I am a firm believer that if you aren’t scared about the future, you’re lying or you just haven’t thought about it. I find I feel most ready when on the precipice of utter terror and excitement. I felt this way traveling across the world to study. I was so terrified, but absolutely ready for this adventure – my last chance to partake in undergraduate shenanigans.
To say that this is one of the best decisions I have ever made is a huge understatement. I have loved every experience this beautiful country has be gracious enough to give me, met amazing people and learned more than just what was taught in lectures. I made friends and figured out what I want to do in graduate school. I technically graduated and I found myself more comfortable in less time, than almost anywhere. Dunedin has quickly become a second home, the people, the places, the walks, and now I find myself once again at the corner of terror and excitement as I begin the wind down to go home.
It feels absolutely surreal that I finally fulfilled a lifelong dream and that all those naysayers were wrong, I made it. Did I cry? Absolutely, but more often than not I was happy, I was with friends and I was doing things I had only dreamed about. One more thing to check off my list. I grew as a person – I opened my eyes and saw and opened my ears and listened. Was it hard? Of course, nothing worth doing should be easy. Even though it was hard, it was oh so utterly worth it and beyond words life changing.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that being here would have made me live and appreciate a completely different lifestyle. I never wanted to live in any city, but now I can see the error of those thoughts and how much nicer it is to walk to the supermarket and how the act of walking limits what you buy there. I realize now how much in my life at home was extraneous and how nice it is to see a city from the sidewalk rather than the street, speeding by.
Not to sound like a cliché, but I think I found a part of myself here that I never even realized I was missing. I feel more like a whole individual than I ever have, which may be the most American college student thing I have ever said, but it’s true. I’ve always been independent, but it is more so now, and as an added bonus I’ve gotten significantly better at budgeting.
So as finals approach and my motivation to study wanes, I’ve begun the countdown for returning home from study abroad, both as a reminder to do the things I want and as a reminder to clean my room. Just like when I left my family in Indiana, there is a sadness in my heart to leave all the things I know here. Before I came it was just a place, and one that I couldn’t pronounce at that, and now it has a place in my heart and that scares me. How do I go back to what feels very much like a mundane life after this and how do I balance that feeling with my excitement to see family and friends at home?
I don’t know when I will be back in Dunedin, but just like the terminator, I will be.
About the Author – Alaina Lewis, Spring 2017 BCA Dunedin, New Zealand Student
I am a recently graduated biology chemistry major from Manchester University. My hometown is Richmond, Indiana. I have wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember and this is a dream come true. While I am studying abroad, the rest of my class will graduate. My degree will be waiting for me back in Northern Indiana.