Michael Kelly 2/8/10
Final Blog Assignment
Overall, I would have to say that the trip to New Zealand was an amazing endeavor that taught me a great deal about the different places, people, and myself. Having been thrown into totally new surroundings with people I have never met before was to say the least, an interesting experience. My initial goals entering the trip were to learn about the geology and biology of New Zealand's coasts, but the learning went far beyond what was taught by professors. I would have to say that I learned far more than I had hoped, especially about the cultures and people of New Zealand. It was really eye opening to learn from the Maori and native Kiwis that gave me a fresh perspective on life. The most challenging aspect of the trip was accommodating the needs of other people and attempting to understand their points of view in context of their diverse backgrounds and social/cultural past. I found this to be applicable to not just the people of New Zealand, but with my fellow students. Over the course of the trip I felt that I really learned a lot about myself, who I am and perhaps more importantly who I am not. I found that in my opinion I am much more tolerant and understanding of new people, ideas, and situations than most others. Being able to cope with new situations and take care of myself was also something that really became apparent to me. I was proud of my ability to learn about new places, how they function, and how to take care of my needs.
My perceptions of New Zealand were only strengthened and improved from my trip there. The great cultural heritage and history was to me quite amazing and the pride and importance New Zealanders have in their cultural history reinforced my respect for their great nation. Coming back to the states, I have found that things seem to be must faster paced and oriented around more superficial things. The trip also has really made me aware of how few people appreciate and utilize the outdoors here at home. Yes, people at home love the beach and beautiful landscapes, but fail to understand the importance of these places in a manner that transcends the obvious physical attributes.
If I were able to talk to myself being going to New Zealand there are many things I would like to say. First off, be careful jumping fences or try to avoid them all together (since I sprained my ankle pretty bad). On a more serious note, I would advise myself to be more outgoing, utilize my free time to take the path less traveled and take advantage of the amazing, unique things New Zealand has to offer. Anyone can be a tourist, but to really experience a place you have to make the effort to do so. In my future travels I hope to be more outgoing, willing to take risks and be outside my 'comfort zone' to really experience a new place and learn the most that I can.