Notes From The Road: Goodbye, New Zealand

I usually live in St. Paul, Minnesota but for the last nine months I’ve been traveling: through India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia.  I spent the last three months living in my second hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.  You can read about my previous travel adventures here.



It was not without tears that I left my second hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.  In fact, I spent numerous nights sighing melodramatically over drinks and pinching my hand under the table so I wouldn’t cry and ruin a perfectly nice good-bye dinner with friends.I’ve lived in Wellington before – from November ’06-March ’08 – when I studied things like tomato vs. tomahto at The University of Victoria, Wellington.  I lived in a little cottage in Mt. Vic with my then boyfriend, my Wellington bestie and her boyfriend.  I came back again this year to the exact same cottage and the exact same flatmates – and it was fantastic.

And really?  I spent the last three months doing lovely, wonderful, not-particularly-New Zealandy things.  I went to book club and hippie choir.  I went out dancing.  I spent many, many, many evenings with my flatmates playing guitar hero, drinking wine, solving the world’s problems, dancing ourselves out of bad moods by listening to Ke$ha.  After five months of climbing into Thai sex worker lady aquariums, throwing up on trains and not eating maggots, I was thrilled to unpack my bags and hang out with old friends.

And I’m not entirely sure why I’m so sad to leave New Zealand.  I’m ready to go home and see my family and American friends.  I’m ready for a few new cities and a bit of adventure.  I’m (very) ready for the northern hemisphere summer and all the mosquitoes and barbeques that go with it.

But I still had to kiss the corner of that little cottage as I said goodbye and begin stockpiling money to come back next year.

Have you ever lived abroad?  How did you feel about going home?

Wanna know how I quite my job and travel for such long periods of time?  Check out my travel ebooks!  12,000 + words, 60 minute podcast, $15!


Laurie Safari

I have lived abroad three times now, and going home is always a tug of war. The first time I lived abroad was to study at UCC in Cork, Ireland for five months with my three best gal-pals this side of the Milky Way (fantastic!). Oh, and how the leaving bit was gut wrenching! (Fyi, crying on a plane only makes air sickness worse.) Yet, after that first trip overseas, all of my subsequent leavings have been much more bittersweet-tear-in-the-eye and a lot less.. damp and snotty.

My last real adventure abroad took place in Rennes, France where I got to teach English to tiny, gorgeous French children for a year. There were ups and downs, but I totally fell in love with the place. And yet, I was ready when the time came to go back home. I was a bit down, but I didn't shed a single tear. Maybe I'm getting better at this?


I've never lived abroad but I would love to. I keep thinking I would love to spend 3 or 6 months in Spain. I'm not sure how I would support myself there though. Also, at 30, am I too old to dump everything and just go? Has anyone out there done that? Or lived in Barcelona?

Sarah Von Bargen


You're not too old! And the older you get, the harder it gets. At the risk of sounding cheesy, you're never going to be younger than you are right now 😉


i am a greek living in norway for the last 11 years. thats my home now. i ma pleased with my life. it was love that brought me here …. but every time i am back to greece, especially now witha ll the problems greece is facing , my heart bleeds. its the only way i can discribe it.


I'm originally from Cali, and I lived abroad in Kingston- just outside of London for 6 months. That was 11 years ago, I was 19. I was terrified the first night I arrived and by the second day I never wanted to leave. I cried and did ruin 1 or 2 'goodbye' nights out :). Ever since I've wanted nothing to get back. I now live in Boston, have been here 10 years and am getting ready to apply to grad school, mostly of which are in the UK. Living abroad changed my life in such a good and amazing way! And to Lape's comment above. YOU ARE NOT TOO OLD! I'm almost to 32, if I go back by the time I get there I'll be 33. You're never too old, now is the perfect time in fact. With some wisdom and experience you'll appreciate it more than you know. My thought: everyone should live abroad – it's an experience no matter what, and isn't that what life is about?


I am currently living abroad in South Korea and moving back to New Zealand in two months (originally I'm from Illinois). I've decided that living abroad is what I want to do the rest of my life. NZ is the best corner I've found.

Going back home after living or traveling abroad is one of the hardest things I do. My family is scattered over the states now and my parents live in a new town so I really feel like I don't have any roots in the U.S. anymore. I did figure out that I just get to put down my own roots and make a home that way. I love my family, but those 12-16 hour flights are killer.

With my new move to NZ coming up, I think it's about time my family gets on a plane and comes to see me for once!


I've lived abroad for over half of my life now, mostly in China but also in Thailand and Korea. Going home is exciting to see family, but its been so long that I've lost touch with most of my friends. Now my friends are scattered around the globe.
Coming back to Canada to live for the first time in years was the strangest sensation though, I felt like a complete foreigner. So on the matter of where home is for me, I have several, and the use of the word in any refrence to any place causes an outcry from all the other places. Home is wherever you make it, and its always hard to leave.


