The first thing that you should know about people from Massachusetts is that they love being from Massachusetts. I am no exception to that fact. I love the fall foliage, the snowy winters, and baseball season (also known as spring and summer). Maybe my family's and my own love of the Northeast is one of the reasons that I have never really traveled before. So, when I tell people that I am going to be studying abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the next several months, this is generally how the conversation goes:
"So, you've never gone more than a six-hour plane ride from home? How long is your trip going to be? 23.5 HOURS? ARE YOU CRAZY?"*
*I would like to note that I have had this conversation with my mother at least twice a week since I was accepted into the Christchurch program.**
**I love my mother.
As annoying and repetitive as this exchange can get, it is not unwarranted. Other than planning an impulsive, short trip to Iceland this past April, I have never been one to be engulfed by wanderlust. It was a big enough jump for me to leave my perfect home state to live in Washington, D.C. for the duration of my undergrad carreer. So, the question still remains as to why I picked such a remote location for my study abroad program.
I knew going into college that I absolutely wanted to study abroad my junior year, but I had always just assumed I was going to go just across the pond to Europe. This remained the plan until about winter break of my sophomore year when a friend (soon-to-become boyfriend) on my club cross country team began to show me pictures and tell me stories from his time in Christchurch with IES Abroad. I always knew that I could go somewhere other than Europe, but my limited exposure to study abroad programs kept me from seeing the wide array of possibilities. After digging deeper into the Christchurch program (and spending several hours watching videos about New Zealand on YouTube), I was in awe. As someone who loves being outdoors and having the opportunity to find adventure around any corner, New Zealand seemed like a dream come true. In other words: I was sold.
After some long conversations with my parents, a lengthy list of forms to fill out, and the completion of my second semester of sophomore year at GW, I am just a handful of days away from beginning my 23.5-hour journey to Christchurch. I would be lying if I didn't say I am a little nervous for my first real trip away from the East Coast, but just thinking about the adventures that lay ahead of me fills me with excitement.
When I do get that overwhelmed "what have I gotten myself into" feeling, it helps me to think about some of the goals I have for my semester in Christchurch. The first and foremost personal goal I have is to not let myself get stuck in a routine. I hope to have at least one new experience every day, whether that be just going to new places for coffee or hiking up a new mountain, no adventure is too small. I also want to meet as many people as I possibly can. This obviously includes my fellow IES Abroad-ers, but also other students in my classes or any of the clubs I join. To be able to submerse myself into a remote country's culture for several months and only have the responsibilities of a student is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it is important to me that I take advantage of every chance I get to see more sites, meet more people, and smile every second I can.
I can't wait to see what the semester brings, and I hope to show you as many of my adventures as I can.
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<p>Hi! My name is Lexi and I am a junior spending my semester abroad at the University of Canterbury. Although my home university is in a city, I absolutely love being outdoors! Some of my favorite activities are hiking (especially with dogs), swimming in lakes, and trail running. I can't wait to explore the beautiful South Island of New Zealand and share some of my adventures!</p>