During my study break two notable occasions passed. I "celebrated" my 21st birthday on October 26 with two Hell personal cheese pizza's (Hell is to New Zealand as Pizza Hut is to the United States) and a mini Lord of the Rings marathon. I also handed in essays for two friends in Student Village who both chose traveling over studying (which may have been the better decision). Someone did wish me a Happy Birthday in Maori (Harihuritau kia koe) though, and an English student named Genevieve sang me the Happy Birthday song. Sadly, no alcohol was consumed that night, at least not by me. Halloween also came and went during my study break. I think I may have watched Scream 3 (?) Way to celebrate, huh?
My final week at Waikato was a busy one. I saved all my laundry/packing/room cleaning until after my finals, so I had just two days to get everything done. Sadly, I also had to say goodbye to (and hug) a lot of people. My Kiwi friend and bloc mate Josh and I jokingly made plans to meet up in Vegas in 20 years. Because New Zealand is so far away, it's unlikely that I will see most of my fellow students again (apart from the Americans).
I can honestly say that decision to study abroad was one of the best I've ever made (if not the best). Because Juniata doesn't offer many Economics courses, I needed to go abroad in order to broaden my background in the subject. I learned a lot from both Economics courses I took while at Waikato. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics was particularly inspiring, and I may even pursue a career in the field. However, a stronger Economics background is only one thing I've gained from studying abroad. In the long run, I think I will benefit more from the experience of traveling on my own. Before this trip, I worried about taking a train to Pittsburgh by myself. Over the past 4 months however, I've grown more confident in my abilities- including the ability to ask for help when I need it.
Waikato has a large international student population, and for many of my American friends here, this semester marked the first time they've lived with students of different nationalities. Because Juniata does a great job of attracting international students (especially for such a small school), this was a welcomed bit of home for me.
Currently, I'm relaxing at a hotel in Manukau, the location of the Auckland airport. Since my check-out time is 10 am tomorrow morning, and my flight to San Francisco doesn't leave until after 7, I'll be waiting for more than 8 hours at the airport tomorrow. After my 12 hour flight from Auckland to San Francisco, I will leave on another flight to Philadelphia 4 hours later. My second flight is over 5 hours long, but compared to the one preceding it, it's really no big deal. If everything goes according to plan, I'll touch down in Philadelphia around 11:30 pm. I wouldn't recommend trying to figure out how one can leave New Zealand at 7 pm and arrive in Pennsylvania by midnight- It will just make your head hurt. It's been an amazing semester, and I'm really going to miss the welcoming, laid-back atmosphere here...and the lack of political ads.
Haere ra, Aotearoa. Ka kite ano akuanei!