The semester I spent in New Zealand allowed me to experience a lot of firsts in my life. These firsts are usually my go-to stories when talking about my time abroad, probably because they are the most glamorous and fun to re-live. If I were to name a few they would be: the first time I climbed a mountain, the first time a saw a waterfall in person, the first time I tasted the mind-consuming deliciousness that is a meat pie. But my favorite one to slip in casually is that living in New Zealand was also the first time I owned a car. This usually surprises people and thus ellictes a shocked response, which I love responding with: I was the proud owner of a 1996 Subaru Legacy!
Well, to be fair, I wasn’t the sole owner. I purchased the car with four other people at $500 a piece and when all was said and done, I would not have traveled New Zealand any other way. Having our own car entitled us to ultimate traveling freedom as well as allowing us to fully appreciate the wonderfully scenic drives. Whenever we had a free weekend, we would pack up the Subaru, grab some snacks, and head out on whatever adventure we planned. To many people, five to nine hour road trips every weekend seems horrendous but to me, they are what created unforgettable memories and turned virtual strangers into my closest friends.
Furthermore, buying a car allotted me a sense of independence in way I would have never foreseen, as well. With the car came responsibilities such as registration, insurance, and parking permits, all of which sheperded me into a more adult-like life. On one particular night, I was driving with Olivia (another one of the five owners) when we got a flat tire. We pulled the car over, looked at each other, and were at a total loss of what to do. In that moment, I realized that every other time I had car trouble all I did was call my Dad and he would take care of it. But he was miles away! Sleeping on the other side of the world! Completely and utterly unhelpful! After a few more moments of being flabbergasted at our unlucky situation, I snapped out of it and started making moves. I told Olivia to start calling friends to come pick us up while I phoned different towing companies about repairing flat tires. Unfortunately, none of the towing companies were open so we left the car in a parking lot overnight and went back the next day with a friend who showed us the finer details of how to change a flat. So, what started as an unlucky accident turned into a learning experience that made me a more competent driver.
I will continue to be entertained by people’s expressions when I let it slip that I bought a car, but more so I will continue to be grateful for all the memories I created in that 1996 Subaru Legacy. Plus, I can now say I know how to drive on the left side of the road!