I’m going to be totally honest: I started this blog as part of an application for a scholarship (which I didn’t get), but writing that first post was a bit more fun than I had expected. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but haven’t done much recently for school or for pleasure, so I figured, what the heck. I plan on cataloging my study abroad through video, I might as well include some thoughts here as well and see where it takes me.
So yeah. Comfort zones. I have one, and it has become painfully apparent to me in the past few years how easily I turn down opportunities to break out of it. This trip, for me, will be the ultimate step towards completely stepping out of that zone and into… whatever is outside of it, I suppose. To clarify, my zone is at home, with the dog and the boyfriend. It makes me feel safe, and at ease. To think about stepping out of it brings along pangs of anxiety, something I never knew or understood well until college. I do feel that I’ve taken some steps recently to explore myself a little more, I posted a video online where I actually talked to the camera!!!! (Very terrifying, I know). I also started committing to yoga practice and healthier eating (maybe I’ll actually do it this time, ya never know) and dyed my hair purple (which unsurprisingly faded very quickly).
But this is different. I have friends who travel like it’s a walk in the park, friends who went on annual family vacations overseas and feel comfortable experiencing new cultures. Maybe that is their comfort zone. I have never left the country before, and I am currently a mix of all of the emotions (with less than two weeks to go before I take off). I’m leaving my dog, my family, my boyfriend, my home, my BED for five and half months to traverse a new country with two girls that I do not know very well (even though I know they will be amazing companions).
Okay, now that I’ve gotten some of the details that scare me out of the way, let me talk about what I am looking forward to. These are the details that remind me why I am doing this, and that everything will in fact be okay.
First, I am going to a super safe country with famously kind residents who just so happen to speak the same language that I do, just with a bit of a funky accent and interesting jargon. Did you know that New Zealand isn’t inhabited by man-killing insects and creepy-crawlies, like its neighbor Australia? Second, since I’m doing a semester exchange as opposed to a study abroad, I will be studying at one school and will be able to really get to know my new professors and fellow students. I currently study design at a technical school, so it will be amazing to be able to continue my design classes at Victoria University of Wellington which has a different approach to design. Plus, I will be able to take corresponding studio classes so I won’t fall behind on my studies at Georgia Tech.
Lastly, from what I’ve heard and read, it seems like the entire country at one point in time took a collective chill pill. Seriously, they are all so laid back. You take three classes a semester, you go tramping (backpacking) on the weekends, you surf the waves then ski down the snowy mountains, it’s all good. A girl who is WWOOFing (I’ll explain that later) in NZ explained that the Kiwis have a different perspective than Americans, that they think positively and look for solutions instead of complaining. Obviously I still have a lot to learn first-hand about their culture, but it seems to be just about the perfect place to chill out with some sheep and learn about design.
All in all, this is going to be an eye-opening experience, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it had I not pushed myself to fly 8,198 miles outside of my comfort zone, or if I didn’t have an amazing supportive family. I’d like to thank them with more than just words, but I am not exactly sure how yet, so for now I’ll just stick with a simple thank you.