The Emotional Rollercoaster of Living (Not Traveling) Abroad

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.  You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


Source for all these photos: Liz

How am I feeling right now? How have I truly been feeling deep down for the approximate two months that I’ve been in NZ so far?

Please refer to the quote above.

I’m coming to the realization that nothing can be forced in life. This sounds incredibly stupid and point-blank to say, but it’s true.

For starters: (1) I couldn’t let go (still can’t!) of worrying about my career. It took me a month to find something decent. And for every positive affirmation, every shove that I gave myself to continue persevering, every extra 20 minutes invested… I somehow took two steps back (or so I thought). (2) When I finally did secure a job (an office job, which was what I was highly avoiding, but a job is a job!), I moped to myself about how I still haven’t made strong bonds with anyone. I forced myself to get out of the house and take walks on my own in hopes of being put in a better mood. I joined about 15 different Meetup groups.

Let’s delve further into item 2. I’m generally very outgoing and unafraid of admitting that I’m weird, quirky, geeky, and loud. I describe myself as a fearless adrenaline junkie. Plunk me in a foreign area, whether Santa Barbara or Wellington, and I clam up. I shriveled up like a snail getting salt sprinkled on her when I first landed in Auckland, after all.

It’s not like I haven’t tried to put myself out there and meet people in central Wellington, either. Don’t get me wrong, people are lovely. I just haven’t bonded with many people on a deeper basis. I looked into Couchsurfing events. I went to an intro ukulele lesson in which one of the girls in the class had my SAME purple ukulele with a dolphin design… it blew my mind that out of every ukulele in the world, she had that one. Yet, we didn’t really speak much, and while the crowd in that class was okay, I could tell that they’re weren’t my type of people (you just get a vibe).

I go through phases. I had a week where I did four Meetup events after work and was exhausted by Friday. I came straight home after work another week, never going anywhere afterward, and just taking naps (which generally turned into 2-hour sleep).


I know that this move is doing wonders for me in regards to courage and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. In the moment, it’s just really tough to come to terms with. I’m such a stubborn, organized person– when things don’t work out as I imagined, I can’t just let it go. My solution is to run it off, blast music, or start planning for something else.

For the time being, I’ve immersed myself in work. And while most will say, “What is wrong with you? Ditch the house, go backpack and stay in a hostel, stay out till 7am at the bars,” well, yeah, I get that perspective. But I’m not that type of person. I feel like a 28-year old trapped in a 23-year old’s body, since I think more like a grown professional than a typical 20something who just wants to get drunk at a bar or club. I had my phase of 21-fun, and I’m over it. It’s especially tough to live in a culture where you’re ridiculed consistently by locals if you don’t want to even have one sip of alcohol.

To make things even more confusing for my already anxiety-ridden self, I’ve also fallen victim to the perils of comparing my travels and adventures to others. I’m scatterbrained. I never have less than 10 tabs open on my internet browser. My past excitement over looking at other travel blogs has now turned to immense bouts of sadness.

What have I learned from this? This is my journey, not anyone else’s (although you’ve gotta admit, some of these travel blogs like this one and this are pretty darn inspiring). I’m my harshest critic on myself. I’ve never been blessed with great confidence or self-esteem, and I always compare myself to others.

Because of all these emotions running through me, writing is extremely therapeutic. Getting everything out is like the biggest accomplishment of the day for me. Hence this long, scatterbrained blog post.

Now, there isn’t a right or wrong way to travel. However, I realize the stark difference between traveling leisurely for pleasure (aka vacation) versus upping your life and moving to another country. Studying abroad can’t even be compared to this– it can be in some sense, but is also quite different. I’ve experienced just about every joyous and despondent emotion in the past months that I’ve been here, and I can bet that I still will have fluctuating emotions even as the months progress.

Amidst all this self-discovery, I feel like I fit more of the description of a retired homeowner versus a rugged solo traveler. Perhaps I’ll find the most enjoyment out of planning yearly vacations to various parts of the world rather than causing strain on my mind and heart. Or maybe I’m over-thinking this whole damn thing and my mentality will all change in 2014. Who knows…


(The majority of the weekdays, I look like this rather than an adventure traveler)

3 thoughts on “The Emotional Rollercoaster of Living (Not Traveling) Abroad

  1. As another blogger say, making friends is harder when you are an adult, especially when you are living in a diferrent country. You are right about living and studying abroad is different, studying you dont get confronted by having to make a living, facing the local culture head on, and people that grew up totally differently from you. The great thing of living abroad, is you actuallyget to see and not be a tourist. 😀


    1. You’re right in every sense about that! Playing tourist has its downfalls as well… I have found that the nicest people I’ve met down here are generally families or older professionals, though. Either that, or I just relate to all the older folk since I’m an old soul at heart 🙂


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