It’s been my privilege and pleasure to share my experiences on this blog over the course of my stay in New Zealand. My experiences have been forever organized and cataloged into a neat little package forever preserved on the internet (or at least until IFSA decides they need to free up some of their bandwidth).
My life has been forever. Before studying abroad, I was working two jobs, going to school full time, volunteering, etc. basically turning myself into a zombie that was going through the motions of life, without really feeling any of it. I won’t make the same mistake again. Incredible opportunities and experiences are all around us at all times, but if you fail to notice them, they can disappear. Since I’ve returned to the States, I’ve been very alert. It’s my way of kindling a bit of New Zealand as it has truly become a part of me. Sure I have a job now. Yes, two days after we returned I had to go up to New York for a conference for said job. Certainly, I work hard. However, I also reserve time. Time for myself, time for my family, time for my friends – all things I had previously neglected.
Before leaving for the trip, I had made a to-do list. Let’s see how I did:
Things I did:
- Interview Maoris – I took a class on Maori Politics, stayed overnight in a Marae (Maori meeting house), and talked to loads of people, both Maori and Pakeha, about their impact and history in New Zealand. One of my favorite things that I learned from the Maori was the ‘Hongi.’ This is a greeting in which you press your nose and forehead lightly to the nose and forehead of someone else, close your eyes, and if you’d like, shake hands. I’d put up a picture but we weren’t allowed to have cameras in the Marae, so this stock image off of Google will have to do.
- Skydive. I did it! In case you missed the blog, here’s a link to a video of my dive:
- Bungee-Jump. Again, mission accomplished
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU1irsbxJrwThings I didn’t get to do:
- Surf. The combined forces of a shark attack in Auckland, and the dropping temperatures of the ocean as winter approached kept me out of the water.
- Zorb. There’s only one place in the country that you can zorb, it turns out! Unfortunately, I was never really near it, and it just didn’t pan out.
- Make an effort to find Brett and Jemaine of Flight of the Concords. Well, I made the effort, but failed in finding the comedy duo. Luckily, I’ll see them this September when they come to Philadelphia!
Honestly, I’m not even remotely disappointed about the things that I didn’t get to do – it was such a perfect experience that nothing could/did take away from it. Besides, I can just do them the next time I go!
New Zealand was undoubtedly the best experience of my life. I made friends from all over the world whilst on the other side of the world! I feel that I have a much better understanding of this funny little planet, and I’m able to see things on a much more global scale than ever before. We are all connected, regardless of location, and this trip enabled me to notice and appreciate it.
I’m home in the U.S. again. I’ve started a new job, met up with old friends, and things are more or less the same as when I left. However, my attitude has completely changed. I am happier, more energetic, and appreciate life more than I ever have before, and I owe it all to my time abroad. Thank you for everything, New Zealand.
Ka kite, ka kite, ka kite ano. We’ll see you, we’ll see you, we’ll see you again.