Days have passed by, and all of the leaves have fallen off the trees. Its been a truly unique experience seeing the seasons change like this. Back home in Hawai’i, we don’t experience traditional autumn like other places that have all four seasons. I have a big tree right outside my bedroom window and when I got here it was full of leaves that were bright and green. Now looking outside, there is not a single leaf on the tree. I have seen it change color, see the residents of the tree come and go, and watched as it has lost all the color now only left with a few empty nests from past residents. It is now preserving the rest of its energy to come back and bloom in the spring with new leaves and new life.
I have always wanted to experience true autumn and now I can finally cross that off my list. It’s absolutely beautiful, the beautiful yellows, reds, and oranges, the leaves falling gracefully with the autumn winds, and the crunch of the dried leaves beneath your feet. Today is June 22nd which is also the official start of winter here in New Zealand, and I am here looking at the start of the end.
I’ve decided to stay a couple of extra weeks after the semester has ended to explore the country a little bit more but I sit here today in my house for what will likely be one of the last times I am here. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for my time here. I have learned so much and grown as a person in ways that are hard to describe. I feel like a slightly changed person. A little better seasoned, a little more confident, a little more cultured, a little humbled, a little more independent, but a little more homesick as well.
I’ve realized the change in weather is something that is unusual for me, and something that I did think would take a little bit of time adapting to. It gets cold back home but not nearly as cold as it gets here, and I’m not used to it. I think it hit me how much I miss the sun when I was coming back from the gym the other day and it was the sunniest its been in a long time. The sky was blue and the sun was beaming down on me. I took off my puffy jacket and wasn’t freezing for once. I let the sunlight hit my skin and slowed down my pace quite a bit as I closed my eyes in pure bliss.
I think this is the second time in my life I’ve ever experienced something like seasonal depression and it is something I never thought would affect me that much until I actually experienced it. The last time I experienced it was at the beginning of 2018 when we had nonstop rain for over three months straight. The lack of sun started to make me and my partner really lethargic and sometimes crabby.
There are times where I feel those effects starting to set in this cold weather as well. More and more often I find myself dreaming of sunny days back home. Sitting on a beach with my loved ones in a tank top and shorts, and jumping in the salty ocean water to cool down every once in a while. I’ve realized that my time here has come to an end. It’s been a beautiful five months in New Zealand and I know I’m going to look back on my time here very fondly. I’ve met amazing people, had so many fun experiences, had a lot of firsts, lots of deep conversations, lots of learning, and lots of love.
The past few days I’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of people, and it never gets easier. Some people you know you will probably never see again, and for some, it feels more like an “I’ll see you later”, but the world and life is unpredictable so I never really know who I will run into again so I’ll say goodbye like its the last time either way. I am so thankful to have had each and every person in my life. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and each person who walks into your life can teach you something. I now have friends all across the world and that feels amazing to say. I can’t wait to visit friends in other countries and have friends come to visit me at home as well.
As for Aotearoa, I am certain deep down in my heart that this is not a final goodbye, rather just a “see you later.”