So it's day 24 back in New Zealand, which is pretty crazy when I think about it. While it's so nice being back with my Tucker family again, I also have a whole other lot of emotions that I am dealing with!
I guess I have to tell you all how my trip back went! Before I even started the trip I had to stress about packing my bags! This was a BIG drama. I had to sad good bye to a few items and stop myself from buying anything else before I left! I had 34kg in my suitcase and could only take 30kg! I also had my handbag full of books - weighing a wopping 6kg -and a backpack instead of a small suitcase that had a good 6kg in it. I had my fingers crossed hoping that they would let me get away with a handbag that looked like I was trying to pack my whole bookshelf into.
The massive haul of a trip started on Wednesday the 25th when I had to say good bye to my awesome host family and all my Spain friends. As a parting gift to my family I gave them a clock adjusted to New Zealand time and wrote a letter to them on the clock face. Their parting gift to me was a bracelet (which I'm sure my host mum would have picked out) and a spanish fan with little things written about me on it. It was very sweet and I did cry a wee bit. I knew I was going to miss my host mum, and I do.
My host family dropped me off at the train station where I met with all the other AFS students to travel to Madrid. This journey was a solid 9 hours long but I was lucky to be one of the only ones who got given a bed instead of a seat (they obviously listened to all my panicking about being exhausted before I even started my long journey home to NZ!) Despite the fact that I was given a bed 2 hours into the trip, I still didn't get much sleep (maybe 3 hours) and was very tired when I hopped off the train. After that we got taken on a bus to a university residence which was actually really nice, we all had our own bedroom and bathroom each, I thought that we would be sharing a room with quite a few people, which I was not looking forward to. When we got there we got to settle in for a while before we headed off to explore Madrid. I'm not going to lie, nobody was very keen on this idea... I mean it was nice getting to see a bit of Madrid but we were all so tired and just wanted to eat and relax.
That night we met with all the other exchange students who had done an exchange in Spain but that were from all the other areas outside of Cataluyna. It was pretty cool meeting with them again! I love hearing everyone's accents and learning about their countries and experiences.
I stayed up as long as I could that night because I knew I would probably have to say goodbye to the majority of these awesome people and would never get to see them again! That's one of the best and worst parts of a student exchange - you meet so many amazing people and leave your heart in so many different places.
There were 5 groups of departures leaving for the airport at different times the next day and I got up to say goodbye to the closest of my friends. I was the only one with a late night flight and so I had to leave with the 2pm group even though my flight was at around 10pm. That completely sucked. I had to wait in the airport for about 8 hours which made my journey seem so much longer than it should have been. I had to say goodbye to Katy one of my best friends at the airport which was pretty hard. I'm glad to say that she and Zanete will be coming to visit me in New Zealand in 2 years :)
Luckily I checked in all my bags without problems after I rearranged my things so that my suitcase was not overweight. I had so many emotions as I finally entered the departure gate, I couldn't believe I had lived my dream and it was then coming to end. I just can't explain that feeling.
I'm glad to say that my trip back from Spain was better than the trip to Spain, even though I didn't have Hugo the other New Zealander travelling back with me. From Madrid to Dubai I was sat to a mum and her son who were nice enough and I got a wee bit of rest on that flight. The best thing was that from Dubai to Melbourne and then Melbourne to Auckland I was seated next to two girls my age who were really lovely. It was really interesting talking to them and they made for lovely company. I managed to watch 3 movies on the trip back and got a few hours sleep in. The trip went quicker and because I had bought flight socks, my feet did not swell up which was a relief!
Little did I know, there was a great surprise waiting for me in Auckland! As some of you may know my Mum and sister Katie had gone to America for 2 weeks and I was told that they would arrive back before me. They had no other choice!! But the thing that I did not know was that they had arrived back in Auckland the same day as me and that they would be waiting for me there!! When I walked out with my suitcases and everything the first thing I saw was my sister Bex, her boyfriend and my sister Katie holding up a big welcome banner! You can imagine the smile that broke out on my face! Then suddenly from the side, came running a beautiful woman, crying... you can guess who that was! My mum! As soon as I saw her I burst out crying and I was just the happiest girl ever. I had been thinking about that moment for so long and it was amazing.
After the tears and hugs, smiles and more hugs, we got a bite to eat and chatted for a while. It was so strange to just be hearing english all around me again. Of course I had to demonstrate my spanish skills though.
The flight to Christchurch went fast and I was so grateful to be sitting with my mum and my bestest friend. Funny story. My mum had actually planned this whole thing ageees ago and had just never let on, I had no idea, and so when I discovered that my flight seat was in between two strangers (or so I thought) I moved my seat and placed myself next to a window a couple of seats back! My Mum was horrified to find out that I had soiled her carefully planned plan! hahaha Luckily after pleading with the airline, she got it sorted, and I was put back with them again. Good one Victoria!
My Dad and my brothers were waiting for me at the Christchurch airport and I nearly had a heart attack! My Dad was just the same as always but my brothers... they were HUGE. To me, it looked like they had been on steroids! I was so shocked at how big they had gotten and their voices had dropped. So scary. When I left they were a good head shorter and I still thought of them as my little brothers, now they're like wee men. Kaitlyn did try to warn me. It was a nice trip back to Timaru, just sitting there, soaking in my family. It was so nice just hearing their voices again, laughing with them. I missed them a bunch.
Now I have been back a good 3 weeks. Everything was strange at first. Nothing had changed really, Timaru is just the same small town I left. But I still feel weird. It's as if I suddenly don't belong anymore. I know that I now have wanderlust, but it's more than that. The way I see people, the town and everything around me is different now. It's better, unexplainable. I may seem the same to the people around me, or they may notice that something is different, but I can guarantee that they won't be able to quite put their finger on what it is. That's the thing about an experience like the one I have lived, it's so life-changing, in so many ways, but I don't even understand it fully myself.
I have caught up with a few friends since I've gotten back and have repeated myself over and over, telling stories about my exchange. I miss all my friends back in Spain and my AFS student friends who are all over the world, but I am happy to have some good old kiwi company again. That's something I am really grateful for, my friends, no matter where they may be. :) I love them all!
One of the first things I did when I got back was meet my niece, Lilly! She is absolutely beautiful and I was so happy to finally hold her in my arms! I have been so lucky, being able to go and visit my sister, spending time with her and Lilly. I know my sister loves having me around to help and to chat with.
At the moment I am having a kind of break whilst doing lots of little bits and pieces that need to be done, so I have time to visit them. I am currently searching for full time work, I need to save money for university next year, and I am also working on some final NCEA 3 assessments that will allow me to complete my certificate. It's nice having spare time and being able to organise my days how I like, but I know that I need to start working as soon as possible.
I can say that I am overall happy to be back, though it will still take some time to really settle back in. It's been so nice seeing everyone again and to find that my relationships within my family are stronger now. I appreciate them all so much now and I think it goes both ways ;)
Thanks to everyone who has followed me along my journey of a lifetime and supported me, I hope you have enjoyed reading all about it.
Love from Victoria,
the spanish girl ;)