READER REPORT:

My big OE: Crazy about Canada

STACEY KALINNIKOVA
Last updated 05:00 15/05/2013
Alberta
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Trudging through the snow in Lethbridge, Alberta.

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Stuff Nation readers share why they went on a big OE, and how it changed their lives.

Like many of us, for me it was never a question of whether or not I would go on an OE, it was a question of when.

We spend our childhoods growing up on an isolated little island full of beauty and perfection, but it is just that - an isolated little island. 

New Zealand is not like Europe in that there are a bunch of countries crammed right next to each other. It is not like Southern Alberta in Canada (where I am living), in that someone can drive a few hours to cross the border and be in the United States of America. 

Being so far away from the rest of the world cultivates our desire to explore, and leaves us wondering what else there is out there. 

After I finished my university degree, I worked for a while and paid off some of my dreaded student loan, then in August 2012 I left Wellington for Southern Alberta. 

I was offered a job in my chosen profession and a two-year contract. I did not intend to leave so soon and had planned to pay off more of my student loan first, but I was hardly going to say no to any opportunity to see another part of the world. 

Southern Alberta was not my first choice at all, but the journey that is not yet over has taken me right to where I needed to be.

I have not even been here for a year, yet I have already learned an assortment of lessons.

Every time someone asks, I am proud to admit that I come from New Zealand, a nation of travellers.

As much as the OE is considered a rite of passage for many New Zealanders, the things we learn and the people we meet (including ourselves) abroad are brought back with us when we return home.

An OE, and life in general, will never be smooth sailing, and for me the desire to return to New Zealand ebbs and flows like the tide. 

I desperately miss my friends and family, the rolling green hills and sea breeze, and of course Pineapple Lumps. The longer I stay abroad however, the more my secondary home also becomes a part of who I am. 

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I have no idea when I will be returning home, but it is important to remember that it is there for me when I choose to. I know it will be a bittersweet event when I leave behind Alberta to step foot back in my homeland - but an OE doesn't last forever, or can it?


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