Haere rā! (Goodbye!)

Hamilton, New Zealand
-37.782589300000, 175.252762400000
Journal Entry:

Saying goodbye to New Zealand was extremely difficult for me. I truly fell in love with the people I met, the places I saw and the experiences I had while I was there. Being in a country that managed the COVID-19 pandemic so well was also a critical part of my experience. Despite the pandemic, I was able spend nearly a month post-lockdown travelling, meeting new people and trying new things. Coming back to the U.S. meant returning to a place of fear, wearing a mask for the first time, and having to stay socially distant from the people I love after not seeing them for six months. However, my friends made my last few days in New Zealand something to remember! We took a trip to the Kiwi House to see native birds, we feasted and we reminisced about the good times we had together. When it was time to leave, my friend Jodie drove me to the airport, but she mixed up a.m. and p.m. and showed up at my dorm at five a.m. instead of five p.m.! I would not be completely honest if I said that I did not cry on the flight home. I was happy to see my family and other loved ones again, but I felt as though I had left a piece of my heart in New Zealand. I comfort myself knowing that one day I will be back to experience more of Aotearoa (New Zealand).