I’ll start this post by saying: I definitely picked the right country to do my study abroad. The pace of life is slower, tourists don’t flood what few city streets exist, and nature dominates most of the land. The snowcapped mountains expand much of the island, leaving a trail of sparkling blue glacial lakes where the glaciers once stood. Every way you turn is a new and spectacular view, and you can’t help but marvel at the creation God has displayed before you. I love to sit and imagine in those moments just how much fun He must’ve had in creating this earth and how fortunate we are to enjoy moments like these…these beautiful, peaceful, blissful moments where the silence is deafening. I love these moments.
From Christchurch, we drove south to Queenstown, a place comparable to Aspen, Colorado. From there, we continued south to the southern most tip in New Zealand, Invercargill Bluff.
Following Queenstown, we took the scenic route back to Christchurch, but, unfortunately, the rainy weather prevented us from seeing much of the Southern Alps. We did take a short hike up to Fox Glacier despite the rain. The glacier has retreated so far in recent years that it is now only accessible by helicopter drop-off…a true testament to the impact global warming is having on nature’s wonders.
We spent the last day of our ‘holiday’ in Christchurch, seeing the city, and exploring the east coast some. We were really surprised to find such little shopping in Christchurch for it being the largest city on the south island, but locals informed us the 2011 earthquakes wiped out much of the city and they are still in the process of rebuilding. Many roads are closed, most buildings are held up with scaffolding, and box cars block much of the damaged buildings from collapsing onto roads. It’s hard to see such a beautiful place have to recover from such devastation.
We ended the night early with lamb burgers and the inevitable packing/rolling/smooshing of all the accumulated souvenirs and keepsakes over the last couple weeks. An early morning calls for an early bedtime. Tonight, I cherish my last night of heat: heated beds, heated towel racks, and heated rooms. _____________________________________________________________________________
For the past two and a half weeks, I have played the role of tourist with my parents. We spent over 30 hours on a plane, visited over 10 cities, drove 1,700 miles in the car, and made countless memories. And, tomorrow I say goodbye to my parents and hello to the 13 other students who will become like family. Actually, tomorrow is filled with a lot of goodbyes and new hellos. I say goodbye to my tourist lifestyle and hello to ‘local living.’ I say goodbye to central heating and hello to layers. I say goodbye to the luxury of daily internet connection and hello to human connection. These goodbyes (particularly central heating) are all going to be difficult, but I’m ready to embrace these new hellos, to experience something outside myself, beyond myself. I’m ready to let myself change, to let myself become someone new through these experiences. I’m ready for Hello.