It seems that I’m constantly on the move. I never run out of things to do no matter where I am. And it’s saddening to think that this will all come to an end very soon. The day I fly out from New Zealand is going to approach quickly and I won’t realize this until the actual moment comes.
The past couple of weeks have progressed much quicker than I thought. It felt liberating to finally finish my last exam because from that point on, I did not have to worry about schoolwork anymore. All I had to think about was what I was going to do with my remaining time in the country. I took advantage of my free time right away. I had made plans to leave after my exam to travel the north part of the South island, which was a 900 kilometer trip from Dunedin.
As my three friends and I drove in the northern direction, we made stops along the way. After five hours of driving, we ventured out to Castle Hill, which had been named the “Spiritual Center of the Universe” by the Dalai Lama. The location seemed to be at absolute peace and serenity. As we walked towards the entrance, we were greeted with vast green land which was completely occupied by several limestone boulders. Each stone varied in size, for they ranged from 8 to 40 feet. The area was the epitome of New Zealand’s climbing scene. Every corner we turned, there was a new bouldering opportunity that we were drawn to. It became our glorified playground and my favorite place that I’ve visited in New Zealand.
As we proceeded north, we drove through Arthur’s Pass National Park, a scenic highway route. The further we immersed ourselves into the valleys, the more impressive and vast the mountains became that surrounded us. Just when you thought you couldn’t imagine anything bigger, something even more immense came along. Such remarkable scenery reminded me of how much I haven’t seen, and I became more than grateful to find myself venturing out to places that I had never thought about encountering.
Abel Tasman National Park was our final destination, for we wanted to tramp one of the Great Walks, the coastal track. It is located in the northwestern part of the island. The weather was noticeably different from the weather in Dunedin. The temperature was warmer and the sun wasn’t constantly hiding behind the clouds. The track as a whole was fairly easy mostly because there was very little elevation. As we hiked the track, we came across several different accesses to beaches, which made it even more enjoyable. One could almost say that it was more relaxing than a strenuous activity for us.
Once we finished the track, we traveled east to Picton so that we could start another tramp, the Queen Charlotte track. Since we didn’t have the time or stamina to do the entire track, we decided to start in the middle where we would get the best views of the Marlborough Sounds. As we reached to an elevation of just over 400 meters, we concluded that we could have not picked a better spot to be on the track. Out of 71 kilometers, we chose the perfect place.
After six days, we made our way back to Dunedin. The thought of leaving has finally become a reality now that my packing has begun. My flight to return to home is November 21st and I leave Dunedin with my flatmates on the 10th. For those remaining 11 days, we will be traveling the entire North island. It will be our last and final stretch of traveling in New Zealand. The Auckland airport will be where we depart back to our home countries.
Tonight is my last night in Dunedin. The town has become not only the place where I reside, but it has also become my home. Traveling around in New Zealand would not have been the same if I had not been with the people that I have met here. As I’ve gotten to know them, they have become an important aspect in my life as we have all supported each other regardless of the fact that we are all from extremely different places and cultures. We all came to New Zealand for our own yet similar reasons, all of which have naturally forced us to make the experience much more meaningful in a way we never imagined.
Expectations are never met. We can never be absolutely certain about anything until we have experienced it for ourselves. Thus, it is best to go in without any expectations or set plans. Keep an open mind. You never know what changes and occurrences will present themselves, for it could potentially be for the better in the end. If you knew everything that was about to happen to come, to what degree would you actually enjoy it?
Seeing that this is my last blog post for the semester tells me that the journey is finally coming to an end. I highly enjoyed writing about my study abroad experience. It has been recorded and now I have something to always look back on to reflect the entire semester. Thank you for providing me with this opportunity, Richmond; you have helped me make my memories and experience permanent.
With my last words, I will say that if you have any desire to study abroad, do it. Some inconveniences may present themselves, but they can be solved. As cliché as it sounds, the experience as a whole is unlike anything you could ever imagine and there is no reason for anyone to miss out on that. No one should be deprived from seeing the world.
To consider myself lucky is an understatement. Thank you to everyone who has made my time more than enjoyable over here in New Zealand. As for all the other study abroaders, it will soon be time for us to go back home and return reality back at school.
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring