Why I almost regret studying in New Zealand
Prepare yourself for the honest to goodness truth: I regret studying abroad in New Zealand... but not for the reason you might think. Hear me out.
The week before I left New Zealand, I was an emotionally unstable wreck. I was saying goodbye to a life-changing semester. I felt that by leaving New Zealand I was leaving a piece of my heart behind in Dunedin, my home away from home. I realised that every time I had to say goodbye to another friend, I was leaving a piece of my heart with every one of them. It broke my heart into a thousand pieces and scattered them all over the world. I only regret studying abroad in New Zealand because I had to say goodbye - goodbye to amazing friends, beautiful places, and endless adventures.
Yes, I will admit it. Saying goodbye to New Zealand completely ruined me. Regardless of how tough it was to leave, I want to focus on what made it this way. In the four months I spent in New Zealand, I made the friends of a lifetime - friends I feel like I have known for longer than the 120 days that I spent here and who I will continue to adventure with for years to come (even if an entire continent and a couple oceans currently separate us). Before I went abroad, someone told me that only true friends can travel together. Admittedly, it was not all smooth sailing on weekend adventures. One of the worst weekends here involved 72 hours of straight rain and immense amounts of irritability. But, the seven girls I weathered that monsoon with are some of my best friends to date. Abroad friendships are so different than home friendships - you see each other at your worst, you get lost together, you eat tons of budget PB&J's and then you do it all again the next weekend. It's the people you meet on your grand adventure that make it all so great.
Aside from the people who accompany you on the adventure, let us pause to appreciate the places New Zealand offers for adventure. I spent one weekend bungy jumping in Queenstown, followed by a 60km tramp of the Kepler Track, and then sea kayaking in Milford Sound. New Zealand's unreal landscape has absolutely ruined my standard for what I consider beautiful. You mean they don't have awe-inspiring snow-capped mountain ranges and an endlessly impressive landscape at home? You see what I'm getting at? New Zealand is surreal.
Before I rest my case on why studying abroad in New Zealand will inevitably make you an emotional mess when you try to leave, let me just take a moment to talk about the food. Along with pretty much everything else in New Zealand, it is incredible. Host to an impressively international food scene, the options are infinite. From authentic Japanese, Korean, Thai, Chinese, and Indian (my personal favorite), I like to think I ate my way around the world - or at least Asia. Saying "see you later" to my new favorite foods might not have been as difficult as parting with my friends, but to say I didn't shed a small tear would be a lie.
There you have it. So maybe I don't actually regret studying abroad in New Zealand, maybe I'm just horrible at goodbyes. Leaving my time abroad is one of the hardest things I have had to do, but to anyone remotely considering an abroad adventure in New Zealand - I leave you with this sentiment: GO! On the other side of the adventure, I have emerged with forever friends, countless memories and a newfound love for Indian food. Not too shabby for a short four months I would say.
About the contributors
Patricia Smith is from the University of Maine at Farmington where she studies Outdoor Recreation Business Administration and International Studies. She recently spent a semester studying abroad at the University of Otago. Patty chose to study in New Zealand because of the country’s pure beauty, recreational culture and opportunity for adventure.