The last month before coming home was bittersweet. Since there was a month long final exam period and my exams were spread out I was not able to go travel for long periods. Instead I was able to do day trips or weekend trips. This was the month I had to prioritize my academics most of all and make sure that I am prepared for my finals, that were 50-60% of my final grade.
At the same time I had to make time to say goodbye to all my friends, do all the things in the city that I missed, and make the last memories count. The weather started to get warmer (65F) and people would wear shorts and lay outside their flats in the sun. My flat mates and I would take walks often and we would go explore my kiwi hosts home in the outskirts of Dunedin. We all planned one weekend away and went to a cute beach hut were we were able to catch and cook Mussels, to go different beaches, and see the ecosanctuary. I was also able to get together with some of my friend from the TEAN program and go to the cute Cafes in Dunedin together. My kiwi friends were preparing for summer and “boogying” almost every night and many of them were have fireworks every night outside my flat (since I had the big lawn as my backyard. I am glad I had to stay closer to Otago the last couple weeks because it made me feel closer to my community.
I was also counting down the seconds of when I had each exam, which also meant counting down until going home. My last exam was the Friday before the weekend I was leaving so even though I wanted to stay longer, I wanted to get done with exams. The day of my flight I was still able to sit with my friends because so many of us booked to leave on the same day. It took three planes to get me home and a total of 20hrs of travel. I knew I was going to be jet lag so I tried to plan and schedule sleeping around Florida time. I wanted the jet lag not last more than a day because four days later I’d be leaving to Colombia to spend thanksgiving with my boyfriend and family.
I have had time to look back at my 4.5 months in New Zealand now that I am finally settling at home and I feel so grateful for everything that I experienced. From my TEAN friends, to my flat mates, and kiwi friends, I met so many amazing people who were down to earth and shaped my experience abroad. From going to a big school, camping, hiking, cafes, road trips, and BYO dinners, New Zealand had so much to offer me. I am going to miss the “hot 65F weather” and being able to be at the beach in 10 minutes, camping in caves with penguins, walking EVERYWHERE, my cozy flat. I will be back one day!