Amanda DePasquale – Final Blog
This trip has left me speechless. I can't even begin to explain to people how awesome it was. I never imagined that I would do all of the different things that I did in one month. This trip has meant so much to me. The opportunities that it has given me were unlike any other opportunities I have ever had, and I'm so happy to have taken them.
Before I came, I was interested in learning about the Maori culture and learning the haka. I learned the woman's version of the haka, and watched the men perform their version. I also learned a lot about them from just talking to the people that lived in the marae. The other goal I had was to learn about the geology and biology of New Zealand. I can say that I successfully did that. I feel confident in identifying beach states, shells, wave types, sediments, and plants in coastal environments. I saw sea stars, crabs, and even penguins in their natural habitats. I saw a beach made of very fine grain black magnetic sand. I even took some home.
My goals increased as the trip progressed. I wanted to see more, experience more, do more. I made sure to take advantage of any opportunity that we were given, like the black water rafting in the glow worm caves and zorbing. Although they cost money, I am so happy that I did them. I took every opportunity I had to see things also. I went hiking up Mt. Maunganui at night with some students, which was incredible. The views were just breathtaking.
As for challenges, there really weren't any huge ones on the trip for me. I have studied abroad before, so I was not homesick. Physically, my body was quite sore after the Tongariro crossing, but no pain no gain right? Emotionally, my grandpa passed away during the last week of our stay in New Zealand, and it was so hard for me to be away from my family at that tough time.
But on a lighter note, my perception of New Zealand is natural. It is so overgrown and untouched that it is amazing. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park because the ferns were HUGE. Not only that, the amount of different environments in New Zealand are incredible. There were beaches, forests, rain forests, sand dunes, volcanoes, pastures, mountains... you name it New Zealand probably has it. The islands are so natural and clean, full of biology and geology.
If I could talk to myself before the trip, I would tell myself to get ready for the experience of a lifetime. Be prepared to see the most beautiful place in the world, in which pictures cannot capture the awesomeness of it. My experience in New Zealand has been like no other experience I had before. The places I visited and the things that I did will stay with me forever, and I will continue to tell everyone who asks me about how great it was. I am so happy to have had such a fantastic experience here, and to make some great friends. This trip has opened my eyes, and I am even considering spending more time in New Zealand after I graduate from UD.