The first words that come to mind are joyful, sweet, beautiful, and breathtaking. There have been absolutely no negatives that come to mind when thinking and living through New Zealand. All I can think to myself is how can I not be happy and joyful when surrounded by such beauty and given the chance to experience truly once and a lifetime trip. The more I get to know the people I am surrounded by the more I find that I am blessed with such amazing diversity of thought, opinions, and truly amazing souls. Words cannot express how joyful I feel. For context, I am writing this column after coming back from karaoke with the group, and wow, what an amazing experience. Okay, now that I have gotten my little moment of gratefulness off my chest, let’s start from the beginning. Starting this trip, I had no feelings of joy, quite honestly. More feelings of stress and anxiety. This past semester, while fun and the best one yet, was full of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. And the end of the semester did not relieve any of those feelings. I walked on the plane to New Zealand feeling like I had unfinished business and no idea where my feet were going to land when I came back from my month-long adventure. Over the past 3 months, I applied for about 25 different internships within the Texas government system- going into this trip I had been rejected from 17 of them. Rejection is nowhere near easy, but I am learning the lesson of when one door closes another one opens. It’s a bitter pill for me to swallow. You may be asking the question right now as to why I don’t want to be at home for the summer; the simple answer to this is that I have a chronic feeling like I am never doing enough, Wow this is super vulnerable. Plus, the fact that most if not all of my hometown friends, including my little sister who is my built-in bestie, will not be in Houston for the summer. It is also too short of a time for me to get a new job and I didn’t have a stable high school job I could go back to. All in all, this combination of things led to some really hard feelings. However, a lesson this past year has taught me is that we carry on with the confidence of a two-year-old in her mother’s pearls. So, I boarded that plane and left my uncertainty and stress behind; that anxiety was a little harder to kick. Maybe it was the time change, the plane ride, or the rainbow outside of the Auckland airport but when I stepped foot in New Zealand I was met with an overwhelming peace. It’s funny and hard to describe but I can tell you it’s there. It has only grown more intense as the days go on. Today, May 12th, has definitely been the strongest day of this feeling. The day started with an early morning and a gorgeous sunrise and then some early morning socializing on our bus ride to Sheepworld. Sheepworld was just purely joyful. I loved the animals and the scenery. I also got to Facetime with one of my best friends, Myles, which only brought me more happiness. The day continued and as we sat down to watch the show at Sheepworld, I got a call. It is an unfamiliar number, but I knew to answer it because I was expecting one from another internship opportunity. I answered the phone to find out it was the Texas Attorney General’s office extending me an offer to work for them this summer. This came as a shock quite honestly. It was probably the internship I wanted the most but the one I least expected to get which made getting it that much sweeter. I called my parents and was flooded with joy to hear my mama say, “I’m so proud of you baby.” truly a surreal experience with the beautiful New Zealand landscape surrounding me. Thinking back this all happened before 12 p.m. too. The day only got better. Paihia and Russell took my breath away with its beauty, as I am sure most places will. Walking across the island of Russell in 20 minutes to Oneroa Bay and seeing Motuarohia and Moturua Islands on the horizon again had me at a loss for words. The day came to a close with a lovely dinner full of fellowship and shivers only to be warmed up by our voices at a little karaoke bar. There we brought the life of the party with a variety of songs from Before He Cheats to Baby to Get Low and, of course, the fan favorites Dixieland Delight and Sweet Home Alabama. We truly were a force to be reckoned with those microphones and dance moves. Wow, what a day!