By Mariam Ali, Simon Fraser University, winner of the 2017 Stories from Abroad Scholarship and a member of the BC Study Abroad Writer in Residence Team
When I came back to Vancouver from my time in Europe, I had trouble readjusting to my new life. I disliked being stuck in the suburbs and not being able to explore other cities and countries like I could during my exchange. It was for that reason that I bought a ticket for New Zealand three weeks after I returned and flew there mid-December. My exchange had given me a desire to get out of my comfort zone to explore the world and I now had the confidence to do so.
Going to New Zealand was a comparatively less intimidating experience because I already had family there who would welcome and take care of me. Since this was the first time I was meeting these relatives, it was a bit like meeting strangers. Thankfully though, my experience meeting people and making friends during exchange gave me an example of how to interact with them. My cousins were also very warm and caring people, a lot like the other exchange students I met in Strasbourg, so it was easy to become friends with them. A large part of why I want to explore the world is because I want to meet the relatives I have in different countries.
My time abroad also taught me what I wanted to get out of my travels. I wanted amazing experiences, so I tried many new activities for the first time, such as snorkelling, luging and bodysurfing. I also wanted to relax and take care of myself since the Fall semester had been so busy and stressful for me. I took the opportunity to visit a lot of regional parks and go swimming in the beach. I stayed in New Zealand for a month, visiting many cities and natural wonders in the North Island. Overall, it was a wonderful opportunity to go off and explore the world again.