I have never lived abroad but I often dream of it. Since I was a freshman in high school I've had this strong urge to move to Britain (Scotland OR England). I have no idea what it is that draws me there.

I admire you so much for picking up and going where your heart takes you!


@ Lape

I lived in Barcelona for six months and studied at the university. It was amazing. I am still in love with the city and try to get back at least once a year. There is literally something for everyone and each time I go back, I discover something new. You are never too old. Look for some jobs there! I considered teaching English there at one point but was offered a job in Germany instead and am now living there, which is also great!


I spent three months living in Costa Rica and backpacking through Central America. It was the best time of my life, and completely heart-wrenching to leave. Every time I had to say goodbye to someone along the way, I cried, tried to absorb as much of them as I could – their accent, smell, body language, along with the scenery. Sometimes at night when I can't sleep I'll picture my little house that I lived in and try to remember all of it's funny details – lizards climbing on the ceiling, the gap of space between walls and roof, the ruffly doilies my family loved to put on everything. It's hard to think about those memories fading.

A new adventure in living abroad is coming up soon, though. I'm headed to Madrid in August to live and study for sixth months and I couldn't be more excited!

And @ Lape: It's never to late! One of my best friend's mom is in her 50s. She has been a school teacher forever and has always dreamed of teaching abroad. Last year she quit her job and moved to Malaysia where she's been teaching young children for almost a year, and has decided that she loves it so much that she's going to stay for two more years!If she's twenty years older than you and can do it, you can do it too.

A Serenade for Solitude

I love reading about your adventures.

I've never gone abroad. I was supposed to go to Europe my senior year of college with a boyfriend but that fell through, and he fell through, too. Thankfully, because now, when I do visit Ireland and the other places I hope to travel one day, it'll be a first that I can share with my Husband.

Happy Adventuring! xx, Cassie


Technically I never lived abroad, but I did live on a ship for a few months. When the voyage came to an end saying good bye to my friends was one the hardest thing I have ever done. We went through so much together and experienced things that most of my friends at home couldn't even imagine. But I would do it again in a heart beat.

@lupe: Being too old to do something is the biggest myth out there. I'm 29, have a 2 year old, 2 cats, and a boyfriend. Recently I did a huge career change go from a well paying job with benefits to something I barely make money off of but love. I also plan to do some extensive traveling in a few years (when my daughter is old enough to safely take the meds and shots needed for the countries that we are going to visit). This trip will mean dropping everything. Yes, it a scary idea, but I don't want to look back on my life and say "what if." On top of that I want to teach my daughter to go after what she wants in life.


the cable car whispers goodbye at you! come back soon, people like you + working in a store that sells some new zealand-y things make me really appreciate my country 🙂


After living abroad for 2 years going home was terrifying. I didn't fit there anymore because everyone had carried on with their lives. And I had chosen not to be the girl I was before and some friends had a hard time adjusting to that. Going back to my Away Home this year was strange. Everytime I had returned before it was with longing and nostalgia. I wanted to be there again with the same people and having the same experiences. This time it was just a lovely place that I once loved. There wasn't so much emotional tied to it probably because I'm happy where I am now. I was able to walk away appreciating what was and what is now. And being comfortable with the difference. I'm going to be leaving home again soon. I hope it's not as hard when/if I come back


I studied abroad last summer for six weeks and leaving was one of the most bittersweet experiences of my life.

As much as I like to be independent, I'm very much a hometown girl and I missed my family. My return also coincided with the Fourth of July (one of my favorite holidays) which helped ease the pain, but the pain was still there.

I had made some of the best friends I've ever had while abroad and fallen in love with a city and a boy. Saying goodbye to Spain meant saying goodbye to the relationships I'd made while there. I had to accept that everything comes to an end and that's ok, things aren't meant to last forever.

I hope to go back someday, I know I will, but I know it won't be the same because the people I shared the experience with won't be there.


I strongly dislike, I won't use the word hate, the fact that I'm going home. I've been in Japan doing study abroad for the past four months, and found that my like for the culture, people, and food especially, has grown into something along the lines of love. I've already started applying for jobs here and in Korea, but I know that I will never have the same "bright eyed" experience of a young girl, traveling to a new country for the first time. I will miss my virgin awe, I will miss random, hilarious travel incidents, and I will even miss the homesickness I've felt throughout this journey….


30 is definitely not too late! I lived in the same town for 30 years and thought I"d die when I left. Now I've spent 10 years in Asia and 4 in New Zealand and I am petrified at the fact that next month we're returning to the UK to live.
I feel like that's going to be the hardest transition of all – for all the reasons people have given above.
I feel I definitely didn't really become myself until I was away from all those (lovely) friends I'd known since I was 6 years old, and now I know I'll have to really work to make sure I don't slide back into the same old "me" they will expect to have back in their midst.
I wouldn't have missed the life in other countries for anything.


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