This past Monday I took my last exam! I’ve officially finished my semester here at The University of Waikato, and just like that, it’s nearly over. Five months in New Zealand… in the past.

Yesterday I was overcome with nostalgia. I noticed how pretty the sunset was from my bedroom window and wished I would have made a point to have watched more of them. Immediately I grabbed my camera and leaned out the window to take photos, trying to preserve memories from what little time I had left. I started wondering if I had explored the city enough, had I traveled enough, did I meet enough new people? Had I spent my time wisely, had I learned about myself, have I changed, have I matured? ‘Personal growth’ is what’s supposed to happen on Study Abroad, that’s the real point, isn’t it? It’s what everyone writes on the application form for the ‘What do you hope to gain from this experience?’ essay question.

Well, I think I’ve learned a few things. I guess I’ll find out for sure when I head back to where I came from. There are things here that I’ve become fond of (like cheap “Takeaway” joints on every corner or the complete lack of SUVs on the roads) that I’ve become used to – and therefore forgotten – that I think I’ll realize, once I’m stateside, that I really miss.

My parents arrive in 4 days to come travel the country with me. After that, they’re off to Fiji, and I’m on a plane back home. During international student orientation the first week of school, a speaker talked about culture shock, and reverse culture shock – missing the country you studied in after you left. I figured that was rather odd and didn’t give it much thought. After this semester here though, I won’t be surprised once I’m home if I do experience some of that reverse culture shock. I know it probably sounds hackneyed, but the places, people, and experience has really been unforgettable.