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Experiencing firsts 7,000 miles from home

June 15, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Tabarik's blog:
We headed to Kaikoura after our time in Christchurch, and it was amazing. The cold weather didn’t even matter because everything was beautiful – the sea, the sky, the trees, the mountains, all of it. People always say we all see the same sky when we look up, but if you were at Kaikoura and saw the night sky, you would be in awe. The Milky Way was very clear and just simply spectacular; it makes you think of the beauty of life and the world despite everything else that goes on. It really just takes something that simple, away from everything else in life (personal issues, school, social life and technology), to make you understand what really matters.

We got to go on a dolphin swim/wildlife tour, but nobody got to swim with the dolphins because of bad weather. They're wild dolphins, so it's not guaranteed that we would see them. But we did see albatross, whales and seals. We also visited the seal colony, which was amazing.

Our next destination was Blenheim. The highlights of time spent here were visiting the farmer’s market, kayaking and touring Yealand’s Winery. Kayaking at Marlborough Sounds was awesome because it was my first kayaking experience. The view was breathtaking and I'm sorry I couldn't take pictures but I couldn't take my camera with me.

The trip to Yealand’s Winery was beautiful, and we to see a rainbow! Talk about a great way to end the day. Another first for me was our ferry ride from Picton (approximately 30 minutes away) to Wellington, in the North Island of New Zealand. Wellington, as Dr. Sean Weaver mentioned at the start of yesterday’s lecture, is the windiest city in the world. It seems to me that although it does get warmer as we go further north, it still seems cold mostly because of the wind. Upon arrival in Wellington we stopped at Mount Victoria-Wellington Town Belt, which was named after Queen Victoria who was in reign when Wellington was colonized. The view from up there was stunning; you could see the entire city! After that we went to Weta Museum and got to see how they make amazing effects and all of the hard work that goes into making movies like "Lord of the Rings" and "King Kong."

I'm learning a lot in my classes about healthcare, the environment, agriculture, sustainability, and I realized that all it relates to my becoming a well-rounded individual. It has opened my eyes to things I had not paid much attention to in the past, like food deserts, food miles, how other countries view healthcare and what systems they use for their peoples.

Through personal observations, New Zealanders seem very nice and hospitable. Everyone that I have came across for directions, at restaurants, hotels – or even those that I asked to take part in our ethnohydrology research survey were very nice and always had a smile on their face.

Tabarik Ahmad, a global health major, will be a junior this fall. She is studying abroad in New Zealand and Fiji this summer.