This trip surpassed all my expectations and I am still in shock that it is over. For
starters this experience challenged me in many ways. First, I was challenged
intellectually because I have no experience with geology and was thrown into
the field with all these unfamiliar rocks and processes. I had to rise to the
occasion. Secondly, I was challenged socially because I knew absolutely no one
before the trip and I came back with great friends. This study aboard also
challenged me culturally because spending a month in another country opened
my eyes to a different way of life and a different way of living. This trip was
physically challenging with all the hikes and especially the Tangaura Crossing. I
would never think of myself climbing hundreds of feet up steep mountains for
10 miles! Lastly this trip made me face my fears. Consider bungee jumping.
Never would I ever have voluntarily jumped off a ledge face first heading to the
ground, but I did and I'm proud of it.
This trip also changed my perception of the world. Never could I have imagined
in my wildest dreams that a place could be so beautiful and diverse, and I have
always thought I had a pretty good imagination! New Zealand showed me there
is a wider world out there that can be explored and can open my eyes to things I
never thought possible. For example, crawling through black caves with glow
worms was surreal. It makes me eager to see other parts of the world because I
know there is so much I still don't know but could yet discover.
If I could have talked to myself before I left, I would have told myself three
things. One is to take about half of what I packed in my suitcase because I
wouldn't need it. Second, I would remind myself to take advantage of every
opportunity presented because I wouldn't know when if ever I might have the
chance to do any of this again. Also I would tell myself to remember to soak it
all in and appreciate what I was doing while I was doing it. For example, stop
and really look at Cathedral Cove and take in all its beauty to make sure I will
never, never forget.
The thing that surprised me most were the locals. They were the nicest people.
They were always helpful and never had an attitude or seemed bothered by our
perhaps silly questions. However, when it came to night life, the Kiwi guys were
creepy which really threw me off. We had a joke that they were like flies, always
hovering and impossible to get to go away. Another interesting thing about New
Zealand that surprised me was the lack of wildlife. They really only have
possums (which they try to kill all time), sheep, cats, and dogs. It is really the
land of the birds.
Overall, I think I reached my goals for this trip. I was outgoing and put myself
out there to make friends. Also, I didn't shy away from opportunities. I swam at
every beach, did black cave water rafting, went bungee jumping, ate scallop
reproductive organs and much more. It is crazy to think that in one month I
have done more than some people achieve in a lifetime! I experienced many
cultural activities native to New Zealand, such as dancing and singing at the
Mauri. I also learned more about geology and marine biology than I expected. I
am excited now to go back to work this summer and be able to tell the rest of
my lifeguard patrol about coastal features and processes and why the beach
looks the way it does.
All in all this experience changed me as a person. I have grown as a student, a
friend, and a person as a whole. After this trip I have so many more goals in life,
more places I want to travel to and learn about. This experience really showed
me that I have only experienced a limited amount of life and the world. I want to
travel to places off the beaten path and learn about different cultures because
overall it would make me a better person in the end—more understanding,
more accepting. The only regret I have is that I didn't take motion sickness
medicine on the whale watch. Other than that, I wouldn't have changed the trip
or the people for anything or anybody. It was the best month of my life. I just
hope the rest of my life can live up to it. Thanks Art and Doug!!
University of Delaware