Thursday, February 11, 2010

Final Blog- Kristen Beebe

Kristen Beebe-
To begin, I have never had a month of my life go by so fast before my trip to
New Zealand. I think the best way to sum up my feelings on my study abroad
trip is that the learning experience I attained was of several different aspects: I
learned so much about the course material in the field, was immersed in a new
culture, and made new friendships through all the hustle and bustle of traveling
across New Zealand.
In particular I was very impressed with the program's focus on having us
experience the native culture of the Maori which was only helped by the
instructors' passion for the country and its peoples. Staying in a marae was eye
opening and seeing the different influences of the culture throughout the
country made the importance of preserving the ancient culture obvious for the
kiwis. From wooden carvings to the jade jewelry sold in almost every store, I
could see how much pride is held in the Maori.
The two classes I took while abroad were perfect for the landscape. I think I
had the best possible experience with the variety of beaches we analyzed and
actually being able to walk on the different types of mountains and volcanoes
made the material come to life. There is definitely no other place in the world
that could have been better suited for the course material.
A couple of trips and location is best enjoyed include the whale watch and
cathedral cove. Being able to see sperm whales, dusky dolphins, hector
dolphins, seals, and albatross all in one excursion was amazing! Cathedral cove
was one of my favorite beaches because it encompassed both courses well. We
had to hike a good 45 minutes to reach the picturesque beach, but when we
arrived it was definitely worth it! We were able to see different geological
formations (sea cave, arch, and stack) and some interesting fauna (sting rays
and urchins!!). Plus, there was a rocky intertidal zone on one side of the beach
where I noted limpets and some gastropods. As well, the scene was
breathtaking and the experience was one in a million! I loved that beach!!
However, at the end of each day, after all the adventures and learning, I made
new friends that will share special memories which are completely irreplaceable.
I am so so so grateful for this experience and will never let these days leave my

Thank you for everything guys!!!!

Final Blog- Jessi Wenke

Jessi Wenke

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!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Final Blog- Emily Cahoon

Emily Cahoon
Final Blog Assignment

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!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lyons Final Blog

Brianna Lyons
Final Blog

Whenever someone asks me about my trip to New Zealand, the only short answer I can come up with is that it was amazing, and I want to go back. There is no way I can explain to them
(in any reasonable amount of time) the sensations of walking on White Island, the closeness forged with people I didn't know before the trip, or the constant but varied beauty of the
country. Besides expanding my knowledge of coastal life and geologic processes, I also learned a lot about myself, and changed in ways I never considered. I've always been somewhat
of a homebody; I'm content to stay inside -or maybe under a tree- and read a book, and not particularly driven to go out and explore. I will admit that I wondered to myself as we
gathered in Philly if I really wanted to go through with this study abroad (not that I really considered backing out). I'm not sure if it's because of the country, the program, or just the
people that I travelled with during the month, but I have definitely developed a case of wanderlust. I was one of those people who could overpack in the name of having things "just in
case," but now all I want to do is grab a day bag and a duffel with a few changes of clothes, and head out.

Before the trip, I looked forward to seeing the interaction of Maori and Pakeha cultures. The influences of the two were evident for me to see throughout the country, from the silver
fern, jade, and English pubs, to the ever present "fush and chups." I will say that the venerable Bishop Pompallier and his serpent guides struck me as an especially interesting mix at the
marae though.
My focus on taking pictures of New Zealand birds fell a bit short, as either my skill or the lenses on my cameras didn't produce many quality shots. My desire to photograph the trip in
general might have gone a little overboard though; from PHL, January 2nd to PHL, February 4th, I took over 4 thousand photos.
A huge thank you goes out to everyone on and involved with this trip for making it the amazing experience that it was; keep in touch, and let's go back!

Final Blog- Kevin Crum

Kevin Crum

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- Katy Ames

Final Blog Entry

Katy Ames

I have been putting off this blog entry because I cannot summarize my experiences in New Zealand no matter how hard I try. It was amazing, way beyond any expectations I had. Not only did I learn how to identify different beach types and many different inhabitants of New Zealand's coast, I also learned how to do the Haka Pōwhiri, how to bungee jump, and I tried a lot of new and interesting food. I learned that pictures could not capture the beauty and vastness of the New Zealand landscapes, especially on the Tongariro crossing.

During the trip I met amazing people from our group, the people from the Māori tribe, the "brain trust", Craig Cary (he and his colleges identified the Pompeii worm as the most heat tolerant higher order animal on earth), all of the guest lectures, and our fearless driver Stu. I cannot wait for any reunions that we have, and I will jump on any opportunity to go back to New Zealand (possibly for grad school). However, even though I know I want to go back it won't be the same as this trip. It will not be shared with the same group of people, and it won't be at the same enjoyable pace. It will be painful sitting in a normal classroom and not on Raglan beach or on the top of Rangitoto. 

A herd of turtles marauding through a field of peanut butter. Drawling by Emily Olson 

Final Blog- Brittany Schieler

Brittany Schieler

Final Blog Assignment


Did I really complete an 18.5km walk over volcanic terrain? Better yet, was I really on an active marine volcano, ready to erupt at any moment?  And was I really THAT close to seals and penguins? Reflecting back on the trip's highlights, evident by the close to one thousand pictures I have, it's already beginning to feel unreal. This past month in New Zealand has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life and one that I will take with me throughout the rest of my college career and beyond.


I definitely met the goals I had set for myself before arriving in Auckland. I wanted to know as much about New Zealand as possible. During this month, I have learned so much about the country of New Zealand, its history, the lifestyles of the natives, and Maori culture.  I have also learned a lot about New Zealand's unique environment and it's incredible biology and geology. The first day we were asked to try to identify the shell species on the beach I was so lost and thought it was an impossible task. Towards the end of the trip, I was able to identify almost any shell I saw.  I also learned more geology in one month than I ever thought possible.


In addition to all the things I have learned about New Zealand, I feel I have learned a lot about myself and my capabilities. I learned how to cope without some conveniences we take for granted like cell phones, internet, ketchup, and my own bathroom.  I have also learned how to take risks and do things that are outside my comfort zone. From the day I jumped off the big rock at Cathedral Cove, I allowed myself to try things I normally wouldn't like zorbing, kayaking in the dark, and doing the Tongariro Crossing.


I think one of the best learning experiences for me during this trip was the free weekend.  Me and seven others spent our free weekend in the beautiful city of Tauranga. During those four days, our small group was forced to figure out our travel, meals, accommodations, and activities on our own.  This unstructured time lead us to be more interactive with the locals and all that New Zealand has to offer.  The first thing a few of us did on the free weekend was night kayaking through a canyon filled glow worms. Even though we had seen glow worms already, this was a completely different experience.  Sitting on the beautiful river in the dark, in a kayak listening to stories and history from the local guide was a breathtaking experience.  Among other things our free weekend contained, me and two others from the group went SCUBA diving on a reef. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  As a new diver, being able to dive among lush kelp beds and colorful fish was another incredible experience.


The time spent in New Zealand has meant so much to me in many different respects.  In addition to learning so much about such a fascinating country, I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. I also was fortunate to share these wonderful experiences with new friends.