The decision to study abroad was, for me, sort of an agonizing decision. I'm sure lots of people decide when and where they're going to study abroad before they even pick their college, but in my case, I barely got my forms submitted in time because I was debating it for so long. Part of the issue for me is that I'm an athlete (I run track and cross country), so that going abroad would mean missing a season of track. The other factor was something I'm sure a lot of people struggle with in making this decision: I didn't want to go all the way back to square one and feel like a freshman again for a semester, not knowing the area, not knowing the university, and most of all, not knowing any people. The prospect of leaving the comfort zone I'd built around myself at Ithaca College, and missing what had the potential to be a great track season almost overcame my strong desire to experience a different life for a while, to explore the world and myself.
But it didn't. Pretty suddenly, it just sort of became clear to me that this was an opportunity I couldn't let just float on by into the land of what-if. I decided to go to New Zealand, and I am so extremely grateful to my past-self for finally reaching that decision.
New Zealand is an incredible place. Virtually any town you visit, whether it's the tourist havens of Queenstown and Rotorua, or the tiny town of Glenorchy (I don't know if there's a single stoplight in that place), there is something amazing nearby. In places like Queenstown, it's rather obvious (when you fly in, the airplanes land in a freaking valley between giant mountains, and you're never far from them in town). But even a metropolis (for New Zealand anyway) like Auckland has beaches within a short run or bus ride, and the mighty beachside cliffs of the Waitakere Ranges and even more beautiful beaches like Piha and Whatipu within a 35 minute drive. Similarly, in the other big town, Christchurch, the awe-inspiring Port Hills are a $3.50 bus ride away. There is so much to see. My best advice would be to join the tramping club (that's what they call hiking in NZ) - they organize trips all across the country and allow you to see places it might be hard to get to on your own. If you are a person who can appreciate the beauty of this world, New Zealand is seriously an ocean of possibilities. There's so much more to say, and I could go on forever, but I think the most important thing is that I'm so glad I took the leap.