Being away from home for nearly five months made me realize:
-I knew I loved my family and friends from home, but I didn’t recognize how much
I didn’t go with anyone I knew and I’ve never really had to be completely on my own before. I’ve lived in the same house all my life and I grew up with the same people all through high school. I became aware that at times I take the relationships I have for granted, just because they’ve always been there. Studying abroad has really made me appreciate the people I have in my life even more.

-I am more capable of being independent than I thought:
The first hurdle that made me realize this was actually making it to New Zealand. Going there was the first time out of the country for me, so I was pretty happy I was able to navigate all that way on my own. Since I didn’t know anyone I had to rely on myself to figure things out. Even classes were more independent. Besides one of my tutorials, you were never required to go and the only assessments I had were a paper and a final in each of my classes. Towards the end of my time I even went on a three day tramp by myself- something common in New Zealand but I would have never done something like that before.

-Grades aren’t everything:
Usually my grades take top priority, but there were so many better things to do in New Zealand rather than doing homework. Even though teachers graded on a similar difficultly level, I spent so much less time doing school work.  It made me realize that although grades are important, the experiences I take away from college matter so much more.

-I need to be more confident and stick up for myself more:
On one of the last trips I took in New Zealand my friends and I got to talking about what we’ve learned from being abroad. I’m not really sure how this lesson came to be learned, but we all mentioned it in some way or another. Maybe it’s just the realization that we are no longer kids, but young adults. With no one to guide us we had to make decisions completely by ourselves. No matter how we’ve come to this conclusion, it nevertheless is a valuable lesson to have learned.

It’s safe to say I definitely had my ups and downs, but overall I’m so glad I chose NZ. It is such an amazing place and the perfect country for me to have gone to.

Cindy Frisch is studying abroad at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.