Endings are fickle things. Sometimes we loathe them, sometimes we love them. Some are avoided, some are welcomed. Some come too quick, some bide their time slowly. And some, of course, aren’t so black and white.
I knew when I boarded that Air New Zealand flight back in February that I would be returning to the States July 6. It was a harsh deadline that loomed over me the entirety of the semester. Most days it seemed so distant, but eventually it was staring me down and I had no way to escape. I, like most, had mixed feelings on our departure. We were torn between wanted to keep traveling (especially now that final exams were completed and classes officially over) but we also wanted to see our family and return to the comforts of home, mostly our beds (Uni Hall bed rating: 1/10).
But here’s what it boiled down to: we were sad. Or, at least, I was. I built a life in Wellington, but it wasn’t leaving that life behind that bothered me so much as the idea that I might never be back. Every study abroad student in the history of studying abroad surely pledges they will return to their beloved country of choice, but how many actually get to? Sometimes life just gets in the way, especially when it comes to New Zealand and Australia, countries that are further away and much more challenging to travel to. Do I intend to go back? Absolutely. Will I? I don’t know.
With that thought, it was difficult to leave New Zealand, the country I fell in love with over and over again. But I don’t think endings like that should be sad. Rather, I think we must learn to cherish endings. Sometimes knowing nothing lasts forever is the only way to truly fall in love with all the moments and all the people who are meant to take our breath away.
It was because I knew the end was coming that I made the most of my time abroad. I spent my six months with in the mindset that I cannot have any regrets if I don’t get the opportunity to return. So, I hiked a glacier, I galloped horses through mountain valleys, I grew in my faith, I went skydiving, I went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, I hiked mountains, I met amazing new people, I turned misadventures into memories, I sat beneath a cloudless night sky and stared up at the Milky Way.
It was truly remarkable and undeniably unforgettable.
I may not be in New Zealand anymore, but I don’t think this is really an end, just part of a grander journey. And like any journey, you just change directions and keep going.