Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Pre-Departure and Such

Hello there,
My name’s Jake, and in two weeks, I’ll fly out to Los Angeles, where I will board the plane that will take me to New Zealand.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, this is what New Zealand looks like:

Oo-la-la!

Very nice, eh?  Well, I’m expecting some major culture shock when I get there, as the most exotic place I’ve ever been to is Tropical Wyoming.  This is what that looks like:

If this doesn’t scream ‘Tropical-Paradise-Island-Beaches-Sand-Fun,’ I don’t know what does.

I’m not sure it’s possible to be more excited than I am to get out to New Zealand.  It’s just about as far away as you can get from my current placement (Lansdowne, PA), and from the sounds of it, completely different from everything I’ve ever experience.  Will I miss my friends and family?  Of course.  Will ever get another opportunity to travel so far, and experience a place so thoroughly?  Doubt it.  That’s why it is crucial that I live in the moment (and country) while I can.  Every moment I spend missing home is a moment spent missing out on my experience abroad.  I don’t plan on missing many moments at all.

As excited as I am, the whole thing just doesn’t seem quite real yet.  I suppose that is because I don’t have a point of reference to compare my expectations for New Zealand to.  I’ve read about the country, and seen many pictures and videos, but I don’t think that I’ve been anywhere that’s like it, so it’s largely unknown to me, and will remain so until I get there.  However, it does feel like things are winding down here at home – I just worked my last shift at one of my jobs last night (I have/had two).  I was a waiter at this restaurant for three years.  I’m keeping my other job as a counselor at a day care center up until I leave.  It’s strange going around and carrying on with my daily routine, knowing that in just a few weeks, I won’t anymore.  I’ll be in a whole new place, surrounded by new people, and live a new life.

Actually, not everything will be new.  I should tell you that my travels abroad will be a bit different from that of others, as my girlfriend of nearly five years, Sam, is studying abroad with me.  This photo pretty much sums up our relationship:

Sam and I gave all of our family members New Zealand flags for Christmas.  It’s kind of funny seeing them all hanging around town – people probably suspect there’s an uprising afoot.

I’m expecting a lot from New Zealand – I expect life to be more tranquil and egalitarian there.  However, I know that all places have wonderful and less-than-wonderful things about them, and I am opening myself up to it all.  I have a to-do list while I’m there as follows:

  1. Interview Maoris and learn all I can from them.  The Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand, who traveled there from Eastern Polynesia on canoes.  How awesome is that?
  2. Skydive.  How can you have the time of your life, without risking your life?
  3. Bungee-Jump.  See number 2.
  4. Surf.  I’ve never done it, but feel like I should.
  5. Zorb.  If you haven’t heard of this, it’s essentially the act of running down hills in a giant plastic bubble.
  6. Make an effort to find Brett and Jemaine of Flight of the Concords.   For those of you who don’t know them, you should watch this.  You’ve been warned – this will most likely become your life after viewing.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmDTSQtK20c

I think that’s about it for now!  I’ll update once I’m over there.  IFSA Butler is having a four-day-long orientation for us, so I won’t have internet access until after that, so you’ll hear from me around February 10ish.  Take care!

~Jake

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