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Farewell New Zealand

Time June 27th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | 1 Comment by

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!

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Our Sydney Adventure

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After our week and a half in New Zealand, my mom and I went to Sydney for a few nights. I fully expected Sydney to be beautiful and warm. But it was even more amazing than I had expected. I’m not really a city person, but Sydney had a comforting feel to me. As my 21st birthday present, my mom sent me up to do the Harbor Bridge Climb which is something I’ve wanted to do since I was little. It was amazing! 1500 steps in all but you don’t notice you’re tired because of the 360 degree view the entire way. In Sydney we also took a trip out to the Blue Mountains and we went night spotting for kangaroos and wombats in the bush. We also saw the Sydney Symphony Orchestra play Royal Wedding Marches in the Opera House. Since we were only here for a few days, we packed our days full of activities. I could have easily spent weeks in Sydney. Definitely one of my favorite places in the world. And what made this trip even better was that I could finally share my experiences with my mom.

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Sydney Opera House

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Sydney!

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Kangaroos and Wallabies

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Koalas!

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Night spotting for wombats

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Random Critters of Oz

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An updated version of my Google Map highlighting my travels in New Zealand

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Milford Sound

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Mom visits New Zealand!

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

On April 18th, I was lucky enough to have my mom come and visit me! She had scheduled her original trip before the Christchurch earthquake happened. Since I ended up in Dunedin, with a much different Easter break, we had to do some shuffling around. But, it all worked out in the end! I’m just so glad that she was still able to come. I still had classes for a few days after she arrived so I just showed her around Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula in between classes. On Friday, we headed up to Oamaru to see the Blue Penguins. Then we drove to Mt. Cook, Tasman Glacier and Lake Tekapo. The following day we drove to Wanaka and Queenstown. We spent two nights in Queenstown and then drove through Arrowtown on our way to Te Anau to see the Glow Worm Caves. I wish I could have taken video of the Glow Worms. They were amazing! If you have time, look them up on Google! Honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. You climb into a cave and then take a boat in the cave into the Glowworm Grotto which is pitch black. When you look up in there it looks like stars because of all of the little glowing specks. It was amazing. The next day we went to Milford Sound. Our last day we took the southern scenic route home to Dunedin. Mom conquered driving on the left quite easily. We drove about 1000 miles in New Zealand during that week! I’ve included videos from most of the stops along the way!

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Wanaka and Queenstown

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Judge for yourself which one you think is prettier! Wanaka is the first clip and Queenstown is the second!


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Kawarau Bridge: The World’s First Bungy Jump

Time May 9th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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Glenorchy

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Minus 5 Ice Bar: Queenstown

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Lake Tekapo

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Icebergs from the Tasman Glacier

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Sealions and Penguins at the Beach

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A weekend in the Catlins

Time April 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

The Catlins is another name for the Southern Scenic Route of New Zealand. Three other girls and I rented a car for the weekend and explored the coastline. Luckily one of the girls is from Australia so she is used to driving on the left. So, we had her drive during the more crowded parts of the trip, going in and out of Dunedin. Once we were on the Southern Scenic Route, we barely passed 20 cars the whole day. We did have some excitement driving, though. We got stuck in a herd of cattle and all we could think was, “Please don’t hurt the rental car!” We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather all weekend and the scenery was absolutely amazing. Around every corner is another beautiful view. This is clear by the 600 pictures I took in two days! Thank goodness for digital cameras!
Although New Zealand is such a small country, there is so much to see. It’s kind of difficult to get around New Zealand, though, because there aren’t very many roads and the roads that they do have are all very windy. Therefore, it takes much longer to get places than it seems like it should if you just look at a map. I’m doing my best to see as much of the south island as possible. So far I’ve done weekend trips to Queenstown, Oamaru and the Catlins. My mom comes on Monday and she’ll be here for two weeks. While she’s here we will be seeing a lot more of the south island and we’re also going to Sydney for a few days. After Mom leaves, I have weekend trips to Stewart Island, Wellington and Kaikoura planned. My biggest fear is that I’ll regret not seeing something while I was over here, so I’m trying to cover as much ground as possible on the budget that I have. One definite plus of travelling in New Zealand is the availability of hostels. A typical double room in a hostel with a shared bathroom costs $30. All of the hostels I have stayed in so far were very nice. I’ve only had one hostel room with a door that didn’t lock! Flights in New Zealand are also relatively cheap. A flight from Dunedin to Wellington will only cost about $200 round trip. The trick is finding a cheap way to get to the airports!
I really can’t believe how fast my trip has gone so far! I’ve been planning this trip for over a year and it’s already half way over. However, the good part of being in the second half of my trip is that I’m mostly over my homesickness and I’m at the stage where I just want to take advantage of every opportunity that I get.

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Roadtrip to the Catlins!

Time April 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Here’s some scenery from my weekend roadtrip to the Catlins! Complete with penguins, sheep and a herd of cattle!

 
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My Google Map

Time April 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on My Google Map by


View Emily’s New Zealand Travels in a larger map

This is the link to My Google Map. I have marked all of the places that I have been so far and added a brief description of each place. It’s nice because it’s easy to see where everything is in relation to each other. I will keep updating it as I go to more places. I’m doing my best to see as much of the south island as possible!

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Flowers from the Dunedin Botanic Garden

Time April 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

These are just pictures of a few flowers in the Dunedin Botanic Garden.


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Wildlife of New Zealand

Time April 13th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

These are just a few of the animals I’ve seen so far!


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Emily goes Bungy Jumping

Time March 21st, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I went bungy jumping 400 meters over Queenstown!


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Queenstown: The Adventure Capital of the World

Time March 21st, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Last weekend, my friend Lindsay and I went to Queenstown. Queenstown is about a 5 hour drive from Dunedin and is called the adventure capital of the world because it is the original home of bungy jumping and offers many more exciting activities like jet boating, sky diving, cave diving and ATV tours. It was a really fun weekend and I think that Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. While we were there we went bungy jumping and we also went on a Lord of the Rings horseback ride.


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