airport, I almost walked onto the wrong side of the moving walkway until I realized it was coming toward me! Also at the airport, I almost got into the driver’s side of the car instead of the passenger side. After that, I focused more on changing back to the right side but I still find myself walking on the left side sometimes. My brothers came home for Thanksgiving, also making it easier to adjust to being home.
I would recommend to anyone even thinking about it to study abroad in New Zealand! It was a breathtaking country with friendly people and a super safe environment. I made memories I will never forget and friends that I hope to keep forever. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity like everyone always says. I hope to help others wanting to study abroad there and I know I will be going back again someday as soon as I can!