New Zealand, as well as Fiji and Australia, has been a time of freedom, independence and most of all, change for me.
Going abroad meant that I was going to be on my own completely. It was definitely nerve-racking when all the “what-ifs” permeated my thoughts, but when I realized that there’s no point in worrying about something I had no control over, I finally learned how to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Traveling is never all fun, and more often you’re anxious, tired and miss the comfort of home; but you learn much more than you would in the comfort of home.
My personality is more timid than social, and I often find it hard to initiate conversations with people. However, whenever I was scared to talk to someone or do something, I asked myself, “When are you going to have another chance like this?” Somehow I was always convinced that there’s nothing more important than to enjoy my time abroad and take chances that I would never have taken if I were home.
For anyone that’s about to embark on a new adventure, don’t be afraid to take chances, but also don’t be afraid to just be yourself.
New Zealand is full of spectacular and unique landscapes that you most likely cannot find anywhere else in the world. They are huge on conservation and appreciation of nature, which I’ve always had a passion for as well. Hiking and outdoor activity is a must if you want to make the most out of New Zealand. There will always be somewhere to explore when you’re in NZ!
The hardest part for me was learning about what I want and don’t want. Meeting people wasn’t too hard because everyone in the program was looking to meet new friends. But you might find yourself doing stuff that you really don’t want to do, only doing it because everyone else is. I had to stop and ask myself, “Am I really enjoying this, or am I forcing myself to because I don’t want to be alone?” But I think this was the most important part of my experience abroad: learning about myself and knowing what it is that I really want, rather than to follow the crowd.
The best part is just the experience itself! The opportunity to do irrational and crazy things and be okay with it. The chance to meet and talk to strangers without feeling vulnerable and out of place. The friends that I made along the way, and every lesson I learned stumbling around trying to make the trip worth it.
Whenever I get asked the question, “What did you get out of this trip?” I can never seem to give a concrete answer. Truth is, I got a lot out of this trip, but what I value most are the emotions and feelings I’ve experienced while being there and doing things I never imagined myself doing on my own.
I went to New Zealand, so it is only proper to leave a quote from The Hobbit. As told by Gandalf, “home is now behind you, the world is ahead!” Go out, get lost, maybe cry a little, but never take the opportunity for granted. One thing I regret not doing is keeping a journal or blog about my experiences. We can only remember so much, so take advantage of technology! Have something to look back to, and inspire others to travel, get lost and learn.
So my advice, keep a journal, take pictures, record videos, but also try to just enjoy the moment. Don’t let anything take away the moment—and remember to have fun!
Study Abroad Program: University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Countries Visited: Fiji, Australia, China & Hong Kong
Home University: UC Berkeley
Year: Senior (Graduating May 2016)
I love traveling and taking photos and videos of my experiences. When I’m not in the best shape or mindset, these memories and experiences are what motivates me to keep going. My traveling revolves around places with great sunsets and sceneries, and more importantly, food. (Because in my world, food usually leads you to great places.) I’m a biology major that intended to go into the medical field, but I’ve put that on pause because I’m currently reconsidering and rethinking my interests and career goals.