Anticipating an extended trip abroad may entail a potluck of emotions and a pile of paperwork that would rather be left alone. Perhaps the anxiety of knowing I will be separated from my dog for too long may be my biggest fear. Nonetheless, my excitement for the next five months is becoming hard to maintain with calamity and it is safe to say I am ready for take off.
As I prepare for this new chapter of my life I know the only certainty I can expect is change. That word is a terrifying one, and many fear it including me. Despite this, change is inevitable and that is the beauty of a captivating life. Thanks to the internet I have seen countless images of the stunning views New Zealand has to offer. I also know that as of 2014 there are 30 million sheep outnumbering the three million kiwis present and that 30% of the country’s population lives in Auckland. So sure it is possible to know the history and culture of a country without ever leaving the comfortable confines of your home, but that knowledge could never surpass the value of experiencing a vibrant new society previously unacquainted with. And we all know cameras could never fully capture the beauty of its subject when compared to the naked eye. Life is meant to be LIVED not imagined through digital fabrications and for this reason alone I decided to put my Pinterest boards aside and make this adventure a reality. As soon as I started the process of filling out all the necessary applications including those to my program provider and affiliated university, everything fell into place. If you are looking into studying abroad and end up with a great program to travel with such as USAC then you will be working with an awesome team of professionals to help walk you through the process. Of course, not one part of this trip could have been made possible without the support and encouragement from my family and friends. Even more, my parents have proved to be keynote contributors in the effort to get me over to the great Aotearoa. I am eternally grateful to live in a world that allows me to pursue my dreams and live a life better than I could ever imagine. Mom and dad if you’re reading this, thank you for never failing me…I love you.
Words of Wisdom to the future traveler: As soon as you decide on a destination and commit to the idea of spending a semester of study overseas, the wheels of preparation will start turning and for the next few months every little detail of your trip will need to be attended to. For example, you may be bombarded with a plethora of deadlines for forms and applications that need to be completed and dates for orientations may be in your future as well. Writing a list of everything that needed to be done was the best thing I ever did to stay organized. Trust me, you will not remember it all. Fortunately I had an amazing group of advisors both from my program provider, USAC, and my home university at USC to guide me in the right direction. Not every little detail will be spelled out for you in bold letters however, which is why it is important to ask questions if you are ever unsure. Seek help and you shall receive it. The most rewarding part about all those months of planning was seeing everything fall into place as the departure date drew near. Knowing that I could take an idea of mine and make it happen brought about an immense feeling of satisfaction and I felt a sense of pride for turning wishful thinking into reality. Ultimately, I was proud for aspiring to do something good for myself, and maintaining that the goal be realized in full to the very end. There is something incredibly neat about following your dreams. If there is something you feel drawn to do, whether it is traveling the world or painting a picture, do it. Go after the things that make your soul breathe. Do what makes you happy because life is so uncertain and there is no time to resent missed opportunity. Most importantly, do what makes you understand the magnitude of life’s beauty.
Follow Val on her blog as she adventures around New Zealand!
Hei konā rā (Goodbye in Māori)