Alyssa in New Zealand: Mid-semester break

It is important to take advantage of the environment you’re in, but it is also vital to not let yourself forget about the other places that surround you as well. There is much to discover and explore, but we can’t let ourselves be distracted by what’s only in front of us. Leaving the U.S. two months ago was my first step towards new journeys. After having been in New Zealand for seven weeks, it was time to put my life in Dunedin on pause and venture to the neighboring country, Australia.

Once mid-semester break arrived, my flatmates and I were constantly on the move for the entirety of the trip, beginning to end. Driving to Christchurch was our first endeavor, for that was where our flight was departing from. The three hour plane ride brought us to one of the most famous cities in the world, Sydney. Right away we started exploring, touching many aspects of the city such as the Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park, Darling Harbor and the Harbor Bridge. The climate was so different compared to what we have been used to in Dunedin that we made our way out to Manly Beach the following day in order to enjoy the warm weather.


Sydney Harbor Bridge at night


Shortly after, we flew north towards even warmer weather to Cairns. I was caught off guard by the heat, for the thought of having weather in the 80’s seemed foreign to me at that time. It didn’t take long for me to change into shorts and t-shirts. Our first adventure consisted of the Great Barrier Reef. We boarded a boat that took us out an hour from the shores of Cairns and were provided with snorkeling gear. As I jumped off the boat into the ocean, I didn’t feel one sting of coldness from the water because the air was so tropical. Looking underwater was incredible, for the amount of marine life that was directly below me was overwhelming in a sense that I felt as if I needed to see everything. Whether it was in a form of coral or fish, color completely surrounded me. Every aspect of the reef was unique. Not one fish looked like one another and each corner presented a wide arrangement of vivid hues.


Josephine Falls in Cairns

Cairns had much to offer on land as well. We ventured our way into several different rainforests running into several waterfalls, lakes and other different kinds of nature. There were also several beaches that were easy to access around the city as well. Each day in Cairns beheld a different adventure in front of us. It felt as if we were seeing the most authentic parts of Australia regardless of what kind of setting we were in.


My flatmates and I ventured our way to under the waterfall at Milla Milla Falls in Cairns

Knowing we couldn’t stay in Cairns forever, we began to travel south towards Brisbane. On the way, we stopped at the Whitsunday islands for a day trip. Nothing could have prepared me to anticipate such a view. Expectations are never accurate, for no sense of what you are going to see can perfectly depict what is actually there. Pictures almost do Whitsundays no justice. With the water having 20 different hues of blue, the scenery is unable to be replicated by any other location. The silica sand on the beach was so soft that you could exfoliate yourself with it (which I most certainly did). Paradise would be an understatement to describe what it was like. Thinking about going back at the end of the day became a concern, for every inch of my body was reluctant to leave.


Whitsundays islands

We finally arrived in Brisbane, which was our last stop on our trip but it didn’t necessarily mean we were slowing down. We utilized our time by visiting Long Pine Sanctuary, the first and largest koala bear sanctuary in Australia. The entire place was enriched with all kinds of Australian life such as koala bars, wombats, dingoes, crocodiles and kangaroos. To our delight, we were easily able to enjoy our time with the kangaroos up close in such a way that we were allowed to fully interact and pet them. The animals showed very little sign of discomfort, and they were very welcoming to visitors. Kangaroos were lounging everywhere in this field waiting for attention and consolation.


The kangaroos were more than welcoming when they were approached by visitors

Every beginning has an end, and finally we flew out from Sydney back to Christchurch. Having been in Australia for ten days, we were ready to return to New Zealand. A change of scenery is always enjoyable, but returning to what you’re familiar with always generates a sense of comfort. Being away from my home in Dunedin has made me appreciate how at ease I actually am in New Zealand.

Having Australia being so nearby was such a convenience, for there was most likely no other time when I would go there besides being abroad now. Opportunities aren’t always available. You can’t expect for them to present themselves at any time. If it’s there, you can either take it now or sometimes even never. Fears or distress shouldn’t obstruct your true desires. Visiting Australia had always been one of mine for as long as I can remember, yet I was always worried about money and time management. However, studying abroad presented the perfect chance for me to go and it undoubtedly became one of the most remarkable trips of my life.

Life has now resumed back in Dunedin, and it’s almost like nothing has changed. I am more than halfway throughout the semester and I am already fearing that the end is going to arrive sooner than I think. Such a thought only reminds me that there is still so much more for me to do and see. Nevertheless, I am already more than satisfied by the amount of things that I have done thus far. It’s almost impossible to see and do everything that New Zealand has to offer down to the last piece of nature. However, it is possible to fully appreciate all that has been seen and done.

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