Welcome Home Caroline ~ Love, New Zealand

Caroline Stratton
January 30, 2016

In ten days I will finally be departing on a 37-calendar hour journey to Christchurch where I will spend the next 5 months.  I haven’t exactly been to New Zealand so there won’t be any “Welcome Home” signs, but I have stalked the country enough on Pinterest and had enough day dreams to feel like when I finally set foot in Kiwi country, I will feel at home. 

It blows my mind that people keep asking me why I chose New Zealand for my study abroad experience.  Coming from a girl who spent all her Christmas money on a new wetsuit for surfing, and then camped out all night to be first in line at the REI New Year’s garage sale to get the best price on a new tent, daypack and spork, it should be obvious why New Zealand was my top choice.  (The spork purchase really pushed me out of the intermediate grouping and into the highly coveted expert backpacker club). 

There are not many countries that offer as much as New Zealand does.  From what I’ve read, weeklong trecks are second nature for Kiwis, not to mention rafting, surfing, bungee jumping, snowboarding, rock-climbing, and sheep encounters are casual daily activities for locals.  Looking one way, there could be a beautiful black sand beach and turning around could offer a view of the mountains with roaring waterfalls breaking on a lake. 

I’ve forced myself to push back most of the apprehensive thoughts that arise in my head thinking about the experiences that are to come, but it’s almost impossible to calm all of my nerves.  I don’t know any of the other students in my program; I haven’t been assigned a room or roommates yet; I have no idea how I am going to pack everything I need into just a few bags, and the front of my airline ticket includes a hotline number I can use in case I catch a disease from an exotic pest.

I haven’t written out specific goals that I want to reach during my time abroad, mainly because the universe usually has a way of pulling me off one road and taking me on adventures I never expected, and also because I’m just not a planner.  But I want to arrive back to the states knowing that I said “yes” more times than I said “no;” that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, developed lifelong friendships, grew more independent, and put myself in the face of New Zealand’s beauty countless times.  Oh, and since I’m enrolled in Intro to Rock Climbing (yes that is an actual class at University of Canterbury), I will also arrive back home a rock climbing expert…or maybe with just a little more muscle in my arms.

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Caroline Stratton

<p>I&#39;m Caroline, a native to Southern California, and a student at Texas Christian University. &nbsp;I&#39;m studying Social Work and hope to eventually work in the field of child welfare, where I&#39;ll give children who haven&#39;t had the best start to their lives a chance to be successful. &nbsp;I love to play soccer, surf, go on backpacking trips, and eat delicious, healthy food. &nbsp;I&#39;m hoping to meet new people, explore as many places in New Zealand as I can, and gain cultural awareness through my experience abroad. &nbsp;I&#39;m ready for some new adventures and in New Zealand, those aren&#39;t hard to find.</p>

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