It’s been almost three months since I’ve arrived in New Zealand and unfortunately it’s coming to an end. As I sit here in a Starbucks in Rotorua (I know, how original) and write this post, I reflect on the last few months. It was just what I needed when all I wanted to do was sleep all day in the middle of Chicago’s bitter winter after getting laid off from a job that I never wanted in the first place.
Mid-February I arrived in New Zealand with a visa that allows me to live and work in the country for up to one year. Having already experienced something similar in Australia, I didn’t have a strong desire to experience it again. And, also, having been laid off from a job back in the states made me really stop and think about how I kept going for the same type of boring office work environment. The type of job that can’t keep a creative soul like mine still and makes be feel like I’m suffocating. The type of job that brought no value to my life and always kept me 5 steps away from my life goals.
And, the next thing I knew, I was in New Zealand searching for flats in Wellington and getting ready to look for an office job once again. I felt like I was making myself do something I secretly didn’t want to. I appreciated the experience I had in Australia and the jobs I did while I lived there. I just didn’t want to work in New Zealand. Of course, I realized this after I packed a massive suitcase full of clothes I didn’t need, applied for my tax number, set up a bank account and spent one week looking for flats.
After my last job in the states, I wasn’t sure if I could handle being in yet another office environment – even if it was in a different country. Sure, I could’ve done something different – worked in a cafe or as a waitress. I could’ve worked on farm or tried woofing. But I just wanted my time to be my time. It sounds selfish. Perhaps even irresponsible. But I didn’t want to go by anyone’s schedule. The only schedule I followed were the bus time slots taking me from one amazing destination to another.
I enjoyed taking the bus everywhere. I bought a flexipass from InterCity, which was quite affordable. The seats were comfortable. The scenery was breathtaking. New Zealand is a small enough country that taking the bus from one destination to another doesn’t take too long. I didn’t fly anywhere within the country. I just took ferries and buses and it was amazing.
I ditched Plan A (work and find a flat), got rid of some clothes and just traveled (secret to my happy heart). I loved every minute of it – even when I was hiking up a mountain that went uphill the entire time and I was dripping in sweat and out of breath. OK, some moments I didn’t love so much.
I temporarily left my massive suitcase in Wellington and picked up a mini suitcase as I traveled around the South Island for about a month. And I absolutely loved traveling light for that month. It was annoying to do laundry so often but it felt so freeing that I didn’t have to struggle carrying my stuff up and down stairs or take 5 hours to pack and unpack or decide what to wear.
I enjoyed being in control of my travels, schedule and time. Take a nap in the afternoon? Sure, why not? Take a hot yoga class followed by a smoothie? Yes, please. Hike a glacier that’s slowly disappearing and won’t be here in ten years? Sounds cool. Spend a few hours in a cafe drinking cappuccinos and writing pieces for that book that I’ve been working on? Sounds perfect. Go on a date with a random boy I met on Tinder who turned out to be obsessed with me and wouldn’t stop texting me? Er, maybe I shouldn’t have done that last one.
The point is, my time was my time. And I didn’t want to spend it stuck in an office behind a computer all day. I didn’t want to spend it behind a counter messing up someone’s coffee beverage or on a farm hoping that I wouldn’t run into a spider or some other creepy crawler. I wanted to do what I wanted; when I wanted.
And I did.
I made friends and we went on hikes together. I saw an amazing sunset in Kaikoura. I checked myself into a fancy-pants hotel in Dunedin for two days to get away from all of the amazing people I’ve been meeting, slept in a giant bed and treated myself to a facial and hot stone massage. I indulged in 12 days of hot yoga while chilling in Wellington (a city I’ve grown to love). I enjoyed walking around Christchurch and observing how they’re working to rebuild the city after the major earthquake that occurred a few years ago, destroying the city.
My time was my time. And it was beautiful. It was freeing and enlightening. It helped me gain clarity when I felt really confused.
I’m a bit sad that my joinery is coming to an end, but I’m also getting to that “I’m exhausted” point, so perhaps it’s a good thing I’m taking a travel break. And, also, my money won’t last me forever – that, too.
I found myself happier than I have in months prior to this trip. New Zealand was just what my heart needed.