I had been timid before I came to Auckland from an island country, Japan. Living girdled by the sea and in a racially homogeneous nation, I had been content with the status quo for ages. On the other hand, I had been longing to go overseas since I went crazy for the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan when I was a teen. They brought me something vibrant the unknown culture of foreign countries has, and English simultaneously. Although I hadn’t given up the idea of going overseas and studying English, I had been involved in business for almost 30 years, before I became aware of it. Meanwhile, I had said good-bye to a companion, and the business had gone wrong, so I decided to close the shop. Wasn’t it a simple twist of fate that suddenly I started feeling carefree somehow? I thought, “It’s time to realise my dream.”

There are a couple of hundred students studying English in Languages International, and a couple of thousand in Auckland. Some of us are from European countries, and some of us are from Asian ones. A few of us are from Russia and South America. Most of us are in our twenties, and only a few of us are teens and middle-aged. With the aim of becoming a good speaker of English, we’ve come a long way from home, but our motivations are diverse. He needs a certificate to go to university, and she wants to get a skill for her job. You’ve got a stopover in the beautiful country on the way of your travels, haven’t you? – and I’m coming here to fulfill my long cherished dream, though I’m 55 years old.

For myself, being a stranger is quite comfortable, though in fact it’s only natural since Auckland is a cosmopolitan city, so everyone seems to be a stranger. Here, it’s more significant to talk about the future than ask about the past. We become more enthusiastic about our own desires than envious toward others. In school, there are three generations studying English, but I haven’t felt a gap among them. “Hey Ireen! How was your weekend?” “Hi, Hiroshi! It was nice! And you?” I’m one year older than her grandfather, actually. I hope she did’t call me grandpa behind my back. In fact, my best friend here is 28 years old, though he has already gone back home to Korea. We promised to meet again sometime, but we don’t know when. Who knows?, but I’ll keep bubbling with anticipation to meet him again.

Auckland is not only a cosmopolitan city, but it seems like a wonderland, even looks exotic. There are many majestic old buildings and houses, which conjure up Great Britain’s huge power in the 19th century, as if they wanted to build a utopia in the beautiful Antipodes. In the utopia, there mustn’t be a heavy industry. You can only import its product, setting aside environmental issues. The blue sea dotted with white sails, brilliant towns spread on an uneaven landform, beautiful parks with evergreen grasses, lovely white-painted houses which lie in a vally, and laid-back Kiwi people, all of them are surreal for me, and have made me more carefree.

Now my nine-month holiday will have finished in a week’s time. It’s time to go back to where I once belonged. What I’ve got through this time aren’t so many but solid. A great explorer has hardly achieved his adventure when he resolves to do the next one. I’ll keep on studying, and keep on pushing. This is all I’ve got through this holiday, and thanks Auckland and dear friends. You’ve made me feel brand new.

Text by Hiroshi, a student at Languages International
Photo by Br3nda