It feels really weird to be leaving New Zealand in just a few hours. I can’t say that I feel in love with it the way I did England, but I had some truly remarkable times in this little country down under-er! They weren’t kidding in Flight of the Conchords with their posters “New Zealand: Like Lord of the Rings.” I’ve never seen a place where everywhere you turn, you’re surrounded by the most spectacular views of your life. It’s like Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, but a whole country. Also, I would say on the whole, Kiwis are the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever encountered. Everyone I ran into was really helpful and positive, even when I blatantly had no idea what I was doing (I still am a bit confused by EFTPOS but whatever). The University of Canterbury itself was good, my profs were casual and so friendly as were my classmates. The living facilities were deplorable, which sort of dampened the entire experience, but when away from them, everything was lovely.
I suppose I just didn’t realize how different studying in two different countries would be. In London, all the friends I made were other international students and I hardly met Americans, and I loved the city and was quite upset to have to leave it, but I was sure I’d come back soon enough. In New Zealand I made friends with other Willamette students who I had just never met till flying to the opposite side of the world, and a girl who lives about a half hour from me at home, a couple other North Americans, and a Kiwi or two, but by and large, most my friends here are Americans, and ones I go to school with at Willamette at that, and also, most of us are chomping at the bit to be home. It’s just such an opposite situation to studying in London, it’s strange.
The weirdest thing I think is that when I left Europe, when I left Rome or Dublin or London, I thought of it as more of a “till next time” than a “goodbye,” but New Zealand is just so incredibly far away and small, I can’t imagine I’ll ever come back here, and it’s just really odd to think “wow I’ve set up a life here in 5 months and I’ll never come back to this place again.” I mean I can’t say I’ll regret not coming back or that I’ll feel almost homesick for it the way I feel about England, but all the same, it’s a strange feeling.
Either way, I’m really excited to go home. I miss my pets and my car and the ability to share a bathroom with just one other person and have that bathroom actually be sanitary as well as a kitchen that consists of more than a 4x4 cube with a sink and microwave (really Uni Hall housing is the worst of the worst), and it’ll be nice to get back and eat good Mexican food and not pay $6 for a cucumber. And In-N-Out. Cannot wait for the In-N-Out.
The most unexpected conclusion I can come to from traveling so much for school is that California really might be the best place in the world for me. So thank you, NZ, you’ve kept it interesting, but California here I come!