Monday, July 11, 2011

"I do believe I have been changed for the better..."

"So let me say before we part 

 So much of me 
 Is made from what I learned from you 
 You'll be with me 
 Like a handprint on my heart 
 And now whatever way our stories end 
 I know you have re-written mine 
 By being my friend... 
              "For Good" -Wicked (GLEE version)

Waking up early on June 29th was a hard day for me. Knowing that as soon as I closed the door to my flat, that would be the last time that I would ever do that. I loaded up into the trusty Super Shuttle and was on my way to the airport. I had used this service tons of times before, but again knowing that it was my last time that I would use it.. I obviously was feeling somewhat emotional. (To say the least..) Lauren and I sat at the airport and waited to board the plane and we knew we had a long day(s) ahead of us. Taking the time change into consideration, we celebrated June 29th twice and after some (very) long plane flights we were finally in L.A. As we had to part from each other, I soon realized my fate. An EIGHT hour layover in L.A. Luckily Molly (one of my pledge sisters) rescued me from the airport and took me to the famed "In N Out Burger.' After saying goodbye to her, it was time to board my plane.
Goodbye, Welly.


Love them. 
Cousin love. 
With my sweet cousin, Jeslea. 
My heart and soul. 

After 4 planes, multiple time zones and over 18 hours of air travel time, I FINALLY arrived at RDU around 1 am on June 30th. Nothing better than my 2 little brothers and mom greeting me! Troopers. The next few days/weeks were full of jet-lagged feelings and trying to get re-adjusted to the hustle and bustle of America. 

It was nice that I got home just in time for our annual Ackermann family trip to Sunset Beach. Being reunited with family and friends was what I was most looking forward to because after all, home is where the heart is, right?

Baby Eva. My obsession.
My view.
Being home for almost 2 weeks now, I have been able to look back and reflect on my trip. I've been able to re-read some of my journal entries and it is amazing just how much I have changed over the last semester. I've traveled to some of the most beautiful places, met some of the most amazing people and have tasted some of the most exquisite wine and delicious food. I am one lucky girl to say the least and I have enjoyed every second of it and it was a pleasure sharing my experience with those loyal followers/readers. It is sad that I am no longer there, but I am beyond appreciative of the people that loved and supported me as well as encouraged me to do this for me. 
The evolution that has taken place over the last semester has seemed indescribable at times but all I can do/say is to really encourage you all to push yourselves and go outside of your comfort zone. I truly do believe that there is nothing better for the human soul than to travel. Meeting others from all over the world paints a beautiful picture of human interaction. Although there were cultural differences and language barriers, I have come away from this experience feeling energized, humbled, and most importantly inspired.. inspired to see more of the world and to meet more people. This semester has brought great piece of mind, has awakened my soul and opened my heart to those that surround me. It has re-iterated my love for people and has really shown me that I am doing what I need to be doing. Being a human development major, I have joked that I 'major in people' and 'minor in emotions.' In reality, this is not to far off. It has been such a joy for me to meet people from all over the world and to pick their brains apart. Although they might have found it fascinating and fun to talk to this silly American girl, I got so much from even the most simple hostel conversations.

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.”    – Mark Jenkins

As far as my future goes, who knows? Who knows where I will be 5, 10, 15+ years from now? Maybe working, maybe in school, married, back in New Zealand? All I know is this experience was just another chapter in the journey that is my life. (Makes for some interesting reading, eh??) Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the love, support, encouragement and feedback. This was an unforgettable experience and quoting Wicked.. "I do believe I have been changed for the better..."

Until my next adventure.... 

        .....Peace, Love, Cheers & Sweet As....


Sunday, July 10, 2011

"You don't know how lovely you are..."

"Nobody said it was easy
  It's such a shame for us to part
  Nobody said it was easy
  Nobody said it would be this hard
  Oh take me back to the start.."
                       "The Scientist" (Coldplay)

My LAST day in Wellington. I think I am still in shock. Especially because I spent my last day primarily packing. (Curse procrastination.) As soon as I finished with my chores, I ran to do some errands and hit the city! It was a little gloomy in Welly but I did not mind it. In fact, many times it suits the city quite nicely. I walked around and observed; every street sign, every corner. Some of these areas I have walked around hundreds of times, yet I can notice something new about them every time. As I walk down these streets, an overwhelmingly calm sensation came over my body. Home. Wellington has truly come to feel like a second (or third) home to me. Its almost like I can blend in and be a local. Well that might be pushing it seeing as how my 'accent' makes me stick out like a sore thumb. I can however Jay-walk across the streets at appropriate times without the use of the automated signs telling you when you can cross. (It only took me 5 months...)

I did some window shopping and then I hit the local record store for some browsing. After spending an hour or so there and finding some keepers (be SO excited, PP!) I knew I only had a few hours left before I had to be back for my cleaning inspection. What to do as my FINAL activity? Espressoholic. It only made sense. The first cafe I had ever tried in Wellington, as a suggestion from my Kiwimate, became a staple in both my life as well as my friends lives. I have spent a significant time in this little cafe. With a welcoming and relaxed environment, I always felt extremely comfortable there.

I have done many things there. Besides try just about everything on the menu with friends, it is a place that has provided a rather exceptional socializing atmosphere, a place to read for my assignments as well as was the backdrop for one of my sociological observation assessments. Its quirky, inviting and I have witnessed many changes that have taken place there. There's a fresh paint job, furniture that has been rearranged and even an expansion of the cafe itself. I find this a very appropriate metaphor for my time here. I have gotten a fresh perspective on life, rearranged my priorities and expanded my views which has in turned caused me to evolve and grow as a person.

