Hello Explore readers and welcome back to the new semester! I hope you had a fantastic break. Over the holidays I went on a road trip across New Zealand with some friends and it was amazing! I’m a firm advocate for the benefits of travel. I love experiencing the sights and sounds I’ve read about in travel mags my whole life and I believe that there’s no better way to learn about the diverse cultural backgrounds and histories of the people who make up our globalised world. Which brings me back to New Zealand – in between soaking in the beautiful landscapes, hearing from locals about the rich history of the country and bypassing a multitude of sheep, I also learned some valuable life lessons which I’d like to share through some anecdotes from the trip.
Life lesson: Patience
Activity: Getting stuck in traffic
Upon arriving in Wellington we located our rental car, loaded our luggage in the back and (with a good deal of excitement) were on our way … until about five minutes later when we entered the city and got stuck in a massive traffic jam. Roads were closed, drivers were impatient and a ten-minute drive to our accommodation turned into an hour crawl through the city. Our plans to grab a late lunch turned into an early dinner and the sightseeing we had planned for the afternoon was pushed back to the next day. Sure it was a little frustrating, but as I sat in the backseat between two friends I realised it could have been a lot worse – we were in a new country, and as we made our (very slow) way through Wellington we were actually seeing some city sights that we might have otherwise missed. With a little patience we made it to our accommodation and even had time for a little walk through some of downtown Wellington after dinner.
Life lesson: Letting go
Activity: Bungy jumping
New Zealand is the home of bungy jumping, and while in Taupo I decided to take the (literal) plunge and give it a go. As I stood on the edge of a cliff overlooking Lake Taupo I just cleared my head and let myself fall. It was exhilarating! As a student I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I’ll edit an essay multiple times, each time finding something that I think needs to be altered. Bungy jumping taught me that it’s okay to take a step back (or in this case forward) and just let things go, I might even be better for it!
Life lesson: Time management
Activity: Jam-packing activities into a single day
For me, travel is about experiencing as much as I can in a short space of time, and in order to do this time management is key. On our drive from Taupo to Rotorua (which took around an hour and a half) we saw the opening of the dam gates over the Lake Taupo rapids, raced back to our accommodation to collect a forgotten jacket, drove to Rotorua, took a hike through a Redwood forest, had a soak in a mud bath and made it to a restaurant dinner. All in one day! I guess it goes to show that there really are enough hours in the day if you start with an early morning and some organisation!
Life lesson: The importance of nutritious food
Activity: A whole lot of very bad coffee and an awful sugar high
I’ll readily admit that sometimes my diet leaves a lot to be desired, especially during exam and assessment time. The same goes for when I’m travelling – for the first week in New Zealand we basically subsisted on coffee, lollies for the car trips and take-away dinners. While it sounds pretty delicious, it really wasn’t a healthy way to travel. I was on a sugar high for most of the day and by dinnertime would be exhausted. Which is why I decided to supplement my caffeine diet with some fresh produce – it was as easy as ordering a salad or veggies when we went out for dinner or deciding to occasionally cook up a stir-fry in our apartment kitchen. It made me realise that nutrition shouldn’t be taken for granted, and it really is important to make healthy food choices, especially as a busy student.
Life lesson: Problem solving and teamwork
Activity: Getting lost in Auckland city
Picture this – five Australians standing in the middle of Auckland trying to find the art gallery. While getting lost is half the fun of travel, it’s not so enjoyable on a cold and rainy morning. This is where a map, navigation skills and some teamwork come in handy. Rather than panicking (my default position when I get lost), we worked back from where we were staying and managed to pinpoint the street we were standing on, where the art gallery was in relation and the quickest route. This simple task really highlighted the value of effective communication and teamwork, and how dividing a task into smaller steps makes a huge difference in the end.
So there you have it! Some life lessons gained from a very enjoyable trip! New Zealand is a very beautiful country and I would highly recommend a visit if you can make the trip.