A week before I boarded a trans-Pacific plane eleven months ago, I wrote about the anticipation of beginning my New Zealand journey. A couple months ago, I entered the bittersweet limbo season and began to detect the light barely glimmering at the end of the tunnel. Welp, two months came and went (flash!). Today, the impending assignments are all done and dusted. I’ve completed a Master’s degree, slotted in and smashed out about as many adventures as I could manage, and in one short week, the #JCompinNZ journey will come to a close. What a significant, memorable year it has been.
Settling in right after I got back from Hawaii initially felt so good. I’m not moving on! I’m still here! No new starts, I know this place, I get to stay another half a year. But that quickly dissipated to the realization that most of the consistency I knew had indeed shifted. New house, new flatmates and all the old study abroad ones I had grown so close to gone. No more Georgia (gosh I miss her), new placement, new classes, new pedagogy.
Last fall when I lived in Houston, I was driving down yet another congested city freeway when a song reverberated through the car speakers that caught my attention. I think Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist knew more that I like acoustic music than that I had just been through a break up, but the lyrics certainly hit home.
I am from a distant land of lost imagination
Hours of dressups and plastic high heels
The ca-ching! of the grocer’s checkout
The recliner chair dentist office
Elaborate blanket forts
Bursting forth from the mess of our playroom
Before I left, people asked me if I knew what my next steps after this year of study were going to be. How could I? I had not even gotten here yet. I anticipated that this country would suit me well, but there was no way to know for sure.
Well, I’ve been here five weeks now, and — big surprise — I love it. When I was talking to my mom last week, I told her how much I enjoy my classes, that I feel so confident about going into teaching. She retorted that I could like physics class so long as I was studying in New Zealand. I rolled my eyes. (She is wrong, by the way; I will never willingly venture into the field of math and science again.)
Thanksgiving is such a great holiday. There’s not any religious controversy, little commercialization…just the gathering of family and friends, good eats, and remembering all of the blessings we have to be grateful for. And though the early settlers celebrating the first harvest did not partake in food-induced afternoon coma or NFL football games, the purpose of Thanksgiving is the same. We approach this holiday with an extra dose of gratitude. It’s a good reminder of a posture we can choose not just the fourth Thursday of November, but everyday.
I will miss my new friends Charis and Lydia
As great as it is that Kayla was around this year, it is not quite the same as having friends that are still students, who still live in dorms and have classes like you. Queue the unexpected but amazing senior-year friendship with Charis and Lydia.