Students reveal bad travel experiences

 Beats, Scene & Heard, The Well  Comments Off on Students reveal bad travel experiences
Feb 202013

Author: Michaela Koretko

“I’m from Mexico, and one time, on the way back from Mexico they thought my mom wasn’t my mom and that she was sneaking me into the country. We got isolated, and they held us for a while. It was scary. It’s really funny when I think about it now.”

-Julia Miranda, Freshman

“In Japan, we had just been to a restaurant and were posing for a picture.  I half back-flipped over my friend’s great-aunt who didn’t know any English. I was so embarrassed that even though I knew the word for ‘sorry’ all I could say was ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry!'”

-Kristin Long, Senior

“My family chartered a boat in the Bahamas, and there were squid everywhere. They were flopping and jumping all over. One was on the boat, so I picked it up. It inked all over me. Yeah. Don’t pick up squid.”

-Liesel Schiffhauer, Sophomore

Student Abroad: Home away from home

 Blogs, Student Abroad, The Well  Comments Off on Student Abroad: Home away from home
Nov 012012

Author: Anna Palmer

This past week I went WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) for a wonderful Kiwi family in the beautiful and majestic Waitaki Valley.  Immediately, I knew I had picked the right family.  As I waited at the bus stop, a woman called out asking if I was Anna and greeted me with a warm, welcoming hug, instantly soothing my nerves.  I had been slightly nervous about this experience, going away on my own, living with a family I had never met and really putting myself out there not knowing quite what to expect.  What I found was truly a home away from home.  The Tyrrell family welcomed me into their home with open and loving arms, making me feel apart of the family.  It was amazing to see the hospitality that a stranger can give to another stranger and the unique bond that comes from this simple gesture.  They had welcomed me into their home in exchange for 4 mere hours of work each day, which consisted of painting

The house where I WWOOFed for a week

The house where I WWOOFed for a week

closet doors.  A seemingly simple task, but one that requires careful and precise movements, I came to find myself quite enjoying the meditative, peaceful state it put me in.  Time seemed to fly by so quickly and I found myself meditating on the seemingly simplistic aspects of life.

In a warm and loving environment such as it was, I felt myself enveloped in this cloud so full of love the entire week.  Their house was nestled in a beautiful, peaceful valley, with snow-covered mountains in the backdrop, a picturesque place where I found much peace, rest and tranquility.  Interacting with the family felt effortless and natural, almost as if I were a relative visiting for a couple of days.  I felt myself opening up to these seemingly strangers and effortlessly conversing with them.  I had some of the best conversations with Amber, the mom, and the conversation between us felt completely natural.  She had much wisdom and love to share and it was absolutely amazing to hear about some of her life experiences and the spiritual journey she has been on.  This week was like a breath of fresh air, as it gave me the chance to converse on a higher spiritual level than I’ve been able to in a while.  We were able to talk about things like meditation, near-death experiences, finding the God within and truly living out your life purposefully and meaningfully.  It was amazing to be apart of this opening up process and experiencing this higher-level connection with someone who was previously a stranger.

With any experience though, I find myself wondering what was lacking.  This experience was not about getting my hands dirty and really immersing myself into the farming environment nor was it about waking up at the crack of dawn and working till dusk.  It was of a different, unique type, one that I am overall very thankful for.  Although I did not get the hands-on experience of working with farm animals, I do believe this was a good starting point.  It was a nice way to ease myself into the WWOOFing scene in a way that has urged me to seek out more opportunities and challenge myself to try out new things, things I may initially be unsure of.

This experience gave me something I didn’t quite know I needed.  It gave me a break from the mundane routine of everyday life.  Being surrounded by a family so full of love and kindness made me appreciate the family I do have back home.  There have been a handful of times while I’ve been abroad where I’ve longed to be with my family.  Being with a Kiwi family, in a way, substituted for the family that I haven’t had while I’ve been here.  It was nice just to be surrounded by that love that so often goes unnoticed and unappreciated in a family.  Being with the Tyrrells made me appreciate my family and look back on all the times we’ve shared with fondness and appreciation.

A view of the Waitaki Valley

A view of the Waitaki Valley

I am so thankful to have had this experience, not only this past week but of these past 4 months.  It’s all too often the case when I am unable to appreciate what is directly in front of me whether it be the amazing beauty of New Zealand or the love of a family.  Although I long to be near to my family and long to be back home every now and then, I stop myself because I know that once this moment is gone I will long to have it back as well.  Everywhere I go I’ve been seeking to really appreciate and soak up each and every moment for I know once it is gone I can’t get it back.  I’m slowly working toward being content and satisfied with what I have and what I am experiencing in this moment, not reaching toward the future or delving back into the past.  All I have is right now, this moment and I can choose to check out and miss out on all the beauty and love right in front of me or I can consciously choose to remain present with all the love and bliss that surrounds me at all times.  This love is within me and accessible at all times and all that is needed is to make the choice to access this true state within me and let go of all the worry and fear.  So in this moment, I choose to return to this state of love and align myself with all that is good for in this moment all is well and all is just as it should be.