Reflections on Christchurch A Year LaterChristchurch, Fall 2010

There is virtually no aspect of my life that I would consider untouched by my time in New Zealand. I feel that my study abroad experience gave me a fresh perspective in so many ways. The value gained from this undertaking manifests itself in ways small and large--from springing for meat pies whenever I see them to planning my early professional life around the idea of going back. New Zealand had a profound affect on the way I see and explore the world. As a geology major at a school in small-town Ohio, I was not particularly appreciative of the terrain surrounding me. It seemed like there wasn't much to explore and nothing geologically interesting was going on. When I first got to New Zealand, this prejudice against my origins only intensified, but when I came home I can to realize that there were a number of things that Ohio had that New Zealand didn't. I also realized that there was plenty to explore just off the doorstep of my on-campus house at my small college. So much, in fact, that I am only now feeling like I have a relatively comprehensive knowledge of the city and all it has to offer, and I've been here for four years. I didn't truly start exploring until I got back from New Zealand and brought with me the spirit of exploration that lead me on walks for hours and hours around Christchurch, Wellington, Dunedin, Akaroa, other cities, parks, etc. Just as they did in New Zealand, my walks here in Wooster have provided me with fantastic new insight into my immediate surroundings. For example, I appreciate the geology of Ohio - a lot of sedimentary rock and fossils - more than I did. This is mostly in the spirit of recognizing diversity. New Zealand's geology is tremendously variable and gives rise to stunning formations and features. Ohio's geology is similarly variable and interesting. You just have to look more closely to find the cool stuff. As odd as it may sound, I find that this is a good analogy to the social aspect of my experience. There is just as much interesting material to be found in small towns as their is in cities. You just have to search a little harder. I don't want to give the impression that all New Zealand was good for was giving me a renewed perspective on my life at home in the States. It also provided me with an increased fervor for exploration outside of my comfort zone. I caught the travel bug and intend to make my way around as much of the world as I can by whatever means necessary. I am currently looking at education and employment options overseas (New Zealand and elsewhere), and so far I have been able to use some of my New Zealand connections to make substantial headway in this respect. In other words, my experience in New Zealand will most likely contribute directly to my academic and professional future in both the short and long run. In short, I took nothing bad away from my study abroad experience. Quite the contrary, in fact - it has helped me tremendously both to grow personally and to plan where my life and activities will take me in the future. New Zealand was nothing short of incredible, and I think it will continue to prove its worth as a part of my life for as long as I continue to explore and examine the world around me.
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