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Almost 2 weeks have passed since my return from New Zealand, and now that reality has kicked in, I think it’s time to write my reflection on my past 4 months.

During my four month stay, I constantly questioned whether the enchanting landscapes that I traveled and conquered were my reality. “Can you believe we’re here? Did you ever imagine that you would be halfway around the world in New Zealand!?” were questions that would float into a conversation well into my trip. For me, it was hard to believe that I had made it to this somewhat random destination. Just a few months before I was set on revisiting Poland but after learning of schedule complications I picked New Zealand as my spur of the moment choice for study abroad. And it was the best choice for me at this point in my life.

I had been craving real adventure. Something more spontaneous, daring, and outdoorsy. New Zealand fulfilled all that I felt was lacking in my life. I met amazing people who each taught me something different and helped me make the best of my experience.

I would like to dedicate this post to some of the individuals who enlightened me about traits I lack and traits I hope to adopt.

I met so many wonderful individuals but there are a few that I learned from and will never forget. Each of these individuals had a characteristic that I valued.

I have always believed in leading a passionate life. As a child you have remarkable goals and dreams which over time can be crushed by the firm hand of reality. Once this reality sets in you start to loose interest in your old hobbies, or you simply don’t dedicate too much time to them anymore. Ryan reminded me not to ever loose interest in things I’m passionate about. We are all gifted with some talent and it’s up to us to nurture that talent into something that will bring us happiness.

David won everyone over because he was so amiable. First impressions are important but many times they are effected by our own prejudgments. David had the ability to make everyone feel welcome, feel important. Nobody wants to be brought down by another’s negativity or judgments. Some of us are more guarded than others and we tend to use sarcasm or sharp comments as a way of keeping others from getting past our walls.

I am forever grateful that our amazing program leader, Jane, assigned me to the same room as Aubrey. Aubz and I met during a struggle sesh in the tiny elevator of our hostel in Auckland. She has more charisma than any other person I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Aubrey has the power to captivate so many people with her spirit. She is loud, crazy, and outgoing; the epitome of those crazy, spur of the moment decisions that you know aren’t smart but are the start to the most memorable stories you will be telling for the rest of your life.

You rarely find a friend who makes you feel comfortable enough to trust from the start. Justin was one of the few people who I found I felt totally comfortable being around. You never felt judged, never felt that you had to filter your thoughts. At the end of this trip I knew that there would be friends who I might not speak to again because it would simply feel strange. Justin is one of those people who will check up on a friend even after 3 months of no communication, and he’ll make it feel like you never left.

When I hear people say “nothing is impossible” I usually laugh at the poor choice of inspirational words, but Joey is a real life example of the “nothing is impossible” lifestyle. This kid is humbly traveling the world while giving back to the communities he visits. Joey is always so positive and that mindset becomes contagious. He is the most well mannered guy, it leaves you thinking about your own manners and actions.

Last but most definitely not least, my flatmate, Tessa. I was a little nervous to live with Tessa because of stories I had heard from friends. She ended up being my closest friend while I was abroad. We all have a professional side and our truer self. Too often the pressure of going to a business school has caused me to take myself too seriously. We have such great goals that we strive to achieve and we tend to rush into that no nonsense mindset. Tessa reminded me that I am still a ridiculous child and that I don’t have to try to impress people with big plans and achievements 24/7. Let go every once in a while.

The beauty of pure New Zealand has impacted me, but the people who made that trip so much more valuable are the true discoveries of my 4 months abroad.

PHOTO CREDIT: Aubrey Mable

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