The end of semester break has just been and gone and over the time that I was back at home in the rural Taranaki, I came to a few realisations. After moving from England in 2012, I went to a very small, all-girls school in a rural town called Stratford in Taranaki. It was very ‘family based,’ where everyone knew everyone on a first name basis and year group sizes were that of one single class at any other school in the region. As much as I loved my school and New Plymouth, by the end of five years, I couldn’t help but feel that I had exhausted all the sources of entertainment that there were. Honestly, I felt that I had outgrown home.

Upon moving to Auckland, I was constantly buzzing for the first few weeks, everything was so new and exciting; there was so much to do, so much to see and so much culture. As I began to settle in I explored more and it was near impossible to find myself bored. This is still true and I am constantly exploring. As we know, Auckland is a big city, and to a person that isn’t familiar with city-like atmospheres can come across as a little overwhelming. I personally have lived in both very urban and very rural areas before moving to Auckland, but last semester really allowed me to appreciate the atmosphere and merits of both.

Once exams had been and gone, I was exhausted and honestly, I wanted nothing more than to spend some time with my old friends and family. New Plymouth hadn’t changed at all but for two weeks I leisured, relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful views, beaches and the familiarity of home. Going back for a while felt like a warm hug, and having spent an extended time away, I discovered a new-found appreciation for the tranquillity and community orientation. Though New Plymouth seems at face value like it has less interesting than bigger cities, the many open beaches and unparalleled views of the mountain seemed suddenly even more beautiful.

I came back to Auckland this week feeling relaxed and excited for the upcoming semester and on top of this, my best friend from my high school came up to Auckland from Christchurch to visit. It was a beautiful, clear-skied day and we went out for a walk down Queen Street; the smells of the many bakeries and other food shops making us both smile. My friend, who had hardly visited Auckland and isn’t a fan of big cities said, “Auckland has more going for it than I had previously thought, there are certainly parts that really are beautiful.” We continued to walk, and I had a real look at the buildings around me, new and old some of which were so intricately designed. In such a huge city it is often easy to bypass small details, but I realised that that’s the beauty in it. There is always something new to see, even in a place that you think you know well.

After saying goodbye to my friend at the SkyBus stop, I walked past Nando’s (of all places!), stopped for a moment to peel an orange, and sat next to a small water feature that looks onto Aotea Square. Currently there is a temporary ice rink set up and as I looked over at the small crowd of skaters, in the background a Taylor Swift song was playing from a nearby shop and walking past me in a constant stream, were groups of friends with huge smiles on their faces, some holding shopping bags, some just having a chat. And as the July sun shone on my face, I suddenly realised that I had made the right decision to move to Auckland for university.

Have a lovely week!