One thing I never anticipated before coming here was being so tired a lot of the time. Even some days where I get enough sleep, I find myself almost dozing off in the middle of the day, or straight up needing to come back home for a nap in the middle of the day before going to my next class. Like no kidding I slept on the couch in the middle of the library where everyone who walked by could see me. But let me tell you, that 30-minute nap was the best decision ever. I went to class feeling like a million bucks. Before coming here I spoke to my advisor abroad during one of our pre-departure classes and I forgot exactly what we were talking about but I told her something along the lines of “I’ll have more time when I get there.” and she just laughed and said, “No you won’t”. Okay Carolina, you were right. Back home I work and go to school full time so I’m used to being insanely busy. Here It seems I’ve just found other things to take up my time. All of the normal school stuff, along with cooking, exercising, socializing, and making sure I actually get out and have fun.
Being someone who is usually prioritizing school and work over everything, it can be tempting to lock myself away in my studies and try to be the perfect student, but that would be missing the point of this whole trip. I came here to explore, to meet people, to grow, to learn to live outside of my comfort zone. Now I’m not saying I’m going to let my grades slip through the cracks. My goal is to do my best to be a good student but make sure I’m actually exploring and getting out there or else why am I even studying abroad? I’ve found that time management is so essential to mastering being a good student and still having fun while studying abroad. Eliminating distractions was the number one issue for me. It’s too easy for me to go and check my social media or start surfing the web when something pops up in my head. I started keeping a list of things that I want to look up or do while I’m studying so I can just save it for a moment when I want to give myself a break. This has been insanely helpful. There are a lot fewer assignments in the school system for my classes in New Zealand but that definitely does not mean its easier. Keeping up with lectures has been a task of its own. It’s very common for there to be clashes with the lectures and labs for classes here at this school so a lot of times you find yourself needing to watch the recordings of a lecture after the class has already finished. This is especially difficult for me because I’d much rather be in class than watch a lecture online.
But being busy is not a bad thing at all! What’s most important to me is that I really listen to my body when it’s telling me I need something. Being abroad has so much excitement and unfamiliarity going on, that it’s easy to forget your basic needs amidst all the excitement and confusion as well. This means allowing myself to just come home and take a nap in the middle of the day. I’ve been keeping relatively active with attending cycling classes and yoga that the school gym has to offer. I just came back from a yoga class today and I can honestly say its something that I really needed.
This past weekend one of the classes that I’m in had a weekend field trip to Aongatete lodge and outdoor education center. Although I really wasn’t looking forward to having class on the weekend, I really enjoyed the trip. I finally got a chance to be in nature for an extended period of time and see some birds which is what I’m really passionate about. The New Zealand fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa) or pīwakawaka, is related to my favorite bird in Hawaiʻi the ʻelepaio (Chasiempis sandwichensis). We saw soooo many of them and they came so close to us I was utterly giddy with excitement. There were also some really cute New Zealand Robin who came up to us as well. The lodge that we stayed at had a really awesome adult playground that I had so much fun playing on, and overall the field trip was just something really cool that is kind of uncommon back home. Especially with over 100 students that attended. Iʻm so happy the school has these kinds of opportunities for classes.
Now even after all the stress Iʻve been experiencing lately, there are so many amazing things this school and this country have to offer. A girl asked me on the field trip this weekend; “Are you excited to go back home?” and after I figured out she meant home as in America rather than my flat, I immediately said no. I have so much planned, so much I want to do, and so little time. I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about this already but when I think of going back home I do get a little bit sad. I already know I am going to miss this place so much after I’m gone and I already know that I am going to come back. For now I’ve just got to live in the moment and enjoy everything that this beautiful country has to offer.