Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The adventure begins... [11 October 2010]

There are bright blue skies above me, some whispering puffs of cotton balls to the side, and an expansive pillow of white beneath the wing I am peering behind. Somehow the image is fitting while I have begun the first day of what I expect to be an adventure of a lifetime! Although currently flying somewhere over Texas, I am ultimately headed to Aotearoa ("the land of the long white cloud.") For those unfamilar with this Maori nickname, you may have heard it described as the "adventure capital of the world," or even "the most beautiful place I've ever seen!" For others, it's known only as the home to hobbits and lions named Aslan.

That's right, I have officially set off for New Zealand! 

At the moment I declare this statement to others, there are a few different responses I typically receive. "Wow, that's awesome! I'm so jealous" seems to be a popular one, while other people focus on, "what do your parents think about that?" Most everyone, however, has to ask 'why?' "Why New Zealand?" "Why a whole year?" "Why so far from home?" My answer? "Why NOT?!" 

Due to an over-involvement in extra-curriculars, compounded by taking my time to declare a major with extensive core requirements, I never had the chance to study abroad in college. I have enviously watched my sister venture to places like Brazil, Scotland, Italy, and Costa Rica--sometimes for a short jaunt and other times for an extended stay--but I have never taken more than a brief family vacation outside of the continental US. Many friends spent a semester in London or wherever else their heart desired, but I seem to have stifled a bit of wanderlust in exchange for practicality's sake. I went directly from high school into college, and immediately began job hunting upon graduation.

I got a taste of the travel bug when I decided to pack up and move myself to Florida in order to take a job in my field that didn't involve working in a long term care facility (and didn't require the catch-22 "minimum 2 years of experience necessary.") For those of you unfamiliar, I am a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. That's just a fancy way of saying I like to help people (of all types of abilities) engage in recreation activities in order to improve their quality of life. I worked for two years as a recreation therapist at a psychiatric treatment facility for kids, teens, and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. Reigning originally from just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and going to school in upstate New York, Florida was a bit of a change! I managed to build my own little life there and very much enjoyed being able to use--and subsequently become fluent in--American Sign Language through my job. Despite the unbeatable [winter] weather, access to lakes and beaches, and community I found myself surrounded by, life in Florida wasn't for me. Too hot, too flat, and too far from family were some of the excuses I made when leaving, but I think the real reason was an overall sense of dissatisfaction. I wasn't the happy person I wanted to be, and needed to find something more appropriate and exciting for where I am in life. Enter: New Zealand.

Many things drew me to choose New Zealand, not the least of which was hearing about the plans for my brother and sister-in-law's honeymoon there this past year. Being a recreation therapist, a rock climber, and an outdoor enthusiast, I figured the adventure capital of the world seemed like a good idea! I find it fascinating that, in other countries, an OE (overseas experience) is not nearly as outrageous an idea as many Americans make it out to be. In fact, it appears to be fairly commonplace. Frequently Kiwi and European gappers take the year between high school and college to go off and see the world. For me, it has taken a little more push to go against the grain and take a bit of a career break... I didn't want to take a vacation. I wanted to live in a culture different from my own and really experience it. I resigned from my job, moved home for the summer to spend some time with family, worked at a restaurant to earn a little cash while planning out my trip, said goodbye to my dog, and now here I sit on a plane to Los Angeles.

Thus begins my journey to a very different corner of the world, in hopes of getting to know the people and culture of New Zealand while learning something about myself along the way! I invite you on my adventure by following me here. I will try to post stories, pictures, lessons learned, and general updates as often as possible and hope you enjoy the ride with me :o)

5:00am goodbyes


  1. Sadie!!!! She'll be so lonely without you. I know we are. But have a great adventure kid. When you first told Karen and I about your heart's desire it really added up. Often times I encourage high school grads to take a year, go somewhere, maybe do missions, but take a year and find you so that you can begin to realize the world is much bigger than YOU.

    Even though I know you have a grasp on the world being more than your own little world, I am encouraged by your desire to seek meaning in more than the comfortable...but that's you.

    Just be careful...I know, I know...Mom and Dad have already told you that over and over, but be careful. And check in often....

  2. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~Neale Donald Walsch

    You are a beautiful writer my dear. Have a wonderful experience! I have a feeling it's going to be over before we know it.
    I miss you already, seriously. I miss you being at the other end of the phone. But it's OK. Let's get out of that comfort zone for a minute, see where it takes us.....!


  3. @ Jay, thank you for your confidence and support. I definitely miss you and the gang and hope all is well in Florida!

    @ Emily, I love that quote. I have been trying to live that quote! I am loving all the experiences I've had so far and though I might be on the other side of the world, I'm still right here :)


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