Before leaving for Australia I would have never guessed that I would be traveling as much as I am. It’s crazy to think about. I’ve seen so many much of Sydney, swam in the Great Barrier Reef and had a spring break in Bali. But the most memorable trip I took happened towards the end of my study abroad experience to the stunning country of New Zealand. This trip was one that I did know I’d be taking before I left because I had made arrangements to visit one of my friends, Rob, who was studying abroad at the Victoria University of Wellington. Early on, I knew I had to do some extra planning because we knew that finding a time that worked with both of our schedules would be tough. The school I attend, CAPA, has a rule that you are allowed one missed class for each course for the entire semester, so I decided to save all my “skips” for the week I went to New Zealand. I made sure to tell my professors well in advance that I’d be absent from class during that week so I could have all the coursework I needed before I left for Wellington. After I bought my plane ticket, I was feeling excited because this would be the first time I’d ever planned a trip on my own.
As far as knowing what to do and our agenda in New Zealand, I left that mostly up to my friend who had since lived there for 3 months and knew everything you’d need to know about navigating NZ. You might wonder…what do you need to know? Well, when visiting NZ for the first time, you need to have a plan and have done your research. The island is filled with many natural wonders to see so we wanted to utilize our time wisely.
We arranged a ferry ride from Wellington to the south island, hired a rental car, and booked a flight back to Wellington from Queenstown because I had to catch my return flight to Sydney. While in Wellington, I stayed in my friend’s flat but in the south island, we hostel hopped to save money. One problem I ran into was fitting all my clothes in one bag. I was staying for 7 days and wasn’t checking a bag on the plane. I needed to fit everything in my backpack. I really had no idea what kind of weather to expect either, other than wind and rain, which is what Rob told me. So, I packed to dress warmly. During my stay in the south island, the weather was actually warm, sunny and fairly cloudless besides rain on our last day. Looking back, I regretted bringing so many pairs of sweatpants and heavy clothing. Also, I had forgotten my rain jacket. The key takeaways here are: check the weather forecast for the week you are traveling, think realistically when packing and always double check.
All of the preparation paid off though because the experience was unforgettable. I never knew a place existed where you could see sandy beaches and snow-capped mountains all at the same time. It was the middle of spring when we went so the green foliage was just starting to bloom. So, my one final piece of advice is to travel as much as you can while abroad because you never know when you’ll have an opportunity like this one again and do something you would never do, you might like it!