And now for something completely different... a man with three buttocks. -- Monty Python
Information and log entries related to the 2010 UD Geology/Marine Science study abroad program
Thank you for everything guys!!!!
This has been a difficult blog to write, as our last it brings a sense of finality to the adventure. I have dreamed of and plotted and planned for a trip like this for more than 20 years and the end of it is bittersweet. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more. What more beautiful of a country could one hope to visit? What a more fantastic group of people? When I first saw the familiar constellation of Orion upside down, I think I realized how far from home I was, but to look up and see stars I had never seen before was incredible and standing outside of the Marae, I think I realized what I had ahead of me. I enjoyed the constant movement, though I have to say it was hard keeping to an itinerary. It was great fun to wake up in a new town with new sights to see every day, but it would have been wonderful to have spent more time in certain locations and some places it was hard to leave.
I had high aspirations for what I hope to accomplish during the course of this trip and I have been able to live up to many of these. I feel I truly got to understand the feel for the country just being out there and talking to many different people. The locals are so laid back and have an overwhelming pride in their culture and history and are willing to share with anyone who will ask. The ladies at the Marae were indescribably outgoing. They offered me coffee, put me to work in the kitchen and told me all about their land, their family and their plans for the future of the Marae. One of my favorite people in the country was a cashier at the Uni-Mart, who insisted I check out the Raggamuffin festival in Rotarua (sadly I didn't) and I'll never forget a conversation with a busdriver in Tauranga; he and I compared and contrasted schnitzel and a cheesesteak! And how could I forget Stu? I loved listening to his stories as we traveled on the coach; he truly gave me an appreciation of Kiwi humor and their zeal for living life.
I had hoped to apply myself to our studies at hand but I found, and not regrettable so, that there was so much to take in; the sights, the sounds and even smells, that oftentime I was more distracted than focused on schoolwork. It was part of what was so enchanting about the trip, I suppose. We would go to study a beach and you could be sidetracked by something as small as a shell stuck in a rock, or the fragrance of teatree in the air, or the sound of a tui that you just can't seem to locate…I found my interests to be more general than I had supposed them to be. Of course the geology was remarkable, but I found I was just as interested in the native flowers as the volcanoes and when we observed a beach, I spent more time watching critters than wave periods.
I feel like I had the most troubles with social issues. Maybe I put too much emphasis on my age when the age itself is not the problem; rather the problem lies more with my unfamiliarity with college culture. I felt like I fell into a generation gap (more like chasm) and suddenly I felt surprising old and out of place. Not a feeling I'm familiar with. I truly felt like I was just starting college as a freshman. I was very uncomfortable living in close quarters with strangers, not knowing the popular music, movies, slang, celebrities or just happenings on campus…even where everyone else were strangers to start, they all seemed to have some common ground to fall back on and I was clueless to it! The open-door policy and dining hall meals at the University even took a lot of getting used to. These were obstacles I knew I had ahead, but I had hoped to be able to cope better with them.
All in all it was one of the best five weeks of my life. I got to meet 27 of the most interesting students on UD's campus. I didn't have a chance to get to know everyone very well, but I tried to get to know a little about everyone and each and every person on our trip was a fascinating, dynamic, extraordinary individual with such unique hopes and dreams and plans for the future. I was privileged to be instructed by three of the most enthusiastic and engaging instructors who all went far beyond the call of duty to make our trip not just instructive but entertaining and memorable. As I continue to unpack I find that I have to remind myself of where I was last week. It seems almost surreal now, that I was so far away. Then I go to my computer and pore over a ridiculously large file of pictures. Pictures of blue seas, and black beaches and dolphins jumping strait out to the horizon and I close my eyes, smile and think, "Yeah, I was there and it was a beautiful thing!"
Visiting New Zealand was one of the best experiences of my life. Before and during the trip I wanted to see as much of the nation as I could and see active volcanics. White Island and the Tongariro Crossing were my two favorite trips of the program; I have never been so close to an active breathing volcano.
My biggest challenges both physically and emotionally was probably the seasickness I felt on every boat I went on. This is strange because never in my life have I had a problem on boats. This occurred slightly on the trip to White Island and the ferry ride between the North and South Island; however it was excruciating during a deep sea fishing trip and the whale watch. My only regret was getting so sick on that trip because I really wanted to enjoy the sea life.
I was pleasantly surprised by how many activities we got to do with the program. When it came to the free weekend it was hard to decide where to go because we got to participate in so many things through the program itself. Zorbing, black water rafting, canyon swinging, and a whale watch were all built in and activities that I am so happy to have done.
If I could tell myself one thing before I left it would be to beware; because this trip went so much faster than my last two five week study abroad programs. By the end of the other two I went on I was definitely ready to come home at the fifth week. During my stay in New Zealand I was never ready to come, especially to this blizzard! I hope to go back sometime soon!
This trip was one of the most exciting and enjoyable experiences of my entire
life. I was able to see and do more than I could have possibly imagined in just a
month. Beyond learning about the biology and geology of the country, I was
able to experience its culture and learn its history. There were many firsts for
me on this trip: first time scuba diving in the ocean, first time zorbing, first time
deep sea fishing, first time through international security, first time kayaking,
first time at a Marae and much more. I am glad to say that I left the country
with much more life experience than I entered with (as well as more academic
knowledge, of course).
I have lots of pictures of all of the major events (ie. scuba diving and the
Tongariro crossing) of the trip to help me remember them by. But I found that I
returned home notes about what made the day interesting from a day to day
basis, even when nothing exciting happened. These included things like:
ordering a lemonade and getting what seemed to be Sprite, realizing tire was
spelled with a "y", and tasting Mountain Dew and noticing that it did not taste
the same as at home. Something interesting happened every day.
I am glad I did this study during winter session. Over the month I was able to
see a great deal and enjoy the whole experience. However, the constant travel
and excitement was a bit draining, so the trip would have become stressful if it
had lasted a great deal longer than it did. Also, this leaves me with more that I
want to do in New Zealand and a great reason to go back one day, if I get the
Final Blog Entry
A herd of turtles marauding through a field of peanut butter. Drawling by Emily Olson