New Zealand Blog #4

Published on Thursday, May 26th, 2011

by Hillary Dzamba

This month, Hillary covers:

  • Vacation on the island of Fiji
  • Community service at an animal shelter
  • Running a 1/2 marathon
  • Mixed emotions:  Study Abroad coming to an end!

It seems like just yesterday I was writing my first blog entry for Becker, and now here I am writing my last. People always said how fast time would go by and they were extremely accurate. Although it seems like I just arrived yesterday, I also feel like I have lived here for years. Since my last entry I went on “Easter Break” but to me it felt more like Spring break. After much consideration, I ended up going with a group of friends to two different islands in Fiji. It was by far the best vacation I have ever been on! The people were some of the kindest that I have ever met. I spent three nights on Bounty Island which was small enough to walk around in 30 minutes. It was my first time on a tropical island and I was highly impressed. We spent our time there snorkeling, swimming, reading and soaking up the sun, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. The next two nights were spent on Coral View, which was 4 hours further off of the mainland. The coolest part of the whole trip was going to the Sawailau Caves. A group of 4 of us and 3 guides took a small  motor boat out to a deserted island and climbed stairs that lead into a cave. Then we were given goggles and told to jump into the water and start swimming. The first part of the cave we swam in had an “open roof” but then the guides showed us through an underwater tunnel that lead to an enclosed roof cave. Thankfully one of the guides had a flashlight so we could see because it was pitch black! I was a little apprehensive at first but once I surfaced on the other side it was well worth it. The guides would turn off their lights and you couldn’t even see one inch in front of you, it was pretty crazy. My only complaint about Fiji was that it went by way to fast! I highly suggest going.

l also started volunteering in my spare time at the SPCA here in Dunedin, which is their local animal shelter. It’s been so much fun getting to work with the cats, kittens, rabbits and dogs! One thing that I have really missed since being in New Zealand was having interactions with animals. I searched for the nearest animal shelter and sure enough there’s one about a 30 minute walk from my flat. They were extremely inviting and showed me how I could help right of the bat. Hopefully I don’t cave and adopt a bunch of animals because I don’t think I have room in my luggage for them!

Saint Clair Half Marathon located at the top of the South Island

Some other exciting news is that I participated in the Saint Clair Half Marathon located at the top of the South Island (about a nine hour drive). This half marathon was unique because instead of being alongside a road, we were running through various wine vineyards, farm land as well as along a gorgeous river. Myself and four other friends traveled up to be part of it, considering we signed up for it 4 weeks before the actual race, none of us were by any means prepared for it. I did better than I thought I would, but now after experiencing it I would love to invest time and actually train for another one in the future. On our way home back to Dunedin we stopped in Hanmer Springs to spend some time in the natural thermal springs. This was just what the doctor ordered after many hours cooped up in a car followed by a 13 mile race and then more hours crammed in a car. There were three sulfur pools filled with unfiltered water from below the ground, its natural heat was like a hot tub’s temperature. The only down side was the smell of sulfur in the air.

Overall it has started to get chilly down here as winter approaches; one aspect that I miss from dorm life is not having to pay or worry about electricity, aka heat. There is not central heating here and most electric heaters are very expensive to run, therefore all flats are always very cold. It’s weird to be in your room and have to be dressed from head to toe in sweats and heavy socks; I swear sometimes it’s colder in our flat than it is outside! But I’ve been introduced to the craze of ‘hotties’ which is a flat, flexible, rubber bottle that you fill with hot water and sleep with to keep yourself warmer.

The view of New Zealand from the plane

As my time in NZ winds down I’ve been hit with a lot of final essays and projects to complete within the next two weeks. I have mixed emotions about my time ending here; on one hand I am extremely excited to see family and friends but on the other I am really sad to leave this place I have come to love. I’ve met so many great people, seen great sights and made memories that will last me forever.

I would like to reiterate that deciding to study abroad was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I really hope more people at Becker begin to take interest in the various programs that are offered through Center for International Studies (CIS). It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I think everyone should experience!

I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and I hope others have enjoyed reading it; see you all in the Fall!  :-)

Take Care-
Hillary Dzamba

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