Now that I’ve returned, it’s time to start to wrap up this blog. I have enjoyed sharing my adventure with those who followed along. The next two posts are requirements for the travel writing program, but they also offer a valuable opportunity for me to reflect on the last four months and begin to think about the next four months and what they have in store for me.
Although I started to feel more comfortable in Auckland and at Northcote, I think I’ve missed the familiarity of everything in Bellingham the most. I love knowing that when I get on the bus I know where I am, where I’m going, and when to get off. I love running into people I know in the grocery store, I’ve enjoyed going back to my favorite coffee shops, and finding a new one, Makeworks, that opened up while I was gone.
I like walking into a restaurant and knowing what to do. While we were traveling in both NZ and Australia it felt like we never knew if we were supposed to seat ourselves, wait to be seated, order at the bar, be waited on and pay at the counter, or wait for the check. It seems silly to be confused about for such a little thing, but we always just felt a little unsure of ourselves and, being us, didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.
I’m excited for the variety of beer and cider again! Living in Bellingham, we often forget how great it is that there are so many microbreweries and cider houses. In Australia especially, it felt like every single place we went had the same 4 light beers and 1 cider, so I definitely enjoyed going to Aslan for our first night back and ordering the Ginger Rye beer-my all time favorite!
I’m excited to be close to my friends and family again. I put a lot of value into my relationships with my family and my friends and to be away from them for so long was really difficult. I love being able to hop on my bike and visit mom and dad for dinner, seeing mom drive home from work while I’m biking to a friend’s house or
It is funny because all of these things (except the friends and family component-that’s
a big one for me!), seem so small. However when you add together every uncertainty I had and every unfamiliar experience I went through, it’s crazy how much it takes a toll on you-mentally emotionally and physically.
Although I am back to living in my comfort zone, there are definitely things I miss from my time in Auckland. Every day I think about all of the students I worked with at Northcote. I miss how they would make me laugh and call me ‘Miss’ when they had a question. I miss planning lessons and looking forward to trying out new ideas and techniques. I miss asking my cooperating teachers millions of questions because it felt good to collaborate and continue to learn. I miss debriefing our days in the office after school and listening to the other teachers stories and laughing about things that happened in the classroom. I miss my year 9 football team and their smiling faces and their excitement to tyr something new.
I have to say it has been more challenging to transition back into my life in Bellingham than I thought it would be. For someone who is always busy and almost never has down time, I’ve had a lot of time to myself-especially while Dylan and other friends have been at work. Luckily I’ve been filling it by stressing out about job hunting! Most of my day’s consist of sleeping in (which I can’t complain about) and heading to my new favorite coffee shop in town. Makeworth opened up the week I got back to town and it’s a great place to spend the afternoon writing a cover letter, emailing about references and gathering my thoughts as I think about the next few months.
I’ve also found it difficult to answer the “how was your trip” question. My answer is so much more than “good” or “bad” but it has been hard to put the last four months into words. It was exciting, challenging, enjoyable, lonely, adventurous, exhausting, overwhelming, scary, incredible, all at the same time. But I truly wouldn’t give up the experience for anything-and that’s what studying abroad is supposed to be! I learned more about myself in the process and upon returning to Bellingham, I have a better idea of who I want to be, my hopes for the next five years, and the people I want to surround myself with. I overcame something unlike I’ve ever faced and for that reason alone I am extremely proud of myself.
I will definitely miss the PE department at Northcote. I can’t thank them enough for their encouragement, willingness to take me in under their wing and give me the freedom and flexibility to learn, make mistakes, correct those mistakes, ask questions, and continue to develop as a teacher. I feel truly lucky to have gotten to work with all of the teachers at Northcote and I sincerely hope our paths cross again at some point.
More than anything else, I think the best way to stay in touch with my experience in NZ is to appreciate the personal growth I made and continue to find ways to push myself outside of my comfort zone even as I live in Bellingham. By continuing to set goals and reaching for things just out of grasp, I hope that I can continue to stay engaged and never fall into complacency. This will be especially important as I search for jobs but is also a huge component of living a fulfilling life.
I can’t express how grateful I am to all of the friends and family who support me as I took this leap and who encouraged me to give it a go. It was a tough decision but going abroad is always something I’ve found value in and I truly am so lucky to have been in such an amazing place for the last four months