Q&A: New Zealand & Australia

We just recently welcomed home a group of students from a month-long tour of Australia and New Zealand. They saw everything from wine country to koalas, went bungee jumping, and climbed glaciers – all the while earning 6 credits for Intercultural Communication here at EIU.

We caught up with EIU senior Jersey Milano who is majoring in Interpersonal Communication, and asked a few questions about his time spent “down under.”

Q: Talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
A: My favorite spot was Napier, New Zealand because of the wine tastings and the awesome black stone beach where I watched the sunrise.  Napier is compared to Napa Valley’s wine country.

Q: Did a local point you to a market, pub or park you didn’t know about?
A: In Cairns Australia, there was a souvenir shop that the highest price I saw was $17 for a hoodie.  They had shot glasses, stuffed koalas, cozies, shirts, mugs, and much more.  When I went there to get souvenirs for my family, I bought three 12 packs of koalas, a bigger koala, 3 pack of shot glasses, a koozie, a hoodie, and a mug all for only $30.

Q: What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
A: My toughest day while abroad was in Franz Josef, New Zealand. I have a disability known as cerebral palsy.  I have never let it hold me back, but in Franz Josef, it held me back.  Everyone was able to climb a glacier but it was the smartest decision for me not to climb it.  I did not want to get stuck on the glacier and have a helicopter airlift me off of the glacier.  I felt weak but it was for the best.

Q: You’re probably homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
A: I am homesick for Queenstown’s very own Fergburger.  While there, it was the best burger in the whole wide world.  There needs to be a location here!!

Q: You could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?  
A: The most shocking thing I witnessed was actually being face to face with a kangaroo in Port Douglas, Australia.  I never thought I would be able to pet it, let alone feed the kangaroo.

Thanks for sharing, Jersey!

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Everyday Abroad: New Zealand

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.

Outside our hostel in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Outside our hostel in Queenstown, New Zealand.