It seems only right then that I should take a moment to reflect on my time here, to share with you some of the things I've learnt and some of the things I'm going to miss when I return to the motherland.
I had always wanted to come to New Zealand, without ever really knowing why. I must have been about 12 when I told my best friend I was going to move there as soon as I was 18.
However, I didn't leave the UK until October 2009, just after my 21st birthday, when I embarked on a six month round-the-world trip. As a poetry major fresh out of university it was supposed to be a time for me to get a little taste of the 'real world' and decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. My itinerary included New Zealand but also stopped off in Canada, Australia, and China.
I spent the first month of my travels with some relatives in Ontario before boarding a plane to Auckland. I can honestly tell you that that before we had even touched the tarmac I felt like I was home. Two weeks later I had cancelled the rest of my flights.
The end of 2009 is a blur of new people and new places but 2010 was by far the most difficult and eye-opening year of my life.
I started off in Nelson with $2 in my pocket wondering how I was ever going to get out of a particularly nasty living situation. By the time September rolled around I had moved house eight times, lived in three different towns and said goodbye to the South Island. The only thing that had really kept me going was my drive to write.
But all was not lost. I saw out the year in a flat full of wonderful people, began working at Challenge Weekly Christian newspaper and settled into a little church full of other English folks.
It was only at that point when I could look back over the year, sift through the hard parts and fully begin to appreciate what people had done for me. I was literally clothed and fed by strangers; some of them even took me into their homes and families, and never asked for a single cent in return.
I have heard many other travellers give similar comments. New Zealand is known for its welcoming nature, its acceptance, and its generosity. This is something I shall miss very much.
For me 2011 was a very settled year. I got into the swing of my job, managed a visit back to the UK and only moved house once.
However 2012 brought its own hardships. Since the beginning of the year I have struggled with a still undiagnosed health issue. Without going into too much detail I can tell you that on a good day I can feel tired, drained, and a little shut down, and on bad day I've been known to curl up in a ball on the floor.
But no matter how bad things get I can always find hope in the knowledge that in my job and in my other forms of writing I still taking steps, however small, towards the plan that God ultimately has for my life.
I recently found a quote from William Wilberforce, which says, "Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you; and when your strength begins to fail, and your spirits are well nigh exhausted, let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigour the fainting energies of your soul".
I guess what I'm trying to say, although not very well, is that you just don't know what's around the corner. God can take you to the top of a mountain and the moment you think you're done he will ask you to jump. All you can do is keep on keeping on. Find what means the most to you and pursue it tirelessly, relentlessly, and without compromise. God can use any passion for his purpose as long as you are open to his leading. I've also learned that no matter where you are or how you feel, you haven't failed until you give up and let go of the dream completely.
So as I pack my bags and prepare to say goodbye to the people that have made the past three years some of the best yet, I know that this isn't the end, it's only the beginning.
(Press Service International has requested Gemma remain as a young writer from Britain. PSI has a number of Australian young writers who are now living overseas).
Gemma Margerison is an aspiring author from the North of England. She currently works as the chief reporter for Challenge Weekly Christian newspaper in Auckland, New Zealand.
Gemma Margerison's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-margerison.html