In many of my previous posts I’ve told you about all the places I’ve been to in New Zealand so far. But since tomorrow is the first day of my 2nd semester here in New Zealand, I thought for this entry I would tell you where my thoughts have been lately.
One thought that I just can’t ignore is “I miss home”. Yep, I said it. I didn’t think that during my study abroad experience I would feel homesick, but there is no denying it. Despite all the traveling around and experiencing new things, I have had longing thoughts of home and the people there. I’m not saying I’m about to jump on the next plane home—my case of homesickness is not that severe. But being here in New Zealand has made me appreciate so many little aspects of home that I’ve only realized were special by being away. Things like seeing my family on a regular basis, having a snowy winter (I know all of you experiencing the harsh weather back home will hate me for saying that), and especially UW-Madison. I knew Madison was great, but now I know that Madison is a freaking awesome city! Massey University here in Palmerston North is good, but its nothing like the vibe that Madison has and what it means to be a badger there.
At the same time though, the New Zealand lifestyle has grown on me quite a bit. I no longer think of myself as a tourist in a foreign country anymore. I’ve been here long enough to understand people when they mention certain places in New Zealand and I even find myself saying Kiwi things like “heaps” instead of “a lot” and saying “yeah-nah” at the end of my sentences. And how cool is that! Going into this semester, I feel like I’m just like any other Massey student, not just an international student. I suppose that is one of the perks of a year long program; you have enough time to soak in your foreign country and experience what it is like to actually ‘live’ there, not just see all of its sights.
I’ve also realized that the new, exciting things about New Zealand that I first noticed when I got here are becoming more of the norm to me. For example, being from the Midwest, I used to think the hills surrounding Massey were incredible, but now I find them to be just an ordinary sight while on campus. Or the New Zealand accent—I used to be constantly aware of the way people talked, but now I’m not surprised by the difference in our speech. And again, I find this thought to be pretty cool! New Zealand becoming ordinary shows how much of a New Zealander I’m becoming.
Which leads me to my next thought about this upcoming semester. You can tell from reading my past posts that pretty much every weekend during 1st semester I traveled to somewhere new and treated Palmerston North just as a place to pack my bags. But this semester I’m aiming to make Massey and Palmerston North more than that. I plan on getting more involved in Uni life and having a better connection to this region and this country. Don’t get me wrong—I love traveling and I will still go on trips. But I think it’s time I give something back to New Zealand too.
There you have it. These are my thoughts as I go into the next half of my study abroad experience. Quite a mix I’d say…. I think a lot about home but I also think of New Zealand as my home too. One thought is certain though… I’m excited to start a new semester here at Massey!