Maddy moved to Boston in the US in May 2019 to work as an au pair.
She had planned to be in the US for two years but cut her trip short and returned in January this year when she didn’t see the COVID-19 situation improving.
“Getting flights and worrying about MIQ vouchers was playing on my mind. I was lucky to return when I did.”
The 25 year-old says it’s been a bit of an adjustment returning to New Zealand.
After spending two weeks in quarantine at an isolation hotel in Hamilton, she was released at 7am – something that Maddy found odd, but ‘freeing’.
“I’m not from Hamilton, so being just me with my two giant suitcases in the city centre was quite surreal – it was also really strange just seeing people get on with their daily lives like COVID-19 didn’t exist.”
“The big moment for me was just after being picked up in Christchurch. We went to a café and I reached for my mask – but then I realised I didn’t need one and we went inside and everyone was just living normally – very different to where I’d just come from.”
Maddy says it has been hard adjusting to a life out of lockdown like that she lived in the US.
“Leaving friends behind has also been tough, especially when lots were also International visitors like me, but unlike me, they didn’t have a ‘safe’ country to return to.”
“I’d built a network of friends through the Au Pier agency, and made a strong bond with my family – hopefully one day, when COVID-19 is over, we can all reconnect again.”
Maddy says this isn’t how she saw her 2020/2021 panning out – but she’s learnt a lot more about herself, her resilience and what’s really important in life.
“My plans have been disrupted. I had to come home and now I’m looking for a job, living with my parents, while all my friends here are getting on with life. It’s just so different to where I’ve come from - where people are putting life on hold. I’m so thankful to be able to call this oasis home.”
“The whole experience has taught me to enjoy the small moments more.”