Describe a goal you set and how you went about accomplishing it.
Ashley: I knew from the beginning that I wanted to make connections with kiwis, as I wanted to learn and explore beautiful NZ with experienced people. I also sought a stable ground in which to build friendships. Thus, I turned to a local church to find connections. My on-site coordinator attended this church, so it made it easier for me to know where I could find young adults to speak with about outside functions.
I was deeply blessed by this experience, for right away I met people who were kind, compassionate, and caring. They knew what difficulties can be present in the lives of students studying abroad, and they offered support.
Now I am happy to say that one of my best friends I have to this day is a kiwi!!
If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Ashley: If I would be able to go back and redo my experience, I would do nothing different except take more advantage of the time given to me right from the beginning. I know it is easy to tell yourself, "Oh of course I will cherish every moment and not be that person who doesn't use their time wisely."
I am not saying I did not cherish every moment, but I feel like I could have squeezed more out more adventure in the time I had. I could have planned more activities in advance. Nevertheless, I would never ever regret any experience or moment, for it has shaped how I view the world and my life now. It is something that can never be taken away from you. And it is precious.
Where was your best photo taken and what was it of?
Ashley: I believe that some of my best photos, including thee best photo, were shot in locations along the Routeburn Track on the South Island. When I tramped this track with my sister, the weather was perfect the first and third days, but snowing on the second as we passed through the mountain tops and above the snow line.
We were not deterred by this harsh weather. We would pause, look back behind us, and appreciate the beautiful white blanket layed all around us. This allowed for such wonderful, pure and raw photos, as my first photo depicts. I was utterly humbled by this physically and mentally demanding experience.
What made this experience unique and special?
Ashley: For me, New Zealand has always been my dream country to travel to. From its lush landscapes to its diverse wildlife, nature and what it nutures has always brought me joy and happiness. This was the first time I traveled alone, away from my family, so this was an experience of complete independence. I had to learn to be okay with being on my own, and I am very happy to say that I would never mind being an independent traveller.
You can learn so much being on the road alone, and finding people to befriend along the way. New Zealand has caused growth in me that is hard to explain, but I will be forever indebted to this gorgeous country. It has hoisted be higher on the sail of world and self discovery. I now have concrete memories to grasp to and push me into a wild and adventurous future.