Today is my last day in New Zealand and I’m really in disbelief. At times the semester has gone quickly, at times it has crept along. But looking back on it I can’t help but feel like the time flew by. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I can still vividly remember every emotion I had getting on the plane on February 7th. Excitement, nervousness, sadness. It’s funny, because sitting here today I think I feel similarly to how I felt on February 6th, only all of those emotions are for a different reason. I’m excited to see my family and friends, nervous to re-enter my old life because I don’t want all that I’ve learned while abroad to be forgotten, and sad to be leaving such a beautiful country and in a sense ending a chapter in my life. I’ve learned so much about the culture of New Zealand, but I learned so much more about myself. It sounds corny and I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s true. And it’s something that I don’t know how to explain, or really care to explain. But I’m so glad I decided to study abroad and was given this opportunity to “find myself.” New Zealand was the perfect place to study abroad. The country is small enough that you get to know it well by the time you leave. But there’s enough to do that every weekend you can be on a new adventure.
Anyway, in this highly nostalgic state I’m in I’ve decided to write the Spark Notes version of my semester abroad. Here we go.
Butler – Picking Butler was one of the best decisions I made. Orientation was amazing, and probably my favorite aspect of what Butler did for us. It was a perfect amount of introduction into the culture, forced fun, and keeping us so busy that we didn’t remember we missed mommy and daddy. It was like a 3 day version of summer camp.
Butler also was our saving grace when the Christchurch earthquake happened. Without their dedication to making our study abroad experience amazing, we probably would have been sent home immediately. That would have been awful. Simply awful. Amy’s hardwork saved our semester.
Christchurch – Poor Christchurch. They spend millions of dollars and thousands of hours rebuilding their city only to be constantly bombarded by earthquakes that put them back at square one. My heart goes out to Christchurch for all that they’ve been through in the last 12 months.
Dunedin – The perfect little college town. If you want the kiwi university experience, this is the place to come. Also, well located to all of the attractions on the South Island.
Wellington – I loved Wellington. If I hadn’t been sent to Dunedin, I think Wellington would have been a perfect fit for me. Lots of things to do, well located, and a beautiful view. I would have been in killer shape by the end of the semester with all of those hills too!
Queenstown – My favorite place in the world. I got to see Queenstown in Summer, Fall and Winter. Beautiful every single time.
Bungy Jumping – I loved it. I didn’t think I would love it, but I did. Nothing beats the adrenaline rush and the sense of accomplishment you have afterwards.
Lord of the Rings – From the horseback ride I took of the filming cites in Glenorchy to Weta Cave in Wellington, LOTR is everywhere in New Zealand. Once you see the scenery of the South Island, it’s clear why Peter Jackson decided to film here. It’s so remote and on many of my trips around the country I felt like I was in Middle Earth. I’m fairly certain we saw a hobbit or two as well.
Kiwi Lingo – Sweet as, bro! Ya keen? Beet root, togs, long drop, pissed, jandals… as funny as they all are when locals say them.. I’m not sure many of them will make it into my daily vocabulary.
Mom’s visit – I realize how lucky I am that my mom got to visit me for two weeks. I stick by my motto that the quality of a vacation depends on two equal parts. It’s half the location and half the company you keep. I’m so glad that I got to share my “new life” with my mom.
Sydney Bridge Climb – I loved every second of it. Best 21st birthday present ever. On our way down I had this moment realizing I was all the way in Australia doing one of the things I’ve wanted to do my whole life and not everyone gets opportunities like that. It was such a cool experience.
I guess that about covers the Spark Notes version of my semester. Take home message: It’s been quite an experience. I loved it and I would do it all over again. Living in a different country is totally different than just vacationing there. I can’t explain it. You just need to experience it to understand what I mean. See ya later, New Zealand. I’ll be back again, I promise!