In less than a month, I will be on a plane from Indianapolis to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand, for a year on a working holiday visa.
The story of how I got here still amazes me. I had international travel plans before I took the job teaching, and two days after those plans crashed, I woke up and looked in the mirror, and the thought came seemingly from nowhere: What about New Zealand?
New Zealand was a country I had once been interested in visiting, but if I didn’t make it there, I would have been okay. So I said to my reflection, “Nah, that’s too crazy.” And I left it at that.
Two months later, a fellow ag communicator contacted me. The subject line of his email was, “Interested in New Zealand?”
He had just returned from a trip there and explained how much I would love it. He then connected me to a couple of farms on the South Island. I contacted the owners, and one of them had work. So the plan is to start out on a dairy farm as a calf rearer for about two months, and then go from there to sheep operations.
I didn’t realize how long I’ve been waiting for this until a few days ago when I bought some travel gear while my students were competing at the state livestock judging contest at Purdue. I asked myself if I was scared, and the answer was, “No, not at all. Just ready.”
It wasn’t an easy decision to leave. There were some good things going. I liked being home, the people I worked with were great, and the students really made their way into my heart. The day after I ordered my plane ticket to Auckland, the FFA officers and I met to work on an award application, and I about changed my mind about going. But it was, and is, the right decision. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for at least eight years, ever since I was a freshman at Purdue. I didn’t study abroad for a semester because I wanted to be in the band, and I have never regretted that decision. But I told myself I was going to travel internationally at some point in the future.
And the future is now.
So you’ll be reading some different stories soon featuring things like getting used to winter in June, driving on the left side of the road and an 18-hour time change. There’s a lot to take care of here before I leave, like selling my car so I can buy one in NZ and giving away some furniture. Buying travel insurance. Finding a new laptop with a good processing speed that will handle all my photographs and videos and fit inside my backpack (the one I’m writing on now is 17 inches and is starting to have issues). Purchasing a new camera that will capture the amazing Middle Earth/New Zealand scenery and moments.
So here’s to a new adventure, and the road that leads ever on.
The road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
~Bilbo Baggins, The Old Walking Song in Lord of the Rings