Walking through the hallway in Coleman in fall of 2009, I saw the sign for Intercultural Communication and Co-Cultural Experiences in New Zealand and Australia. I tried to ignore it and move on, but I needed to know more. After going to the informational meeting a couple of weeks later I was sold. For some reason, I had this strange, unfounded desire to visit Australia. Where this came from, I have no idea. As for New Zealand, I saw it as a nice stop along the way and nothing more.
At 7:25 AM on the morning of June 3, 2010 we arrived in New Zealand. After three weeks of bus rides through volcanoes, Maori cultural performance in Auckland, staying in hostels, glacier hiking in Franz Josef, bungy jumping in Queenstown, and nature tours in Dunedin, I was not ready to leave this country I hardly cared to visit.
Before I went to New Zealand, I knew that they had an indigenous population, a lot of sheep, were called Kiwis and many other random facts. It wasn’t until I got there and experienced the people and their culture firsthand that I truly began to understand what it meant to be a Kiwi.
Reflecting back on this experience two years later, I wish I would have taken initiative to learn more about New Zealand before I got there. I miss the view of the mountains reflecting in the lakes of the South Island, the sense of humor of the Kiwi flight attendants and being able to recycle anything from an aluminum can to food scraps in the hostel.