As I have officially left New Zealand it is with a happy and sad heart (posted later as I did not have internet connection). Happy that I had the wonderful opportunity and experience in the country, excited for my next adventure (Australia then moving to Montana), and finally getting a chance to see my family. However, a part of me is sad. I experienced a lot but know that New Zealand has so much more than I got the chance to see, experience, or learn. Sad as I leave so many wonderful friends I leave behind. While the first few months just felt like an adventure, by the end I felt at home there. Although I had a feeling of leaving like this as I left Purdue, this is somehow different. Maybe it is because it is so far away, and unlikely that I will return. Perhaps it is because for the first time in a long while I don't have all of the next steps in my life planned out. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact I am leaving a lifestyle and culture that is completely different from anything I have ever experienced before.
New Zealand's culture operates on a polychronic time clock, unlike the US's monochronic clock. This basically just means that time has less of a meaning. Showing up late is expected- even for class- and the concept of when things start is not based on the clock, rather when people arrive. I think this also influences just how laid back the entire lifestyle there is. It was strange adjusting to a lifestyle where the norms I was so accustom to did not exist. I will also definitely miss my additional naps and outings during all of the breaks and canceled classes. The lack of time framed anything, whether it was during group work, knowing how to plan my schedule, or waiting for people to meet up drove me nuts. It is one of the few things I will not miss about New Zealand. However, it did have its benefits. You wouldn't think twice about helping someone or stopping to chat, even though it meant you were going to be late. Whereas in the US, I would always think twice and unless someone really needed my help would probably not stop. It really made me think about how I view productivity in relation to people. So much of life is finding a good balance. Seeing life from a different viewpoint has made me question how I operate essentially and if that is really how I want to be living my life. I think its good to question yourself, whether you end up making changes or not, just to ensure that you are on the track you want to be on.
Another thing I really took away from my time in New Zealand is how fortunate I am to have grown up in the United States. Being privileged enough to attend not only a wonderful university, but also have a solid high school and primary school education. I use to complain A LOT about the quality of my education, and see so many things that needed to be fixed. Now I am not saying that the American education system is perfect, far from it. However, I am realizing that I am lucky to have received the education that I did. Further, after interning in the United States Senate and all of the drama surrounding American politics right now it can be very discouraging. Although I did get a chance to see another crazy election cycle (see previous post), I would not trade our system of government. I also saw and experienced the attention and respect given to US. Our country is not perfect, and has a lot of work to do, but I am now even more proud to be an American. I don’t say this in a way to put New Zealand down or America up. The way America operates would very likely fail to meet the needs of New Zealand and vice versa. They simply are just two very different countries. Rather, this is just a reflection on thankfulness for the opportunities I have been given. By in large I think the people there exhibit and show there thankfulness much better than most Americans, and this is something I want to carry back with me.
New Zealand is beautiful inside and out. From the overwhelming hospitality of its people, to the nature and scenery, to the culture and acceptance of other cultures New Zealand as a whole is simply beautiful. The small, but wonderful, country will always hold a special place in my heart. It taught me a lot about loving and respecting nature and people, in ways that I never would have imagined. It also gave me the chance to relax and have spiritual and personal reflections. I hope to carry what the country has taught me into the next phase of my life.
Aside from my final reflections, there is a bit that has happened since the study break. While of course much of my time was spent studying for and taking finals, I also had some time to do other things as well. While I am used to cramming up to 7 finals in the timespan of 6 days, here I had 2.5 weeks to take 3 (and 3.5 had I included the week off before finals). Much of the time was spent saying goodbye to friends as they left campus. I also got the chance to attend a Hangi, which is a Maori type BBQ. They dig a whole a cook the meat using traditional fire methods in the ground. They cooked the meat, vegetables, stuffing, some other native roots/plants I could not identify in the ground. Then everyone brought desserts or salads to contribute. It was like Thanksgiving! (Which is especially nice, as I will still be abroad during Thanksgiving). However, the Hangi was also a nice chance to meet and speak to others Maori individuals or those working with Maori studies in some form or another. I also just spent some time around campus and Palmerston north, saying goodbye to my favorite places. Plus I got to see more of Massey's farms. Below I have attached some photos of campus and the few pictures I took during the Hangi.
|Hangi fire pit.|
Photos from around Massey's campus: