Google Earth doesn’t cut it. My Facebook pictures don’t either. Neither Pinterest nor Tumblr can show it. Nope.
For a lot of people, seeing a picture is believing. And that’s enough for them. For me, that’s not quite how it works. I just couldn’t grasp the magnitude of this place until I got here.
Before I left the minus 4 degrees of Minneapolis, I wasn’t sure just how sweet New Zealand would be. I had seen it on Google Earth a million times: Arthur’s Pass, Akaroa, Mt. Cook. Still, I wasn’t convinced.
Don’t get me wrong, Google Earth is one of my favorite things to do when I’m struggling to finish homework in the wee hours of the morning. It’s awesome to see the whole world at the click of a mouse. Stonehenge, the Great Wall, Yosemite.
In the middle of September, when I was beating myself up over whether to come here for a semester or stay at Purdue, I spent hours and hours clicking through pictures of Stewart Island (which I’m dying to hit, but not because of the pictures I’ve seen), Abel Tasman, and Milford Sound. But did they come with the chilled mountain air? Or the heat of the sun beating down on your burned neck? What about the taste of saltwater after running into an ocean wave that’s as tall as you are? Not a chance. No matter how fancy your super-zoom or wide angle lenses are on your $2000 camera, you can’t capture that with a picture.
A friend of mine, Adam, said one day, “Either you tell them you’re going to New Zealand, or I will.” After taking a walk that afternoon, still wrestling with my own head, it hit me. Screw. It. I’m. Going. Suddenly, I didn’t need pictures to tell me whether or not I would have a good experience here. I would just go and judge it for myself. That was a pretty liberating walk for me.
Google Earth is cool. But it’s just not a substitute for an experience like this.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Robbie Latta and I am a junior studying civil engineering at Purdue University in lovely West Lafayette, Indiana. I am also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity on campus. I like to spend time outside, bike, play hockey when I am home in Minnesota, write, and spend time with my friends. I am coming to New Zealand to explore the Kiwi lifestyle and have some fun!</span></div>