How do you summarize this 21-day epic adventure? How can I begin to describe one of the greatest experiences of my life as the end dawns upon us? I reflected on all the places I have seen from Sheepworld to Paihia to Christchurch to Milford Sound, to moments like karaoke, stargazing, ice skating, ziplining, and hiking. I could write a novel in great detail about this journey that seemed to go on forever while simultaneously being gone too fast. However, while deciding how to write this farewell column, I realized the one thing that made every moment of these 21 days memorable, enjoyable, life-changing, and most of all special. It was all the people.
To Landon and our discussion of who would be a better TA for Nate and your admirable independence.
To Addie and one of my favorite pictures of your hoodie behind your ears that we compared to Dobby and your sense of adventure.
To Anabeth and every video that I caught her saying something embarrassing like “I like the texture of flowers, they are so soft” and always genuinely caring for others.
To Anderson and his reenactment of Bilbo’s “I am going on an adventure and your confidence in yourself.
To Aubrei and her cute little dadadadada and the way she is always kind and welcoming.
To Aydan and the best karaoke rendition of Before He Cheats New Zealand has ever seen, and for your transparency.
To Benji for his whole conversation about fish being chicken at Hobbiton and his go-with-the-flow vibe.
To Brett for his intense bright flashlight that became useful on the stargazing nights and your responsibility.
To Callahan for all the conversation about soccer and his kindness.
To Caroline for her love of all things gin and your friendliness to everyone on the trip.
To David for his willingness to pick up bugs with Doug and your easygoing spirit.
To Eva for watching an HGTV episode of people buying a lake house property in Tuscaloosa and her gentleness in every event.
To Hope for our early morning nature walk through the gardens of Queenstown and always being there for me.
To Jake for singing every song under the sun together everywhere we walk and for his fun-loving personality.
To Julia for always saying hi to me when she came onto the bus and for her radiant smile.
To Kyle and handing me a miniature tomato one early morning, and your navigational skills.
To Luke for your outstanding piano playing abilities in Auckland and your constant encouragement and optimism.
To Mackinly for your high amounts of energy at karaoke wearing a random man’s cowboy hat and your adventurous soul.
To Maddy for being insanely smart with the number of fun facts she knows and her honesty.
To Nic for our shared love for wings and dabbing me up and your goofy personality.
To Sahuj for your scary ability to lie about being colorblind and your sense of adventure.
To Wes for constantly laughing at me saying things too positively and for your caring for others.
To Stephanie for her love of Ice Spice and her liveliness.
To Dr. Lamar for her small talk and responsibility and her ability to get us in our assigned rooms promptly.
To Dr.Latta for liking the name Baaartholomew for my sheep and his calmness, contentment, and polite manner.
Finally to Dr. Parker for the wonderful plane ride where we talked about your family, how you met your wife, your career, and probably many other things, and for being our teacher, friend, advocate, and encourager the entire trip.
So what did I gain on my adventure? I gained 27 friends, perspectives, and memories. This trip was special not because it was my first time abroad or because of the natural beauty but because I met wonderful people. Whether the interactions were large or small, I wanted to thank them for all the impact they had on my life by being who they are. This whole experience will be something I appreciate forever, and it is mainly thanks to each of them.