Though final exams are on the horizon at GW, those of us at the bottom of the world are only halfway through semester, thanks to the late start of the fall term in February. Don’t feel too bad for me; my mid-semester break has just started and I’m currently packing my suitcase for a two-week trip.
I haven’t even left for the airport yet, but I’m already finding that traveling the South Pacific is a big departure from, say, spring break in Europe. While a train pass and a long weekend might be all you need to gather a few more passport stamps in Europe, I am currently surrounded on all sides by a very large ocean. All of those countries that look fairly close on a map really aren’t. It takes three or four hours to fly to Australia, five hours to Fiji and 10+ to Southeast Asia, so most study abroad students stick to bus trips around New Zealand, since there’s no shortage of sights to see within the country. Yet with two weeks of break ahead of me, I’ve decided to spend half my time looping around the South Island of New Zealand and half in Australia. After traveling for the better part of a day to get to New Zealand, what’s a few more?
I’m interested to see how my time so far in New Zealand has changed my perception of Australia. Until a few months ago, Australia and New Zealand were basically interchangeable to me. One was a bit greener, one was a bit sandier, but everything else was almost the same, right? A few days ago while booking a a tour, I called an Australian company and was surprised how different the accent on the other end of the phone sounded compared to the clipped Kiwi accents I hear every day.
Now I am firmly on the NZ side of the Aussie-Kiwi rivalry (generally friendly, unless the other is winning at rugby), but I’m sure that when I check in next week from across the ditch, I’ll be having a great time.