This past May I set out on an adventure that took me to the other side of the world. I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Australia and New Zealand. The month that I spent there was such an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. Now that I have been back in the US for a few weeks, I am really starting to miss Australia and New Zealand. First and foremost, I miss the weather, which is something I never thought I would say. But being back in Augusta, GA with F weather and extreme humidity makes me miss wearing every layer I brought to New Zealand in attempt to stay warm.
This trip was definitely full of adventures. From hiking in the rainforest, mountains, and the outback to horseback riding through the Lord of the Rings Battlefields on psychotic horses, (yes I did just say psychotic- and I’ve ridden horses my whole life) and even bungee jumping to fulfill our inner dare devil, this trip had it all.
In New Zealand we experienced a world that is very intent on sustainability and maintaining the beautiful landscapes that they possess. We also learned that one of the major driving forces behind these practices is tourism. They want to show the world just how beautiful the natural earth is. It is difficult to come home and to see just how different the opinions on nature are between the societies.
While in the Great Barrier Reef on Lady Elliott Island, I had the opportunity to go scuba diving. As you can probably imagine, I was super nervous. Especially when the “you can not dive if…” lecture happened. Well lucky for me, I fulfilled two of those bullet points during that talk. But hey, when am I ever going to get this chance to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef again? Probably never. So I kept my mouth shut and hoped nothing would go wrong. I am so glad I did because it was the most amazing experience. If you’ve ever wondered what its like to be a mermaid, this was that moment. It definitely surpassed my wildest dreams while I swam with giant sea turtles, rays, parrot fish, and yes, of course, Nemo and his whole gang.
Before I left for the land down under, I was so nervous to travel to a foreign country knowing that I would only know two people when I got there. But what I didn’t realize is how close I would get to this incredible group as fast as we did. Through group projects and very strange room assignments, I got to know each and every person in my cohort. Some more so than others, but I quickly learned that we were all in the same situation. Thankfully there was an even mix of personalities so there was always someone there for every occasion or mood imaginable. I would not have traded a single person in my cohort because each one of them means the world to me. They are my family, much like my sorority sisters.
I wouldn’t have been able to hike to the base of Mount Cook, do a polar plunge in water full of glaciers, survive a 10 hour overnight bus ride, swim with 200 wild dolphins, hold a koala, concur my fear of something going wrong while scuba diving or befriend some kangaroos without them. And I wouldn’t imagine it any other way.