Well, it has been 8 months of nearly non-stop travel. Every page of my leather bound journal, including scribbles in the margins and inside covers, is now filled completely with memories documenting this journey across four continents. My travels have not at all gone “according to plan,” but I suppose that the Lord’s plans tend to be different and better than my own anyways. I hadn’t expected to be able to visit both Australia and New Zealand this winter, but I am really thankful for the experiences that I’ve had here and all that I have learned.
In a few days, I will be boarding a plane and on my way back to Italy. After months of discovering new cities and countries, this will be my first time returning to something familiar.
I’m happy to see my friends and Italian family once again, to get reconnected at church, and to settle down for awhile in the small medieval town that I have called home. ...And I can’t lie - I’m really looking forward to reuniting with espressos, gelato, cappuccinos, pizza, wine…and pasta, pasta, pasta! I’ll also be back in language school, and I’m hoping to continue improving my conversation skills.
As for New Zealand, I have fallen in love with this country! Honestly when I departed Europe for Oceania several months ago, I was more excited about Australia than I was New Zealand. I didn’t know much about the country; I was mostly just anxious to see Danielle again and trusted that she would have some cool things to show me while I visited.
My expectations were most definitely exceeded! We met up in Nelson, rented a car, and spent 3 weeks road-tripping our way around the entire South Island. We mostly camped in our little two-person tent, though we also had some fun experiences in a few hostels! I have been traveling on my own now for awhile, so it was fun to have my best friend with me, and we ended up making some more really good friends along the way.
My favorite parts of this trip were: visiting a secret beach to watch the sunset in Abel Tasman National Park, climbing to the summit of Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, hiking to Lake Marian in Fiordland National Park, swimming in freezing glacier water at Mount Cook, and surfing at Sumner Beach in Christchurch.
After three adventure-filled weeks, Danielle and I flew up to Hamilton on the North Island, where she works as an au pair for a local “Kiwi” family. Hamilton has been our home base, from which we have also visited Taupo, and we plan to make a day-trip to Raglan to get one last surf-session in before I leave! On the North Island I've enjoyed being able to slow down and relax quite a bit. Here I had a really good conversation with a local Maori who told me about New Zealand’s native history and culture. I've tried some typical New Zealand treats (like L&P soda and Pineapple Lumps candies), swam in Lake Taupo, and spontaneously joined in on a outside Latin dance class! You can see more photos from New Zealand here.
Also, I have booked one more flight…from Italy back to the USA for my sister’s graduation in June! My plans (as of now) are to stay in the States for awhile to work and study. I’ve been accepted to Western Washington University for Fall Quarter 2016, so now I just need to decide on a major (Political Science, Journalism, Economics, Human Services, Anthropology, Linguistics, History, every foreign language class offered at WWU…. Oh, I am interested in too many things!)
I am excited to study again - I love school, and the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place to live. I'm looking forward to seeing family and friends, and also for some random American things that I have been missing during my time abroad - including goldfish crackers, Robeks smoothies, NBA basketball, and a gym with a pool where I can swim laps! But, I am expecting it to be difficult to re-adjust to life in the States after 3 years in Honduras and a year of world travel. So, if I can ask you all for your prayers, these are my requests, please!:
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.