Am I a Student or a Tourist?

Andrew Esber Auckland, New Zealand


September 1, 2022

Well this is it, Study Abroad. The experience that walks a balance beam between my education and the vacation of a lifetime. The overarching challenge of the adventure is finding a way to balance fun and responsibilities at the same time. It seemed like all I could think about before arriving in Auckland was the excitement, but as soon as I arrived, I couldn’t help but to feel overwhelmed. It’s almost like living in two places at once while also maintaining a whole new set of responsibilities and being a student at the same time. Time spent keeping in touch with family and friends from home must be matched with reaching out and building new relationships with people you've only just met. All of the time and effort put into traveling must also be put into studying and keeping organized. And if you’re like me, you’ll also have to take on the new responsibilities that come with living outside of a small college in rural Ohio. 

Grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and managing money are all skills I thought I was familiar with until I actually had to do them without any guidance. I moved from a cozy dorm room with a dining hall just minutes away to an entire apartment where the only food available was that which I bought and prepared. This  major change was one that I was not prepared for. As was using a train, bus, or walking to get around rather than just driving. Even moving from a class size of eleven students to almost 400 students where the professor did not even know my name. Each of these instances brought upon new obligations that forced me to learn new skills which resulted in a lot of YouTube and Googling. 

When I think back to my first week, I remember the feeling of reality setting in. That this wasn’t a vacation but an opportunity to grow. Now almost two months later, I can look back at all I have learned so far and of course, the amazing experiences I have gotten to enjoy. The purpose of writing this blog isn’t to scare you into thinking your Study Abroad experience is a chore list waiting to happen, but more to remind you that responsibilities still exist in paradise. Traveling takes planning, school takes time, and relationships take effort. While it is so important to explore, learn about yourself, and just enjoy the adventure, it's also important to remember that hard work pays off. Keeping up with schoolwork allows for you to enjoy time off, putting in effort to meet new friends allows for you to get out of your comfort zone, and taking care of yourself allows for you to make the most out of your trip. 

The new obligations you’ll find while studying abroad don't have to be burdens. They offer an opportunity to learn so many important life skills and establish an independence that you probably have never experienced. I look back and remember how stressed I was to cook for myself and now I get excited to learn new recipes and try new foods. I remember the fear I felt purchasing a plane ticket or travel expense and now I do it with excitement. The best way to learn is through experience and the best experience comes from taking on new challenges. I look forward to my next blog in which I will share so many of my new experiences with you!