When I was five years old, I rolled out of my twin sized bed around 11:30 at night and decided that I wanted to go on an adventure. I grabbed my Jansport backpack off its hook in my closet, packed it full of clothes and my favorite stuffed animals, and headed out the back door. From there, I threw the things I had gathered in a wagon from my shed and headed on down the street.
I got all the way through our neighborhood onto the main road before I turned around. The only reason I did turn around, actually, is because the sidewalk ended and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to navigate my wagon from there on (I was five cut me a break).
My mother was not happy when the police returned me a few hours later.
I didn’t understand her anger at me. I had just decided I wanted to expand my horizons and do some sightseeing, I didn’t mean it as a slight or an insult. I loved my family and I had every intention of returning—at some point.
While I do concede that my five-year-old adventures were ill advised at best, I think this story goes to show my innate curiosity about the world around me. From a young age, I’ve wondered what’s behind each turn and longed for new experiences and adventures. Now, at nineteen, I’m sitting at my gate preparing to travel 8,684 miles away from home. New Zealand has been a destination I’ve dreamed of seeing my entire life. It’s surreal, having the opportunity to go see a place I’ve only read about in books (It’s going to be far less surreal on the 16-hour plane ride from Dallas to Sydney, I’m sure).
While I’m in New Zealand, I’ll be focusing on linguistics and the Maori culture for my class. What’s really cool about this though, is that the whole purpose is to really immerse oneself into the island’s culture. I have the opportunity to stay with a New Zealand family as well as another international student from Indonesia. I’ll also be studying at Canterbury University, the largest in the country (not that that necessarily says much, they have more sheep than people there). We spend most of our time outside of the classroom exploring the city of Christchurch as well as getting out into the island a few times for more long-term excursions such as whale watching and Hanmer hot springs. The point is: this is one hell of an adventure.
My stay in New Zealand is four weeks long; four weeks of gorgeous beaches, breathtaking mountains, and of course, penguins. From there, I elected to extend my trip by heading over to the land down under and making my way down the gold coast.
I start my time in Australia with three days in Brisbane, where I intend to explore Bondi beach, hang out at Southbank, and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the city. From Brisbane, I’ll head for another three days in Sydney where I intend to do the Split Bridge to Manly coastal hiking walk, experience Port Jackson Harbor, and take in the views from the famous Sydney Harbour bridge. Finally, I cap it off with a four-day tour of Melbourne, which is supposed to be one of Australia’s most unique cities with an art culture guaranteed to knock my socks off. I can’t wait.
While my excitement is at an all time high, I do have to admit that I will miss my friends and family a ton, but I can’t wait to come home and tell them all the crazy stuff I will hopefully see and do. Saying goodbye to my mom at the airport today was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do (her tearing up DID NOT HELP), but I’m so grateful to everyone (especially my mom) in my life for pushing me to achieve my dreams and not be afraid to put myself out there. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my phenomenal mother and all of my friends (a special shout out to Meghan and Allie for picking me up at the airport when I get back home). A nerdy little sixth grader once held up a copy of National Geographic and vowed to see the mountaintops of New Zealand one day. At nineteen I’m fulfilling my dream and I couldn’t be happier. But that’s all for now, I’m off to the land of the kiwis where I will be spending my days amongst the whales, seals, and penguins, Oh my!