Big OE: See the world while you can

Last updated 05:00 16/11/2013

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How the big OE changed me

These days your OE is what you make it The traditional Kiwi OE is dying When's it time to go home from your OE? What a London OE means to me Kiwis' mana known overseas Big OE: on your own two feet Big OE: We gotta get out of this place Big OE: Bitten by the travel bug On an OE with a mission Big OE: I found a new home

I was 28 when I first had the opportunity to travel overseas. I picked a bus tour of the UK, first flying into Los Angeles on the way. What an amazing sight that was - swimming pools, mansions, derelict areas, all visible from a huge jet plane flying low into the airport. I arrived at Gatwick after a long flight across America; the view flying over Greenland was mesmerising, a huge white land of snow that I'd never seen before or even imagined.

London was pretty dreary weather-wise, much like I had expected, but the feeling I got when I arrived was so mind blowing. It's impossible to explain but it felt like home to me. My ancestry is mainly Scottish so maybe that's why I liked it so much.

The bus tour was four weeks around England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. I travelled with mainly Americans and Canadians and a few Australians - all lovely people, young and old. It was the most brilliant month - I saw the usual tourist sites like Tintagel, Stonehenge, the Ring Of Kerry (breathtaking), the Cliffs Of Moher (sadly mainly mist and fog when I was there!), Loch Ness, Liverpool, and of course so much more. I managed to have some extra time after to check out the museums and sights of London, all amazing in their own right.

I came back a changed person, with a bigger outlook on life, stripped of my narrow "All Blacks, jandals, Rotorua, hate-everything-Australian" way of thinking, so typical of a narrow minded New Zealander back then in 1991.

I've been back to the UK several times, most recently on my honeymoon in 2006. Still loved it there although the racial and social tensions were starting to show, along with the predictable terrorism we have to contend with these days.

I've never regretted travelling and I urge everyone, if you can afford it, to get out of the New Zealand "cringe" mentality and experience the world before someone blows it to pieces.

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