Reflection. This has been a common theme in my journey this semester. I think reflection is a very natural and healthy process for people. It lets us 'check-in' with ourselves and make sure all is well. And if all is not well, it provides us with an opportunity to seek change. One thing that came up during my reflection is just how fast time flies. I remember touching down in Wellington for the first time like it was yesterday. Excitement, fear of the unknown, some anxiety of being by myself. However I now look back on this experience and have realized just how much we have to cherish our time and be present in our lives. Instead of focusing on the minor things or those things that are not important, more focus should be put on the people that we are with and those that we care about.

Things do not always go your way. It is funny how life throws you curve balls; but I've realized that it does not matter what it is, it matters how you deal with it. You have control over your reactions. You decide how to present yourself and how to treat other people. You also have a say in who you choose to surround yourself with. And that is who I would like to dedicate this post to. Those that have impacted my life for the better here. Starting with...
1.) BRENDAAAAAAA: my sidekick and partner-in-crime. You are truly an amazing person and friend and I have so many fun memories with you that I will NEVER forget! You have such a big heart and I appreciate your support and loyalty. I cannot wait to see what your future holds. (And for you to come see me @ IU!!!) Keep laughing because it truly brightens the surroundings! Your humor and laughter is also extremely contagious! :)

2.) Lauren: my workout buddy and health guru! I have had so many laughs with you and I am truly proud to call you both a sister and a friend and I expect visits as well!
3.) Hil: traveling buddy! Also another 'sister.' Your adventurous spirit is something that I admire and appreciate to the fullest. You are always down to try something new and I love that! Cannot wait for trips to B-town and the Chi! Basil leaf, here we come!
4.) Nick- thank you for all of your support and encouraging words. Also- thanks for distracting me with NZ culture, lingo, and fashion as well as being somewhat of a personal tour guide. You uphold the stereotype of a 'friendly Kiwi.' Some 'good luck' goes along way, eh? You are truly special- I hope you know that!
5.) Ryan & my fellow TEAN peers: it was a pleasure getting to know all of you. We have times that we will never forget. From Fiji to NZ, an experience that we enjoyed together.  I wish you all the luck in the future!!!!!

6.)Kappas & B-Town frannns: you guys rock! Thanks for supporting me on this mission of finding myself and encouraging me to be the best that I could be! I could not ask for a better group of friends!

Cannot believe that it is almost over... but like they say, all good things MUST come to an end...



Monday, June 27, 2011

"Now I'm coming alive, body and soul, feeling the world start to turn.."

"And I'll taste every moment and live it out loud
  I know this is the time, this is the time to be
  more than a name or face in the crowd
  I know this is the time, this is the time of my life.."

                --"Time of my Life" (David Cook)

What a week it has been since our Queenstown travels. Last week I got back and Brenda and I went to see 'Bridesmaids' and it was a hoot. We laughed out loud and at some points were the ONLY ones laughing. (Language barrier?) On Thursday, Lauren and Hillary came over for our last Mexican meal together. It was nice to catch up with them. Our friend Kristen came over and we played an intense game of 'Phase 10.' It was then time to say our goodbyes.

I hate goodbyes. 

They make me feel emotionally unstable. 

We then had a fairly relaxing weekend. On Saturday Brenda and I hit the town for our LAST night out! We had to begin at our favorite bar, Good Luck. We have had many great nights there that have made for some really fun memories. It was then off to Alice and Boogie Wonderland to meet my (Kiwi) friend, Nick. We also ran into some other friendly faces! After realizing this was my LAST night out in Wellington, I started to get a little sad. Actually that is an understatement. It was more of an 'ugly cry.' (Which Nick, poor guy, had to witness! My bad!)

The next day I decided to be really lazy and give myself a day of rest. And I spent my Monday packing, organizing and making lists. I took a break to have dinner at Fratelli with Nick, which was a relief because it had been one busy day and its always nice to catch up with him! I then came home to a messy room that still needs to be packed up.. and with ONE day left to do it.. I am starting to get a little nervous.. (sorry, Mom) It also did not help that I took the time to look back at some of my favorite memories here rather than do my chores...


Laughing until tears.

Cape Reinga. Love of my life.
Road-tripping back from Taupo.
Bay of Islands.
The Bar Crew.

On the way to Milford Sound.

After getting the opportunity to skype with Maria, my mom and two of my pledge sisters today I have realized that I am starting to get excited to be reunited with them. Although I have had the time of my life here, I realize that all good things must come to an end so I was thinking about all of the things that I am excited to get back to....

1.) My Family (and our annual beach trip coming up!)
2.) My Kappa sisters
3.)My friends @ school.
4.)Kappa & IU
5.)The doodles
6.) Matthew's Graphic Tees
7.) My house & bed.
8.)My surrogate house w/ Paul and Sara.

Ahhh, Kappa what? 
Mags is an Angel. 

Honesty day: Friendship. 
Turtle Tugs. 
No group of women that I would rather dance with.

Twebb :)

2 of my faves.

Gracie and Podolski.
Datwich: 'I do my own stunts.' Duh.

Southern belle.
Love them. Amurrica.

...and the list goes on... last day in Welly.. here I come! Lets go.