April 24, 2020
Issue 04 2020

Creatures of Change

Whether you’re moving flats or moving countries, it’s important to shake things up and step outside your comfort zone. 


Although we’re currently living in a period of uncertainty, this won’t last forever. Personally, I’m surviving my lockdown by planning a plethora of overseas trips I can go on once the pandemic is resolved.


Massey graduate Jason Woodroofe and Information Technologies student Tyron Landman are two young adults that took the opportunity to travel and step outside of their comfort zones (before we were all resigned to our couches and 10-hour-long Netflix binges).


After graduating in 2018, Jason was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime; he was offered a job working with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) in East Timor, a nation of Southeast Asia.


Jason leapt at the chance to work overseas as he believes, “it is super important to change up your environment – whether that is with a new job, a new flat, moving cities or even by moving to a new country!”


“When you put yourself in a new context, you’re forced to think about life and adapt to all the new things you’re experiencing,” he explained. “You end up learning a lot about yourself in the process!”


Jason found that while adjusting to life in East-Timor posed some challenges, there were a lot of similarities between life in East-Timor and in New Zealand.


“I was living in the capital city, Dili, which is pretty well-stocked, so that was pretty chill,” Jason said.


One challenge that Jason did have to overcome was learning East-Timor’s national language, Tetum. He also had to grapple with some pretty jarring cultural differences.


“Cultural differences really surprised me in the subtle ways that they would present themselves,” Jason recalled. 

“Timorese are very open about death compared to New Zealanders so after just a few minutes of talking to someone they’d be telling you about their lost loved ones.”


Jason continued, “There’s no equivalent to saying ‘I’m sorry to hear that’ like we have in New Zealand. So, I was often left feeling very useless when listening to these horrible stories.”


Jason also saw some incredible sights during his time overseas. One spectacle that he said he would never get used to was, “five people stacked on one scooter, boosting down the street!”  


Tyron also took up the opportunity to travel but took a different route. He took advantage of Massey’s student exchange program and is currently in his second semester of a year abroad. Tyron is studying at Vyrie University in Amsterdam.


“I’ve always wanted to travel Europe,” Tyron explained, “And the reason I chose to study I.T. was so I could move and work in different places.”


“At first, I didn’t realise that doing an exchange was an option, but after living on campus and meeting a lot of exchange students from overseas, I decided to look into it.”


Tyron said that travelling has also helped him to understand people a lot better and see things from very different points of view.


Like Jason, Tyron found a lot of differences between his new home and New Zealand. Some positive differences included being able to bike more due to Amsterdam’s landscape, and – of course – the legalisation of marijuana.


Tyron and Jason both encourage all young people to take whatever opportunities they can to change up their environment whether this is by travelling, moving into a new flat, or starting a new job.


“I think we generally grow up in some sort of box,” Tyron said. “By travelling and meeting new people you are forced to consider things in different ways.”


Jason also explained that it’s important to keep an open mind when travelling, because you can never be 100% certain of what’s going to happen.


“Don’t stress the small stuff,” he said. “There are bound to be a whole lot of things that really bug you or make your life difficult.”

“But at the end of the day, you’re the outsider in that new environment and it’s unrealistic to expect everything to work for you right away – so just roll with it.”


Jason said that you never know what you might see when travelling, and you should always be open to whatever crazy situations are presented to you.


“Like, have you ever seen someone transport their entire life, wife and kids on a scooter and smoke a dart at the same time?” Jason laughed, recalling his experiences in East-Timor. “That takes talent!”


Jason was encouraged to return to New Zealand for the current COVID-19 lockdown period. However, he hopes that he’ll be able to visit East-Timor again very soon.


Tyron is also currently on lockdown, staying in Amsterdam. Both Tyron and Jason believe that the current circumstances have in no way dampened their incredible time abroad.


With the ever-changing environment we’re living in currently, consider making plans to explore – after these current circumstances have cleared.


The world is an incredible place and we won’t be trapped in our “bubbles” forever.