An Afterthought

I am currently on the fifteen hour plane ride back home, and I have reached a new level of exhaustion that I previously did not believe existed. Between my Lord of the Rings and Hobbit marathon, I have had ample time to reflect on my trip. It didn’t take me much time to conclude that these past four weeks have been some of the best of my life. Along with the incredible sights and cities I have seen, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to share these experiences with my fellow classmates. The friendships formed on this trip have added so much more meaning to these memories. For all future study abroad experiences, I would recommend going into it with an open mind and spending time with lots of different students instead of sticking to just a small group. While you will find some people that you naturally click with more, getting to know the majority of the group well helped enrich the experience as I could move between groups on different days depending on which activities I wanted to do. Our group would also do home cooked meals at night instead of constantly going out. Since grocery store visits are cheaper than eating out, we got to spend more time together by having more dinners. We alternated who would cook each night, and most of us chipped in and helped do dishes and set the table when others were cooking. The time spent cooking together and dancing around the kitchen became very special to me. Our group would also play games together almost every night. We would play charades and cards and Pictionary, and we all had a ball together! I would also recommend giving yourself a few breaks. The trips can become really fast paced and you’ll feel like you’re wasting time if you’re not constantly on the go, but taking a day to yourself can be very rewarding. For one of our free days in Queenstown, I chose to stay in the city and walk around instead of going on an optional excursion out of town. That gave me a few hours to be alone and to wander on my own which helped me gain a new perspective on the feel of Queenstown. I went in and out of shops and had lunch and spent time reading on the beach. The day helped me really soak in the experience and take a breath and really enjoy the moment. It also helped me recharge my social battery which left me feeling really refreshed by the time everyone got back that afternoon. I am also realizing now just how quickly the few weeks pass by, so try to enjoy every single moment that you are on your adventure. You’ll get tired and grumpy, but try not to let that become too consuming so that you don’t get home and have any regrets about how you spent your short amount of town. Studying abroad will change your life and you’ll carry these memories with you always, so make the most of your time and your company and treasure all of it!

Author: Claudia M

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