In 2008, I went on the adventure of my life; I studied abroad in New Zealand for six months and it was nothing short of incredible. It was the second time in my life, the first was moving to Boulder for college, that I had gone somewhere by myself. I didn’t know anyone in my group, I was traveling across the world, I had a visa, and I was doing it all by myself. Autumn always reminds me of New Zealand, because the weather most of the time I lived there was crispy and cool like Autumn is here. I arrived in February, the end of their summer, and left in June, right before the winter started there.
This is one of the first pictures of me there. After discovering that no one knew where I was living, I had to stay in a hostile for my first night in Wellington. This is the day after; the people I was stranded with and I headed right for the harbor. We saw some people from my group and it just so happened that one of the people with them was my Kiwi room mate. What were the odds that we would find each other?!
This was my flat during my stay. Good ole 6A Landcross Street. It was close to campus, but was at the top of a very, very steep hill, the dreaded Vivian Street Hill. This was always a source of annoyance for us, as we had to walk back up it every time we went to the farmers market or went out during the night. I could run up most of it by the time I left Wellington. I credit Wellington’s major hills for making me the good hill runner that I am today!
I got my first tattoo when I was in New Zealand. This is a picture of it the day I got it, fresh and new. It is a koru, a Maori symbol that means new beginning, which seemed appropriate for that time in my life. It also symbolizes growth, strength and peace. I love this tattoo; I look at it every day and think of New Zealand.
My family came for a visit, which was a wonderful thing. I was a little homesick during some parts of my trip and it was wonderful to have them along for part of my journey.
My experience in New Zealand taught me a great deal of things, but it mostly taught me to learn to operate on my own. I was pretty far away and removed from many comforts of Boulder. I was also pretty far removed from my old self, where people had certain expectations of me. To some people, I was their door mat; the person they could always count on to agree with them, or do what they needed or expect to go with the flow. I was not the decision maker in my college house, but I was certainly not confident enough to assert myself when I thought something was wrong. New Zealand taught me to be just that. Self confidence and self reliance are the two most important things I took away from that trip.
New Zealand also taught me that friends could be supportive and truly want what’s best for you.
These are the people that truly made me see what it was like to have good friends. And for that, I owe them a life time of thanks. I miss these girls, and a few others who aren’t pictured, every single day. One day we will all be reunited again. One day, I’ll travel back to Wellington and go back to a place that help transform me into the person I am today. I miss you every day, Wellington, New Zealand.