I flew direct from Auckland to Houston – an overnight flight that made a nonstop 13-hour journey relatively bearable. As I braced my body for the jolty touchdown onto American soil, I also braced my being for reverse culture shock. I didn’t know how I would feel about the materialism of Mt. Pleasant, or the general culture of the Bible Belt. I was giddy, but slightly scared, as my in-flight journal entry attests:
My chest feels light and twisted, because as much as America is home, I’m afraid of waffling between two cultures and not really having a place. It has been a whole year, and I’m nervous about all the differences in my outlook and experiences that up to this point I was not aware of, or had not acknowledged.
Donald Trump is officially the next president of the United States. I just…really don’t understand. Nor does about 95% of my social media feed. Nor any Kiwi who has broached the topic of politics with me for the last year. At the DNC, Obama said, “People outside of the United States do not understand what’s going on in this election. [audience chuckle.] They really don’t.”
My last big trip through New Zealand over spring break ended two weeks ago (I neglected to write about any of it…)
Yesterday I had my final three-way meeting for student teaching and finished my last day of placement at Hornby High. Tonight is my last night as a Waimairi Woman. We have trimmed hedges and mowed the lawn, deep cleaned and packed up, and now I’m sitting at the dinner table in an eerily calm, empty house. Rachel and Jovita are already back home, and after a tramp with some friends this weekend, I’ll be joining Jovita and her family, who have graciously invited me to live with them for my last two months in New Zealand.
Genesis had it right from the beginning – “It is not good for man to be alone.”
And though it’s not exactly the same context, I don’t ever intend on living without other people again.
Last term I lived in Ilam Apartments, a centrally located, convenient student block that houses a lot of study abroad students. It was definitely not the cheapest, but, going through the university, it was the easiest for me to arrange when I was still back in America. Plus, I hoped it would facilitate my scheming to live with Georgia while she was here. Not only did I get to live with my sister, but I also befriended an eclectic group of flatmates: a tough-skin, soft-heart Bostonian; a smart, procrastinating original from Ireland; and a gentle, cheerful spirit from Manchester. Ilam hosted fun events during study weeks for residents, and my room had a personal heater – a perk I would later covet. Anticipating all of my flatmates abandoning me though, I started toying with the idea of other (cheaper) accommodation possibilities.
I hate to leave my blog hovering on low notes for too long, because it’s not like I’m in a perpetual gloomy cloud – though this one has been a bit darker than I’m used to. I was also reflecting this week on how it must seem like I cry an awful lot based on several of the posts from the past year. I don’t; they just tend to be tipping points, and those are typically the times where I have a takeaway worth pondering. I usually move on from the sad moments and just haven’t gotten the chance for a proper update.
For most of my life, I have wanted to be a teacher. Two years ago when I made the official adult decision to pursue education as a career, I came across this picture from Humans of New York.
At the time, it epitomized one of the main reasons I was committing to teaching. Why would someone who had the brains and opportunities to go into many other worthy professions willingly choose a job with pubescent teenagers? A job that follows you home, that grossly underpays and is so exhaustingly demanding? And in English, one that requires you to mark paper after endless paper??
My social media feeds may portray weekend tramping adventures, but, just so you’re not fooled, I’m still a full-time grad student. My Master of Teaching and Learning coursework at the University of Canterbury started three weeks ago, and I love that facet of life here too.
I’ve got just as much of an academic-prone mind as I do a mountain soul, and it feels really good to be back in a learning environment. My 22 other classmates and I come from a variety of professional, geographic, and generational backgrounds, but we’re all bright and have landed in this course because we are passionate about helping young people.