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“It’s Scary, But You’re Gonna Love It!”

By Siddhi Sharma

Have you ever had to travel miles across the world just to pursue your dream? No one spoke a word to me about ‘realities’ before I moved out, but now that I’m in university, ‘scary’ is the only word I can use. I kept telling myself, “This is going to be easy” and, “You’ll manage,” but boy was I wrong! Coming from a traditional town in India, I was raised in a patriarchal and conservative society. People there thrive on collectivism rather than independence. Since I was schooled in a Western curriculum, I wanted to learn to be selfsufficient, away from societal pressures.

I was so eager to get out of India that I even had a list of things I wanted to do and accomplish in New Zealand. I chose AUT because I knew I would be at the heart of the best opportunities (and because NZ is beautiful!). I think however, that my overzealous attitude clouded reality for me and I failed to accept that I didn’t know the first thing about becoming independent. In the first couple of months of university, I realised I was a clueless duckling and very spoilt! A part of me screamed, wanting to go back home. Another part of me wanted to see if I could get past the gut-wrenching homesickness.

It wasn’t long before I had to ‘pull the plug’ on my belief that everything would be at my disposal. I also learned that in order to get the wheels of success in motion, I’d need to step outside my comfort zone too. Life needed to become about using my voice and my body to protect and motivate myself. I had always dreaded needing to speak up for myself, but that was fear I was going to have to move past. I don’t mean to make the act of moving across the world to study sound daunting, but for me, the number of struggles I faced continued to increase. With every month, I encountered new challenges, particularly around my budget management skills.

When I lived at home with my family, I’d never given spending a second thought and I paid no heed to the value of money. But just halfway into my first year of university, I had already become someone who was thinking about saving even before stepping out of the house. Once I was well aware of my financial situation, I realised it was time for me to look for ways to earn some money. I knew I didn’t want to depend on the money being sent from home.

Looking back, I don’t feel like I have lost a part of myself or that I had to leave alot behind before coming to study in NZ. The journey has made me stronger and I now have a solid voice. With that voice, I’ve learned to stay vigilant and self-sufficient. Laundry, groceries, cooking, making friends, wanting to travel, volunteering and sending out a bunches of resumés – it is indeed a lot for one person. But taking things one day at a time will get me there.

I believe that making a major transition in life is not specifically about what gets lost and left behind, but that it’s about making use of our knowledge and abilities in a new environment. I am constantly learning something new every day and I think that in itself is amazing. I couldn’t be more thankful to my family, friends and people of my university who are so supportive. It’s a bumpy ride, but a wonderful one.


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