LatestReflections on 147 days in New Zealand

Reflections on 147 days in New Zealand

Tom OBrien
Tom OBrien
Tom O'Brien is an American abroad! He's having a great time getting to know New Zealand while he studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin.

Wow. That was the best. Plain and simple, the best decision I have ever made was to study abroad in New Zealand!

Final thoughts from Auckland…

I am currently in Auckland soaking up the past 147 days and it is hard to describe my emotions at the moment. Sad, happy, fulfilled, excited, and proud.


I am sad of course to be leaving this wonderful place, but I am happy to be going back to see everyone at home. And I feel fulfilled because there was not an off moment while I was down here.

Every second of every day I had a smile on my face due to this country and everyone in it with me.

I am excited to go home and tell everyone in person how much my life has changed from this once in a lifetime experience. And most of all, I am proud to have had this opportunity.

Hard work and motivation got me to this point in my life. I am proud to have made such good friends down here. Proud that I have an amazing family to support me coming down here for so long and help me out with everything along the way.

I have been spending most of my time on the pier overlooking the beautiful, aqua ocean right on the edge of the city. Just laying on this bench listening to the waves crash against the sea wall and the boats going by is so relaxing and it is a great place to reflect on my life.


I know people are going to ask what my favourite part of this experience was and my answer has to be, well, the whole thing.

I would not change a single thing I did. But if there was one thing I had to choose, it would have to be sleeping in the caves at Long Beach with all of my favourite people.

There is just something about listening to the waves while looking at the entire Milky Way around a bonfire with all of your friends. Nothing beats this feeling and I think what makes it so special is that you can’t really do that anywhere in the USA. You would probably get in trouble for trespassing or something, but in New Zealand, it is encouraged.


I have learned a lot about myself during this journey.

I have always been a pretty laid back person, but living here for five months has made me even more relaxed. The little things that I used to be annoyed with no longer affect me. Also, meeting all kinds of people has opened my eyes to how different everyone actually is, but you always have something in common with everyone.

My advice is that if someone seems weird to you, take a step back and ask yourself why they are like that. Then accept it and say to yourself that it is good for them for being true to themselves. I became great friends with people I probably would have never become acquainted with back in the States. I am thankful for this and I will bring this mentality back to America.


New Zealand, you have become my second home and you will always have a special place in my heart.

I am truly thankful for everything I have been through and I will never forget anything that has happened in these glorious 147 days.

As I wrote in my first blog post, I wanted New Zealand to be my Utopia and had the expectations that it would be life-changing. I can honestly say, it was certainly my Utopia and it exceeded every single one of my expectations in every way. Thank you, everyone who has helped make my dream come true!!

And now I’m back in America…

After 147 days of being away from my home, I have to say, it is good to be back. I spent the perfect amount of time in the wonderful land of New Zealand and met the most amazing people. The adventures I had on a daily basis are one I will always hold onto and treasure.


I was blessed with the opportunity of studying abroad and I feel I took full advantage of every single thing that came my way.

Yes, I might be poor at the moment, but that is why we work. I saved up my entire life for that trip and I did not hold back because I wanted to have no regrets when I came home. Honestly, I do not have one single regret coming out of this experience.

I am so happy that studying down at the University of Otago turned out the way it did.

This journey opened my eyes to the world and now I never want to stop travelling. I think it is very important to have such an open mind about everything and one way to learn this is by going to live in another country. I loved every moment down there and will always be thankful for the life-changing experience I had.