Final Blog Assignment
February 6, 2010
My experience in New Zealand was one that I will never forget. We did so
many cool and interesting things and traveled to so many great places. It truly
was the most beautiful place in the world. Everywhere I looked, I felt like I was
looking at a postcard. I learned so much about the culture of New Zealand,
particularly the Maori culture, and about the geology and biology of the
The night before I left for New Zealand, I was so anxious and excited. I
couldn't wait to get there and start on our journey around the country. I didn't
know much about New Zealand and I was so excited to see a place that was on
the other side of the world. As the days went by, the group of students got
really close. I think being together every day and every night and experiencing
such amazing things with each other brought us together and made us really
enjoy each other's company. I know that we will remain friends because we are
bonded by our amazing experiences in New Zealand.
I really enjoyed the White Island tour. Being on an active volcano was something
I never thought I would do. It was amazing seeing something like that up close
and getting to explore it. I remember standing on the island looking around at
the steam vents and at the blue water around the island and thinking how lucky
we were to be able to visit such a cool place. I also enjoyed jumping off the boat
with everyone after the tour and seeing the dolphins swimming around our
boat. I have never seen dolphins in the wild that close and it was so fun to stand
on the boat and watch them jump in the boat's waves.
Black water rafting and seeing the glowworms in the caves was another one of
my favorite activities. I wasn't sure what to expect when I heard we had the
choice to go black water rafting but I am definitely glad that I chose to give it a
try. It was so cool to be so far underground, walking around in amazing caves
and seeing glowworms while floating around in rafts. It was interesting to see
the geological aspects of the caves. Learning about caves in a textbook would
definitely not be as interesting or exciting as that day!
The Tongariro Crossing was one of the activities we were told about during the
interest meetings. I had never been hiking and I had never even done anything
of such a long distance before. I was nervous about being able to finish the
crossing because I knew it was challenging. As we got closer to the day of the
crossing, we were all a little worried about what it was going to be like. It turned
out to be my favorite day of the trip. The weather was perfect and we started
the hike at 10 am. As we walked, I ended up with five other people who were
around the same pace as I was. We stayed together the whole day and had an
amazing time. The scenery was incredible and we stopped to take pictures and
soak in the scenery many times. The challenge of the hike made it exciting and
we encouraged each other throughout the day. When we finally made it to the
end, we were all so proud of what we had just accomplished.
One of the important goals I set for myself at the beginning of the trip was to
fully immerse myself in a culture that I didn't know much about. Throughout
the month, I feel that I really accomplished that goal. The trip started with us
wandering around Auckland in shock that we were finally in New Zealand. The
marae stay was one of the coolest things we could have done, in my opinion.
We basically got to see what it is like to live with these families. We learned
about their culture in a way that is not visible by just hearing about it in stories.
I will never forget the pride that family had in their eyes when we performed the
haka for them. They looked so happy that another culture took the time to learn
something that has been so important to their people for hundreds of years. I
really tried to go all out during the month and try lots of new things, even little
things. Instead of getting a Diet Coke, I ordered L & P. Rather than getting a
burger for lunch, I ordered the fish and chips or steak and cheese pie. It made
me feel as though I was taking full advantage of my time in New Zealand and
living as the Kiwis do. I also discovered my obsession with Tim Tams, which I
brought back with me to the US.
The month went by so quickly, but I have so many great memories to share with
my friends and family at home. Skydiving, bungee jumping, black water rafting
and a 19 km hike are all things I never thought I would do, let alone do them in
a place as beautiful as New Zealand. Now I have accomplished so much and I
feel so happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to spend a month
traveling around and exploring New Zealand.