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
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!