NOTES FROM ABROAD| Trying something new

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March 7, 2016

While everyone has been preparing for midterms and have already adjusted to their schedules this semester, I have been nervous and excited at the same time. Instead of returning to Mills this Spring, I hopped on a plane at LAX on Feb. 15 and landed in New Zealand on Feb. 17 to study abroad for the semester.

I’ve been in New Zealand for 18 days now and all I can say is….What am I even doing? Who am I?!

Here’s a little about me: I come from a very tight knit family where I am the oldest and have always been an adult. I am a low income, first-generation college Latina student and never dreamed that I could study abroad. I actually never really wanted to, until one day last semester. I woke up and decided to apply. From there, everything else kind of blurred. I got accepted, applied for a loan, and talked about leaving. It felt like a dream. 

So you can imagine me on the plane and upon arrival, feeling like a deer in the headlights. From landing in Auckland, driving down to Rotorua, through Matamata and flying down to Wellington, I was really frazzled the first four days.

During one of my first few days, the program took us students to Waiotapu, a geothermal location. This particular pool is called the Artist's Palette.

During one of my first few days, the program took us students to Waiotapu, a geothermal location. This particular pool is called the Artist’s Palette. (Alexina Estrada)

In just 10 days I have participated in a lot of things. I went zorbing, visited a Maori village and went hiking — or tramping as they say here in Zealandia — in a Jurassic Park type of sanctuary. I’ve also gone bar hopping, club hopping, shopping down on Cuba, gotten lost on purpose so that I could find my way back through the city and tried some of the different restaurants around town. I am still looking for a good Mexican restaurant though. I’ve found plenty of sushi and Thai.

This is the view of Wellington from atop one of the hills I have to walk up from my apartment to my campus. This photo doesn't do enough justice to the view.

This is the view of Wellington from atop one of the hills I have to walk up from my apartment to my campus. This photo doesn’t do enough justice to the view. (Alexina Estrada)

Classes start on Monday for me at Victoria University of Wellington. I’ll be taking New Zealand Sociological Perspective, Investigations of the Social World, Pacific Heritage and Intro to Samoan Language. Campus is a seven-minute walk from my apartment. It reminds me a lot of the Bay Area because of all the hills. I have beautiful views no matter where I walk and thus far, the weather has been nice. It reminds me a lot of Southern California with the warm sun and cool winds, although I hear the weather won’t be this nice forever…winter is on its way.

It’s crazy to me even now as I type that I am actually here in New Zealand, that I have done what I already have done, and what I am planning to do still: bungee jumping in Queenstown, skydiving, going into glowworm caves, tramping for three days, surfing and looking for beaches where I can jump off cliffs into the water.

I've bought a membership pass to Zealandia the other day and I already can't wait to get back. One of my favorite spots is the suspension bridge.

I bought a membership pass to Zealandia the other day and I already can’t wait to get back. One of my favorite spots is the suspension bridge. (Alexina Estrada)

There are times I feel homesick and miss the spoils at Mills that are missing here, but I’m here for four and a half months. So in comparison to the rest of my life, I’m here for a very short amount of time. I plan to come home June 30 a new person: more fit, tan, adventurous and with priceless memories.

Keep a lookout for my next blog as I continue to share my Kiwi Adventures!


NOTES FROM ABROAD| Trying something new was published on March 7, 2016 in Blogs, Front Page, Notes from Abroad

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