Leonie’s amazing adventure around NZ!
Written by Leonie Cornehlsen, 20, from Germany.
Arriving in New Zealand at Yep!IS in January 2019, Leonie spent 7 months working and travelling around NZ. In this post Leonie talks about the ups and the downs of NZ. Touching base on homesickness and listening to your heart!
Everyone has their own reason to travel, everyone has their own stories to tell and if you never question why, you will never know. After all, isn´t that the only thing that matters? Your life turns into a unique adventure, casual moments become unforgettable memories and strangers become friends.
New Zealand – The first question everyone I met asked me is “Why NZ?”, of course they do. It is probably the most important one. No, not the most important, but surely the most interesting one. Now you ask yourself the same question, don´t you?
My answer to this question is always the same. I don´t know. For sure, I could tell you and everyone else, that the unique flora and fauna the crucial reason is, to experience NZ once in a lifetime. Or to keep it simple, it´s just because here are less, with less I mean no dangerous animals like in Australia. You want to go as far away as possible from home? Another good reason. To make it clear, there are countless good reasons to choose NZ. Nevertheless, I am not able to explain why I by myself chose NZ. It was intuition, a gut feeling. I knew it years before I decided to come over here and let me tell you one thing, I never ever regretted that decision!
I started my trip in January with a bucket list in my bag and high expectations in my head. Did I make a plan before I came here? Of course, I did, I was too afraid to travel aimless to the other side of the world. Did my plans somehow change after I arrived in NZ? Absolutely! “Life is what happens when you´re making plans” I never related to this more, than I do now. Anyhow, you should at least know for yourself, what are you interested in? What do you, personally, want to experience in NZ? Try not to put yourself under pressure with the unrealistic idea to see EVERYTHING. This is not going to happen. Talk to people who have been here before, read blogs, watch videos, whatever, as long as you have a final list of things you want to experience no matter what. I mean, that helped me lot, in the end do whatever you want to and what you feel like! “Listen to your heart”
During your journey you will come to a point, where you ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” It doesn´t even matter how long your trip will be, that moment is a promise and an opportunity! Your opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and that is the whole point behind travelling. Escape the cage you build yourself and feel free. You will discover things about yourself, you never thought you would be capable of. “Face your Fears”
I once met a girl with a tattoo. Doesn´t sound that special right? “hynaj” What does that even mean? First, I thought it´s from a foreign language. Plot twist, it´s not. It´s simple with a wise message. “Hold Your Nose and Jump” A dependence to “just do it” so just get out of your comfort zone and do it, not for the others, for yourself. Jump into the cold water, make new experience, go for an adventure, but don´t forget to protect yourself after all. Don´t be mindless, if you have a bad feeling about something, than don´t do it. There is a difference between fear and a bad gut feeling.
For example, I was totally afraid of a bungee jump, but I faced my fears and it was amazing. The feeling after you did something, you were so afraid of, is indescribable. That moment, just before I jumped off the edge, a part of my brain asked me “WHY are you doing this, it´s unnatural to jump?! You don´t have to do this. Just turn around!” I ignored this part and listened to the other voice, which said “Jump, you will be fine and happy that you did it! An experience like this is amazing” And it was amazing! To get out of your comfort zone makes you feel unbeatable for smaller things in life.
That was just fear, not a bad gut feeling. Fear is only in our heads, the things we are afraid of don´t even exist. A bad gut feeling, on the other hand, could be live saving. If you want to go hitch hiking, couch surfing or anything else where you have to rely on strangers, listen to your gut. DON`T get in that car if you are not feeling safe. It´s not worth it. Always make sure that at least one person knows where you are. Send the registration number of the car, you´re going to hop in, to a friend, text the address from the place you stay to somebody. As always it´s about the small things in life.
Being away from home is already the first step out of your comfort zone. Try to appreciate this in times you just want to quit and go back home. Whenever you feel lonely and homesick just remind yourself how awesome it is to be here! It´s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity, don´t waste it with overthinking and constantly sadness. Especially hostels are full of travelers with the same worries and fears as you have. Talk to them. Another step out of your comfort zone. The first time it might be awkward to randomly talk to strangers, but just keep talking and you will see, afterwards they are no strangers anymore, just friends with the same problems. It´s an unbelievable miracle how fast you will find friends, maybe friends who feel like family after a while. You are not alone! And if you don´t know how to start a conversation, don´t worry! Just ask them, why they are in NZ. That´ll work, promise.
Before I came to NZ, I never thought about being an Au Pair. It was just not my thing to live with a family and kids. However, life goes, my time as an Au Pair ended up being the best experience I could have had. That was literally the hardest part for me and the biggest challenge to look after some kids, to have so much responsibility, but it was worth it! I never believed, that I could handle this, but I proofed myself the opposite and I am more than proud! So challenge yourself! Take every opportunity you can get; they could end up as the best thing that ever happen to you (so far).
There are a dozen ways to travel though NZ. I decided to do a Stray Bus Tour, completely spontaneous for at least 3 weeks. I am glad, that I did it, I really don´t want to miss these memories. I traveled through the North Island by myself, rented a car or with Intercity Bus and the whole South Island with Stray. You just hop on a bus and suddenly you have new friends. Yes, it’s actually that simple. Because of group meals and of course the fact that you are sitting in a bus together, it is pretty easy to become a part of the group. Even if you don´t know anyone before you
hop on, don´t isolate yourself, just spend time with them. Being in the stray bus kind of reminded me of my class trips in High School. Everyone was so excited and happy. Sitting around the fireplace, playing games, go out for an adventure or just some drinks (or both), all those things are unforgettable memories with strangers who became friends.
Now I am sitting here, writing a blog, thinking about all the things I`ve done and wish this time will never end! I completely fell in love with NZ and I know for sure, one day I´ll be back. Travelling is about to find yourself or to discover a new version of yourself. I always thought it was a cliché, but it´s the truth. Suddenly you realize what is important to you, what do you want/need and for sure you appreciate the things you already have. Being away from your usual neighborhood makes you think and feel different about once unsolvable problems. Small things you worried about at home suddenly seem to be unnecessary in compare to what you are going through on the other side of the world. Time goes by faster than you can imagine, life is short so enjoy every single moment! Nothing lasts forever, except memories. Go out and create some!