Like any kid, the idea of no homework and no tests or quizzes seems like a dream come true. But in fact, I have missed the academic challenges of Mater Dei. So while I’m here, I’ve decided to embrace the other sorts of things that I’m learning in New Zealand.
For starters, I had thought of New Zealand as a tropical island with beaches and not much modernization. Once I got here though, I realized that those thoughts were pretty ignorant. Gisborne, and all of New Zealand, is just as modern and revolutionized as the rest of the world. They have big cities and new stores, and they use the same technology as we have at home. Really, it’s just like any other city that I’ve been to. But most importantly for me is that the kids aren’t any different. Sure, they have an awesome accent, but they’re just like any normal kid in the US: They listen to the same types of music, some play the same sports, they play the same games (yes, Fortnite has made it here too), and they all speak English.
Also, my mom and I had thought that people wouldn’t have the same hectic sports schedules as they do in D.C., but they do. A lot of my friends play cricket, and they have practice more than once a week and leave school sometimes for big tournaments. The same goes with soccer, which I can relate more to. And even here, the Irwins are busy: Chloe’s horseback riding, my tennis twice a week, and Surf Life Saving Club on Sunday’s. Things may not be as crazy, but it’s more than we thought we’d have.
The small amount of plastic used and the large amount of recycling that is done here has also changed my perspective on the US’s and the world’s effect on the environment. Here we use barely any plastic or aluminum foil and instead use a honeycomb wrap that is reusable. We’ve only bought one box of Ziploc bags (which we haven’t finished yet) and, we have two recycling bins, one for paper/cardboard and one for plastic/glass. In NZ they also make you pay to take your trash, so Dad really makes us recycle and not just throw away! I never would have learned about this if we hadn’t moved to NZ.
At school, I’m also taking tech classes such as woodwork, cooking, music, art, and other classes that teach me things that I probably wouldn’t have done back home or would have had to learn from Mom or Dad. I’m also seeing how blended the Maori culture is with regular society and schools. Our morning prayer in school is half spoken in Maori and we even have played a game in PE based off of the Maori gods.
Most of all though, I’ve learned that even if what you do in life isn’t what you thought you’d be doing, it’s ok. A year ago when I lived in D.C., that was the only place I had ever lived, and two of my grandparents were 30 minutes away, and the other two just a quick plane trip away. Most of my family was easily reachable, and I had all of my friends near me. I had almost everything near by, and that’s how I wanted it to stay. When I was told the news about our trip, I assumed that my life in America was going to end and that when I came back, things wouldn’t be the same.
But now I know that a little twist or something uncalled for isn’t always the biggest deal. I just need to believe that it’ll be all right and that things can turn out the way I’d like them to if I just “go with the flow”.