I have now been back in our beautiful Aotearoa for a few weeks and have finally been able to wrap my head around my thoughts to write this final reflection.
Coming back was not as much of a culture shock as I expected. It was almost as if I had never left. I was lucky enough that I was going down to the Waikato area straight after arriving in Aotearoa, so I was not as affected by how different I had become in Auckland.
After arriving at the Auckland International Airport, I was reminded of how lucky I have been to be able to make the most of this opportunity. I was overwhelmed with the desire not to lose what I had learned and was able to practice a little with some of my friends.
My main takeaways have been these:
- Experiences that challenge you change you no matter how little you notice them. I feel no different, but there are little things I notice that I did not do before, I am less daunted by the idea of learning different and more difficult subjects, and (as superficial as it is) I have taken to drinking tea out of a small teacup I purchased in JiuFen. The way I behave is more mindful of what I learnt and what I feel could be applied to Aotearoa. I have become less afraid to travel, and I know that I can handle myself, whether it is to seek help or deal with a situation on my own. I have also learned the value of having a community. I am lucky enough to be a part of many different communities, and all of them have made me realise that the more people you have backing you, the more likely you are to succeed.
- You can never truly learn about a culture without experiencing it. Something I noticed was how different Taiwan was from how I had imagined it to be, despite my extensive research when I was first offered this opportunity. There are little things that you might not know to look for, and I am looking forward to being able to offer some insight to those taking this opportunity in the future.
- Finally, you learn more than you realise. We had one of the meetings today to touch base after returning to Aotearoa, and someone brought up the point that despite us being there on a language-learning opportunity, we were quite successful in acting as ambassadors for New Zealand. Just getting to know people and making friends is a way to promote Kiwi Culture, which is part of what we were there to do. Straight afterwards, I had a conversation with one of my friends about how New Zealand lacks street food stalls and soon realised that I was more enthralled by Taiwan than I thought I had been.
I am so grateful for having had this opportunity. I have learnt so much, have made friends who I hope will come to visit me in Aotearoa, and have gained a passion for travel and learning that I never knew was so powerful. I am grateful to the 360 International team who have been extremely supportive and attentive despite the time difference, and to everyone who made the trip possible. This was an incomparable learning experience that started my motivation to aim for even more opportunities. I look forward to sharing my experiences in the future, but for now, I am signing off.
Thank you for reading and for sharing this experience with me.
Lots of love,