This post is coming over a month after my educational abroad experience has ended. Though my semester abroad ended on April 25th, my rite of passage did not. For the past month and a half, I have been backpacking across New Zealand. This additional trip added so many layers to my rite of passage. I went to Australia with some of my friends so I knew I would always have someone there for me to share in the experiences. In New Zealand I was by myself and it pushed me out of my comfort zone even further. I had no orientation program where I could find friends, no way of meeting people except to just put myself out there. This past month I’ve realized that no matter how much I thought I had matured and grown as a person in Australia, there was always more to go.
Saying goodbye to friends is never easy. It’s hard knowing that realistically you probably won’t see everyone again. My last week in Australia was all about saying goodbyes. My roommates and I all cooked one last dinner together and my group of friends all went out to eat. Then on the last night in Australia almost all the kids who lived in my building went to happy hour for our final goodbyes. It was a sad night. Everyone was crying and hugging and making plans to see each other in the future. It was strange for me because I wasn’t going home, not for 44 days. Everyone talked about how excited they were to see their family and friends and how they missed home so much. In some ways it made me sad that I wasn’t going home, but I also knew that within a week of being home people would get the post abroad withdrawals and want to come back.
I think my goodbyes in New Zealand are actually harder. All the close friends I made in Australia are within reasonable distances to visit from home. But, the friends I’ve made here are from all over the world and it will be so much harder to ever see them all again. The group I’ve been with for the past month is slowly going our separate ways and the goodbyes are always hard, but we’ve promised to keep in touch.
Slimbach states that “If we allow, global learning will not only carry us into the world around us, but also into this world within” (54). I think that Slimbach is trying to point out that to get the most out of an experience abroad, we have to be open and willing to let the experience impact us. I have learned so much while abroad, not just about the countries I’ve been to, but about myself. I’ve realized how important traveling the world is for me personally and it’s made me extremely passionate about being able to do so again.
Everyone’s asking me if I’m excited to go home. It’s a tough question. I’m excited to see my friends and family, but I’ve fallen in love with traveling. Every day I can’t help but marvel at how lucky I was to get the opportunity to get outside the U.S. It’s almost time to reincorporate back into my own culture and it’s slightly disappointing. Going home is going back to the real world. I have my job lined up and I’m working 6-7 days a week over the summer to try to earn back some of the money I spent. Though I’m sad, I’m not going to go home being mopey. I had a once in a life time experience and I want to show people back home how it made me into a better person.