I could not be more thankful for all of the absolutely amazing experiences, people, and knowledge I have soaked up the last couple of months. I am greatly going to miss the country of New Zealand, the amazing vistas, the accents, the weekly tramping outings and all of my great friends who are now spread across the world like marbles in the middle of a Chinese checkers game. (If any of you ever want to go tramping anywhere in the U.S. let me know and I will find a way to join you!)

However, I am also thankful for traveling back to my home. There is nothing else in the world that can quite fill that space in my heart.

I have only been home for a couple of hours, but I already have a growing list of all the things I am grateful for after being away for so long.

Studying abroad did not only open my eyes to new cultures, experiences, and thoughts of the world, but it reopened my eyes to enjoy the little things I would normally take for granted without even thinking about it.

Returning home, I’m grateful for:

  • Family dinners. Getting to hug my family and talk to them in person.
  • My dog. Getting to see the smile on his face, pet his fur, and take him on walks


  • Lightening bugs. Just sitting outside my backyard and watching hundreds of them put on a little firework show. It is a magnificent sight that I would normally take for granted and hardly even realize they are there
  • The smells of summer. Yes, summer does have a smell, but most people don’t get to smell the sweetness of it. This is because there is a slow change from spring to summer, so most people’s noses don’t pick up on the new smells because they come slowly and allow one’s nose to become use the smells. However, since I came straight from winter, the smells hit me like a train.
  • Humidity and Heat. Yea, normally I would probably think the humidity is annoying, but it feels absolutely wonderful after coming from months and months and even more months of winter
  • Birds singing in the morning. I heard birds every now and then in New Zealand, but they were mostly seagulls which do not sing, they squawk. The singing was music to my ears.
  • Chicago style pizza. Lots of cheese and lots of sauce. The way pizza should be made
  • The rainbow of colors from the flowers my mom planted in the yard


  • The smell of a pool
  • Warm weather. Oh how wonderful it is not have to wear four layers of clothing, plus a winter coat, and hat to stay warm in my house
  • Summer rainstorms. They come and go quickly and the rain is warm unlike the rainstorms in New Zealand which literally last for days without stopping and the rain is ice cold because it comes from the South Pole
  • Bullfrogs singing at night and the crickets gently chirping outside of my bedroom window
  • The hominess of my house and the bright green grass filling my back and front yards
  • Pedestrians having the right of way when crossing streets. Instead of cars flying down the street to try and hit me, they actually stopped and waved me on to cross. Oh, how polite!
  • All of the extra sunlight! The sun rises about two hours earlier in the morning and it is past 9pm at night and it still has not set! My amount of daylight I get per day just about doubled