I still feel as though spending seven months in New Zealand was all a dream. I have been on wild adventures and have met wonderful people while I was studying abroad in Wellington. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect the feeling of true happiness. It was the breath of fresh air I needed. What brought me up to that point had a lot to do with the mindset I wanted to maintain. Before I went on my adventure, I wanted to keep reminding myself to keep and open heart and an open mind.
I was really worried about not being able to make friends when I got to the country I was going to be in. When I was on the plane at LAX, I remember the anxious thoughts of being too needy or loquacious to people I would meet. Taking a deep breath and collecting my thoughts, I told myself that I would be friendly to everyone and to not take things so personally. Putting pressure to "find myself" or to be a completely different person was a simple no-go for me. The main goal was to go at my own pace at my own time in whatever adventure came my way.
When I arrived in New Zealand, things just seemed to fall right into place when I kept meeting new people as I traveled. Eventually, I did find my tribe of friends at the university I studied at. It can be argued that the reason why I was content in New Zealand was that I met people in the right place and at the right time. But really, the main fact is that I did not try too hard to make friends. By continuing on meeting new people, I found out what kind of person I was and what the right scene was for me.
In a way, I did find myself. Being in New Zealand gave me a sense of peace. It was slow paced and I did not feel rushed to do anything. Meeting new people in this type of setting gave me the opportunity to easily make friends with the people I went on adventures with. Admittedly, I was not at the party scenes all the time, in fact, I was hardly ever at a local bar. The niche I had with my friends was going on hikes, trying different ramen shops, and listening to conversations of philosophy. Those memories will always be vivid in my mind and greatly missed.
The breath of fresh air I had in New Zealand did clear my mind about how I thought of people. I want to keep applying the idea of having an open heart and an open mind when I go to different countries and meet new people; it may just give me another adventure I will never forget. Even if you are briefly seeing someone and know that your paths will go separate ways, it's always worth being friendly to them. You never know where kindness will get you and how far it will take you if you simply have an open heart and an open mind.
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