Kaitlyn Terrey is a designer, explorer of the world, relentless optimist, pun-generating machine and fan of the finer things in life. She is the most organized spontaneous person you’ll ever meet, and she is serious about good humor. Basically, she is a living, breathing oxymoron. Kaitlyn kind of thought she’d be doing things like saying “ciao” and kissing people she just met on both cheeks at this point in her life, but instead she hammocks on her stomach like an awkward caterpillar, has the freckle pattern of a tortilla and coughs almost every time she laughs.
On Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, after a mere 14 hours on a plane, coupled with Melatonin and two in-flight meals that were presumably baked pigeon, I found myself on the other side of the world. Everything in New Zealand feels differently, but oddly familiar at the same time – like an eerie parallel universe where the people are wildly friendly and the animals are not.
Not to mention, I basically time-traveled to get here and lost a full 24 hours crossing the international dateline. You’re literally reading something being written on a day that you haven’t even lived yet. Spooky, right?
I spent my first couple of days in New Zealand’s capital, Auckland, as well as Waiheke Island. I checked out museums and cafes. I went zip lining over vineyards on the island with a heart full of adventure and purse full of food. The next morning at 7 am, I missed my first Uber ride. I chased my second one about two blocks as he began to abandon hope that I was going to show up, which was totes Auck(land).
By some miracle, I arrived at my Stray bus tour pickup location, a little flustered, but none the worse for wear. I embarked on the journey of a lifetime with 24 people from all over the world – thrown into a small bus together to explore the North Island.
Being the only American, “Kate from the States,” I answered a flood of questions about politics and felt pretty insecure about my white bread accent. The next few days were filled with all types of adventures, from a hike into Cathedral Cove to digging our own jacuzzis at a volcanic hot water beach. I went to a traditional Maori performance and dinner (yes, there were Hakas), checked out Hobbiton and kayaked through a beautiful waterfall-filled gorge at a Blue Duck conservatory (so remote it needs two double A batteries).
By the end of the six days, I felt like I’d known the people on this tour for years. New Zealand began to feel a lot like home. With the foreword of my life Down Under wrapped up, tonight I catch my flight to Melbourne to begin the official first chapter. It will be an adventure worthy of a Hobbit. I can’t wait.
Grand Canyon University offers students opportunities for students to study abroad and make the most of their time on campus. Learn more by visiting our website or clicking the Request More Information button at the top of the page.