This was one of the hardest things I have done. There is still so much of Europe
that I want to travel, there are so many people that I want to meet… I absolutely
fell in love with Lund, as a city and a university; and there are so many friends here
that are so dear to me. It is hard to fathom leaving Lund, and not returning after a
weekend away; and it is even harder to think that for so many of my friends here,
this is the last time for at least a year or so that I’ll see them.
However, it is only when you truly miss something that you know you had
something worthwhile. So, sad as I am to be leaving Lund, I know that the
friendships and memories I’ve made; and all of the things I’ve learnt, whether in
classes, in my own head about myself, or about the world around me; these are all
things that make this experience worthwhile.
I cannot recommend a university exchange highly enough. It is an incredible
experience, and unlike any other form of travel you will ever have the opportunity
For those of you who are nervous -as I was going into this, thinking that 7.5
months would be a long time away from home, and would be hard to get through know
that it is much easier than you would expect.
You are surrounded by people who want to make connections and travel and
spend time together, so you won’t be lonely. You can call, video-call, and message
friends and family back home any time you like. But you will be so busy, and so
excited, that these few months will absolutely fly by. Now that it has come time to
leave Lund, I can’t believe how long it has already been since I left home, and I
can’t believe that I don’t want to return just yet! I love my friends and family, and
thought I would get homesick fairly easily… I won’t lie, there have definitely been
days when it was harder to be away from everyone back home, and when I’ve
missed people and places. But on those days, I would video-call the people I miss,
and it’s almost as good as having them here with me. And I would go and spend
time with my friends here, and be reminded that I have people here who love and
support me now too.
It seems so monumental, leaving home to run to just about the opposite end of the
world… and it is. It is a massive thing to do, but an incredible, wonderful, magical
massive thing. Trust that you will find friends here, and that you will be so busy
having so many incredible experiences, that it will be worth the days and brief
moments when you wish you were home instead of here.
For me, this was also my first time moving out of home, as I live with my parents in
Auckland. I loved having a bit more freedom and living on my own! It doesn’t feel
lonely, as all of the uni accomodation means that you always have options to hang
out with people, and it’s easy to make lots of new friends! You can get apps and
things to help you manage your budget if you’re worried about that. It’s honestly
so worth branching out and giving it a go!
After all, everything here is temporary. It wasn’t as hard as I had thought, to leave
NZ and everyone that I love there, because I always knew that I would be coming
back soon enough.
Comparatively, it is hard to leave Lund. I know I might never be back
here, and that even if I did return, it would never be the same, with the same people here, or the same experiences.
So my advice to anyone reading this, whether you’re only thinking about an
exchange, or whether you’ve already committed to it, and you’re a bundle of
excited-nerves and don’t know what to do with yourself: take the leap and enjoy it.
Don’t feel guilty for leaving your friends or family, or partner. Do it for yourself –
know that it will be one of the best things you will ever do for yourself, and know
that you will be back in NZ sooner than you imagined. I have spent so much time
on this trip marveling at the world around me, and wondering how it is possible
that my life, ordinary little me from New Zealand, could ever be so incredibly
magical. The fact at the end of the day is that if you want your life to be magical,
you have to go out into the world and get stuck into it all!
My best memories are the times that I decided to invite everyone over for a potluck dinner; the time we put on a ‘kiwi classics’ playlist and I jumped up and sung my heart out with the other kiwis, despite being one of very few people singing (and I do not sing well); the times we wandered into the snow in the dark and stood for an hour to see the
Northern Lights; the times I spent travelling Turkey by myself despite having been
scared about the political situation before going; the times I biked for an hour to
spend a sunny afternoon at the quarry; the times I ran outside in jandals to try and
catch snowflakes on my tongue with my Canadian friend dying of laughter at my
joy at seeing snow; the times I went to various sittnings, not necessarily knowing
anyone else that would be there, and made new friends and slowly learnt to sing
I am so grateful for the luck that I had that made my time in Europe so amazing,
and I am so grateful to the amazing people I met who contributed to making my
time here so wonderful; but I am just as grateful to myself for going out into the
world and just doing it all! Giving it all my best effort, taking the time to enjoy every
moment, and learn whatever I could; and knowing that I have accomplished many
things to be proud of on this trip.
So do it! And love it! And love yourself for having the courage to do it!