If there is one thing I want to hold onto it is the ‘Exchange Student Ethos’. There is something about being in a new place that makes you run toward opportunity. It makes you delete your Netflix and get up for sunrises. You become the person who says ‘hi!’ first in lecture theaters, and then invites the crew to go out to an actual theater afterwards. You book trips away. You say ‘let’s do this’ like you’re a 2017 NZ Labour billboard, and you follow through. This isn’t my default self, usually my ethos is more of a Panic! And Hope it Works Out.
The second day after I moved into my university of Edinburgh accommodation I had a “Why on Earth Did You Fly To The Other Side Of The World” moment. My flat mates hadn’t moved in yet. The building was empty, and I didn’t know where to buy bedsheets that didn’t feel like hospital blankets.
I’ve had a few of those moments on this journey like when I thought I left my Visa application to late (it arrived with more than a few weeks to spare), or when I tried to pack six months into a 21kg suit case (I had to Marie Kondo everything).
I was sitting by myself, the first of my flat to arrive, in a new city and a new country – wondering how long I had to wait before I could call home with the time zone difference and not wake anyone up.
I think moments like that are inevitable. I decide to text a friend I’d made here instead of calling home. We went out to my first Scottish Ceilidh, I tripped over myself (and others) more than once. I laughed, and danced (when you don’t know what you’re doing, a Ceilidh is more of a contact sport than a dance). That night I meet people who would become some of my closest friends here.
I’ve found that it’s worth it to join societies. It’s worth it to get up early. To get involved as quickly and as deeply as you as you can. Because if you’re in a new place you want to get to know it, and it’s hard to do that from the sidelines. I joined way too many societies in my first week: the Murder Mystery Society, the Literary society, Creative Writing, Politics Society, the Hill Walking Club and more than send me emails and clog my inbox. I definitely don’t attend them all (I may have been slightly to overambitious), but I’ve discovered new things I would never had done at home. I wonder if I can live in Auckland with the enthusiasm that I live in Edinburgh. I want to turn my ‘Exchange Student Ethos’ into a ‘Student Ethos’. I don’t know, maybe that’s just part of traveling, or maybe that’s something I could bring home with me. But I’m definitely not heading home yet – so I’ve still got time to figure it out.