Kia ora everyone,
It’s been a while, I know. Two and a half months since I’ve been back, and made my last post. A month ago I sat outside of the Hub on campus, wrote out this entire post, then went home with the intention of sending it when I got there. I got distracted, and when I came back my laptop had updated. Nothing saved. I blame myself for being trusting enough to actually write the post on wordpress.
At the moment I am on a break between classes, sitting outside of Parks. It’s a beautiful day, and it feels good to be here. I am taking organic chemistry, trigonometry, 300 level Spanish, and vertebrate biology. The first three are very homework-loaded, and it frustrates me. American classes have considerably more busywork. I am not going to use o-chem in my career, but it’s required for my major? It’s the third week of classes. I’ve only gotten disenfranchised with the US tertiary education system and ended up in tears or on the floor thrice. Such is my way of coping with my frustration with online math and chemistry homework. 5 minutes, then I’m okay. I wasn’t ready for the actual work part of school, having enjoyed less than half of a summer. Part of my issues have come from not wanting to snap out of summer mentality, part of them are from working as much as I did when classes weren’t in session. Hopefully having my hours cut will help. New Zealand helped me learn to like black coffee (not just latte’s) and caffeinated tea, so I have my own at home. The more expensive stuff, because I have the right to be snobby sometimes. That helps, but if I can go without, I do. If my body is still tired when I drink a coffee I become a clear-headed zombie, in a horrible state of energized exhaustion. I have been writing out my schedule for the week every Sunday, with what things I need to do/start on what days. I’m proud of myself for it. I bought colorful pens and a cute planner so it feels like I’m coloring! I’m working on trying to do more than survive in school, which means not procrastinating things until the last moment. I may need to drop Spanish to be able to do so, which would be the end of me trying to get a minor, but I’ll give it another week.
Three days after I returned to the Land of the Flat Green Corn from the Land of the Long White Cloud, I left again for a class at Iowa Lakeside Lab. Lakeside is a field station at West Lake Okoboji, with two to four-week immersion courses. Last year I took ornithology (the -ology of birds), this year was Icthyology (freaking fish). I came back to science camp partially for the science, mostly because the food is phenomenal, and I had friends from last year that were interning for the summer. Definitely did not come back for mosquitoes and cabins without AC. What if mosquitoes weren’t a thing. Nonetheless, it was tons of fun. If heat and bugs are going to be the only annoyances in my career, I’ll take it. Here are some pictures from those two weeks:
I was in a relationship from November to the end of July. I didn’t want to take away from the main focus of this blog, but being long-distance with someone taught me a great deal. For those of you who are in or may be in this situation in the future, I want to say a couple things. First, do not accept behavior that you normally would not just because you aren’t together. If something is happening while you’re apart, reuniting is not going to magically fix everything. Second, do not sacrifice parts of yourself to fix someone else. Relationships are about people complementing each other, not completing one another. Call on your friends and family when you need support. That applies to relationships and being abroad. Don’t not do something out of fear, but don’t stay in situations that aren’t doing you any good.
Since I’ve come back I’ve gotten “How was Australia?” at least every other time I reunite with someone. Sigh. I correct them and try not to take it personally when they say “eh, same thing, right?” No, the difference is Australia sucks. Kidding. It’s really hard for me to describe 4 ½ months in a few sentences. “Incredible” is probably my best descriptor. I don’t have hours of catching up to do with most people, because the most important ones have been keeping up every step of the way.
Some things were weird at first. My brain had gotten used to cars being on the wrong side of the road. I only looked the wrong way first to cross the street once. I didn’t need to reteach myself how to drive, luckily. Reuniting with my Jeep felt GOOD. It is my baby and I missed it so. I had several moments of “Where am I? Suddenly I’m here and not there? Why is this so normal and foreign at the same time?”. That was about as close to culture shock as I got. I actually noticed the “natural smell” of my house when I first got back. I’m accustomed to it again, but it was surreal that my brain forgot the smell of my family. I slept a lot when I moved back to my place in Ames. I was enjoying my near-complete lack of responsibilities, but I also didn’t know what to do with myself. I worked out and hung out with friends, and normality returned. I’d missed my Land of the Flat Green Corn. There are some kiwi habits that I’ve picked up, mostly with language and eating. Along with the coffee, I almost always have a wheel of Brie in my fridge. I use cheers, jafe, and the c-word in conversation. Sometimes words and thoughts will come out with the hint of an accent. I don’t try to hold it back.
I still have moments that take me back to Aotearoa. To my friends, to Dunedin, to the mountains, and the sea. I doubt they will ever go away. I hope they don’t. I’ve kept in touch with my flatmates, it was great reaching out to them in the group chat after a couple months and having everyone respond, excited to catch up. My new love-interest and I watched “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” last week, a Kiwi movie about a boy and his grumpy old man of a foster-parent who get lost in the wilderness and start a nationwide manhunt. We both thought it was hilarious and touching. 10/10 would recommend and watch again. It was somewhat nostalgia-inducing, but not as much as my flat mate’s 4-minute stitch-film of the videos she took over the course of the semester. Mine, if it ever happens, will never be this good. I wish I’d upgraded to an iPhone 7 before leaving, but I had to wait to drop mine in the shower after getting back. I was just trying to sing and get clean simultaneously. Here’s the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlOqwjJ_TII&feature=youtu.be. I cry every time. Love you, Mack. And Kaitlyn. And Hugh. And Angus. Juicy Pineapple forever.
Also, I know at the top I said I was sitting outside of the library. That was yesterday. Right now I’m at home, about to go play tennis with my mom and brother. ISU just lost to the Hawks, so we’re going to mourn our loss at a restaurant later, after my dad gets home. I have almost never actually been doing what I wrote I was doing when I uploaded each post, even though it would have been easy for me to update what I was actually doing when I published the post. I’m going to turn it into a metaphor now.
Life happens. You’re not always going to make the most logical, time or money-conscious decisions. I just dyed my hair purple and got a new piercing. Think about things, but don’t get in your own way. Studying abroad is not cheap, but it is worth it. Don’t be afraid to spend money on things that are important to you. Good metaphor? No? It doesn’t matter! I like it.
I will be back someday. It will be years before I have an income steady enough, but I’ll get there. For now, I have pictures, video, my friends, and this blog. I hope you all have had as much fun reading this as I have had writing it. Thank you to the ISU Study Abroad Center for this opportunity, and thank you to everyone in my life who helped me along the way.
For the last time, cheers.