In three days time it will be exactly a month since I left the second home I had forged after a Semester in Auckland. I’m currently sat in Cairns (Australia) airport mulling over the last month and the highs and lows that come along with leaving your exchange city.
The end of your semester abroad consists of two unpleasant things. Exams and goodbyes. Saying goodbye to the amazing people I’d met and the city that became my home was amongst the most sad things I’ve ever done. I found myself taking pictures of everything around uni and working out in my head how I could afford to come back or visit the friends I’d made across the world. The horrible feeling you get saying bye is testament to the amazing experience you’ve bee through. Studying in Auckland was the best thing I’ve ever done, hands down.
Rather than dwelling in long goodbyes and seeing people leave one by one, I decided to go to the South Island for a bit of solo travel the day after my last exam. I packed up, checked out my accommodation and I was off. I really wanted to see if I could hitch hike and camp my way around the South Island before a flight to Australia that I’d booked. Travelling solo is an experience I would recommend, there are highs and lows but the highs are so much more rewarding. You also meet so many interesting people who you might never have spoken to if you were with a friend. I’m glad to say hitch hiking and camping in the midst of winter was successful (one or two sketchy moments, but that’s another story). I made it from Dunedin, South through the Catlins, across to Queenstown, up to Mt. Cook and finished in Christchurch in time for a flight to Sydney! I had the biggest sense of achievement making it around on my own with nothing but my bag and a tent. Travelling in this way was a good distraction from thinking about having left Auckland, although I did miss the people I’d met. It was very strange seeing everyone back in their home countries or still in Auckland on social media.
in Sydney I met a friend from home who had been out in Aus for a year working, as well a good friend I’d made in Auckland. After a few days in Sydney together we decided to fly up to Brisbane where we picked up a rental car and began a road trip around the Gold Coast and up to the Sunshine Coast. Aus was a lot warmer than NZ so camping was a bit more comfortable this time round. Aus is very different to NZ, largely in the sense that in Aus you notice the vast difference in population size. There’s a lot more big towns and cities, and I found myself a bit overwhelmed in some places, but it was also nice because a lot of the surfer towns had a great atmosphere. Byron Bay was the highlight, we ended up spending a lot more time there than we planned. Mount Beerwah and Australia Zoo were also memorable, loved it.
I said my goodbyes to the two of them in Noosa and I headed north by coach to Fraser Island, Magnetic Island, and eventually Cairns. I had to rush that vast distance with long coach journeys as I’d underestimated the size of the country and the amount of time I had.
I’m currently waiting for a flight to Bali, and I’m hoping to be travelling South East Asia for as long as my money allows (probably not long).
Saying goodbye to your exchange university doesn’t have to be the start of the comedown from study abroad. I loved study abroad and I’m loving this adventure.