I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t reluctant to leave New Zealand…

As the final few months trickle away, I am forced to confront the notion of coming home and I’m honestly in such mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I am excited to see friends and family again in person. I didn’t return over Christmas, so it will be a year since I last saw them – the longest I have ever been away from home! That being said, I have really settled in here. New Zealand has become just as familiar to me as Southampton has become since attending university there and, while it has only been a year, in many ways it feels like it has been longer. The routine I have fallen into is almost second nature and it will be disjointing to adapt back to the way things were before I left.

There are numerous things that I am anticipating will be different when I come back to the UK – some of them obvious and some I couldn’t have predicted when I first arrived. So, to keep this post from getting too long, I have included 3 things that I will miss from New Zealand and 3 things I am looking forward to back home (in no particular importance):

What I Will Miss About Wellington/New Zealand

#1) Friends

Most predictably, I will miss the friends I have made in New Zealand. I’m sure this is a frequent experience regardless of where you travel, and although I somewhat doubted my ability to make meaningful connections, there is a considerable list of people whom I will miss. Just like I did with my friends from the UK, I hope to stay in contact with many of them via social media, but for most the chances of seeing them again is rather slim. New Zealand is a long way away after all. Most prominently, I will miss the community I found during my time at the University Fencing Club here in Wellington. Learning the sport has been an incredible opportunity and I am hoping to find a way to continue learning back home!

#2) The Flora/Fauna

Not that there is anything wrong with UK wildlife (in fact, I am looking forward to being around it again!), but I will certainly miss the sounds and smells of New Zealand bush. With special focus on the birdsong in Wellington so close to the Zealandia sanctuary, I have been so lucky to experience the best of New Zealand wildlife as it continues to grow in strength thanks to conservation efforts. I have nothing but admiration for the ecological efforts of the people here to preserve their native species and the result of this has been a melodic chorus of unique sounds and an eye-watering landscape that I get to wake up to everyday. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world, and I will certainly miss it!

#3) The City

As a country girl, I have rarely had the opportunity to experience city life. I got a taste in Southampton, and even more so here in Wellington. Nevertheless, thanks to its small size and sense of cosiness (especially compared to the likes of London or Auckland for example), Wellington never felt too overwhelming. The traffic is moderate to quiet, the people are largely polite, well-meaning, and helpful, and, backdropped by rolling green hills, blue water, and populated with pretty white buildings, the façade of the city itself is aesthetically absolutely gorgeous! There are, of course, less attractive areas (as there will be anywhere in the world you go and the student streets are often about as untidy as you would expect), however these spaces are minimal. Moreover, never once did I feel afraid for my safety. The city is well laid out and accessible and if you find yourself lost, there will always be someone around who is willing to offer help. It has been by far my favourite place in New Zealand (although I will openly admit my bias!) and I truly hope to return sometime in the future!


What I am Looking Forward To Back Home

#1) Friends/Family

This is the main one, of course. As I mentioned previously, it will have been a year since seeing friends and family in person and, in that regard, it has somewhat reminded me of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Since being on the other side of the planet, communication with loved ones from home has become exclusively done through texts, and zoom calls (as you would expect). In many ways, the lockdown prepared me well for the technology and resignation of a lack of physical contact (and I’m not a touchy-feely person to begin with, which also helps). Nevertheless, I am equally looking forward to seeing everyone in person, because at the end of the day, nothing beats the real thing! I also think that this time away has been beneficial in terms of learning a greater level of independence. Unable to return as frequently as I was able to during my time in Southampton, the physical (and time) difference has necessarily meant that I am encouraged to make more important decisions by myself. I have come to rely on my own judgement to a greater degree and I think this has had a welcome impact on my self-confidence and decision-making skills going forward!

#2) Flat Ground

The scenery around Wellington is gorgeous – there’s no denying it – but I am certainly looking forward to the level ground of home! Coming from Suffolk (wherein much of the ground is below sea-level), the transition to Wellington where I am forced to hike up and down hills everyday was something that took me a while to get used to. The amount of times I planned a walk on Google Maps that looked to be a reasonable distance, only to forget to check the satellite or topography map and discover that the route involved traversing multiple steep hills… Needless to say, my calves have had a good workout this past year and, while the exercise is certainly welcome, I am looking forward to the easy walks of home. This will be particularly significant when looking for places to go running as in Wellington I am restricted to the sports hall or the dock (unless I want to go running up and down hills, which is definitely pushing it!).

#3) Future Adventures

I am delighted to say that my time in New Zealand has been a resounding success in every way. One of the best things about this is that it has only invigorated my wanderlust and given me the confidence to look for similar opportunities in the future. There is so much of the world to explore and with this first step, I already have so many lessons I can carry with me to make this possible. From visas, insurance, flights, and risk assessment to living away from home, adapting to a new environment/people/culture, and settling into a routine, to backpacking, money management, and how to make the most of incredible opportunities, this year has been nothing short of transformative and educational. It is admittedly sad to see it coming to an end, but that only means I can start to look forward to a new adventure down the line and there are already countless destinations on my mind – now to start thinking about how to actually go about bringing them into a realistic plan…


As of writing this, I still have around 2 more months left of New Zealand time. There are still a number of things I would like to experience before I leave (although, as I have stated before, I readily intend to return at some point in the future!). Nevertheless, I am equally excited to return home and see everyone again and resume my studies in Southampton – with my final year right around the corner, there is plenty to be thinking about! I am sure there will be many unexpected consequences of spending so long away and I wonder if bananas and bread will be as odd to me in the UK as they first tasted when I first arrived in New Zealand (see my first ever blog post to understand where I am coming from).

For now, however, goodbye New Zealand. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking to complete a study abroad programme or even just for a visit (in fact, New Zealand has one of the best Working-Holiday Visas for backpackers with a network of quality hostels and traveller-friendly experiences and transportation). It might be quite the long journey to get here, but I can wholeheartedly promise it will be well-worth it!

As a parting treat, please enjoy this collection of oddly motivational graffiti that I found around New Zealand!

My Study Abroad Year: The New Zealand Files (Saying Goodbye)

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