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. That day, someone wished me a "Happy Birthday" in Maori (Harihuritau kia koe) and an English student named Genevieve sang me the Happy Birthday song. However, no alcohol was consumed that night, at least not by me. Halloween also passed during my study break.
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 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 thought-provoking, and I might even pursue a career in the field. 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 four months, 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 a small, rural liberal arts college), this was a welcomed bit of home for me.
Haere ra, Aotearoa. Ka kite ano akuanei!