Alyssa in New Zealand: Two is better than one

Doing something more than once is anything but a waste of time. In fact, it allows you to see more of what you have initially missed. As pointless as it may seem to visit the same place for a second time, it is actually very beneficial.

After returning to Queenstown once more with my parents, I was exposed to some of the more geographical aspects of the area. As we drove to several different vineyards throughout the day, I got the chance to see the nature that truly surrounded Queenstown. It was quite strange to think that vineyards could thrive in such a dry, cold area in the region. However, such wineries have learned to adapt and grow successfully in New Zealand’s weather conditions, even if they are situated near mountainous areas.

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Northburn Station winery

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A taste of Queenstown scenery

I also returned to the Milford Sound, except this time, instead of just standing at the entrance, I went on a boat cruise that took us deeper within. Despite the fact that it was raining fairly hard (Milford Sound is considered to be one of the wettest places on Earth), the beauty of Milford was not overshadowed by the dismal weather. As a matter of fact, the rain only contributed to its magnificence, for there were several waterfalls, most of which formed from the rainfall, that were running down from the mountain peaks into the sound. At one point, we encountered one of the more powerful waterfalls. As we made our way closer, the vibrations began to increase from the impact of the water hitting the sound. We were several meters away, but we still managed to get completely sprayed and covered by the water. The force of the water was immense, but it did not prevent us from approaching it.

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The reverberations from the waterfall became more and more immense as we approached it.

There were vast amounts of fog which made it hard to make out some of the peaks of the mountains in the distance. However, the magnitude of the mountains were fully revealed when the boat made its way through the fog. Throughout the cruise, we were all kept in suspense, waiting to see what more Milford Sound had in store for us beyond the layers of haze.

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A layer of mist floated over Milford Sound as we made our way deep within

The minute I returned to Dunedin, I finally had to put myself to work, for it was officially final exam period at Otago. Even though I was disappointed by the fact that I had to stop traveling for the time being, I knew that papers were a priority during my time over here as well. It felt a little weird to abruptly put my travels to a halt, for I had become so used to being on the go for the entire semester.

There was a significant amount of work that I had to do in order to prepare for my exams. My theatre exam was a take home exam, for which I had to write two essays. For my microbiology exam, the paper consisted of over thirty lectures. There were forty multiple choice and three short essay questions, all of which had to be answered in three hours (very similar to Richmond’s exams). The only difference was that these exams were more heavily weighted on my final grade.  As a result, the exams covered a lot of material and it was obligatory for me to do well.

Since my theatre exam was a take home, microbiology has been my only exam so far that has taken place during a given time slot. The location for each exam is usually very random. For instance, my exam was set in the old physical education gymnasium instead of a classroom or lecture hall. The room held an exam for not only my class, but for another class as well. The desks in the room were set up in rows and each person was assigned a number. As we took the exam, three proctors continuously walked around the room, watching almost our every move. The room atmosphere was tense, and the experience was similar to being a room full of students taking the SAT’s.

Now that two out of three of my final exams are out of the way, I have free time to myself once again. Having only one exam left makes the end of the semester seem so soon. The end is quickly creeping up and I’ve barely begun to notice it up until now. I continue to explore Dunedin in my free time, for I still haven’t seen everything. Whether it consists of me waking up early to watch the sunrise, hiking tracks that are not typically highlighted or discovering new beaches around the peninsula, everything still seems new and exciting. I still find it astonishing that all of these amazing sights and spots are so close by. Their proximity and easy access just reminds me that I have to take advantage of them while I’m living here for the last four weeks of this experience.

The odds of me seeing these people again in the near future is very slim, for we are all from very different places. Being from Boston, having friends all the way from Michigan to Norway does not make visiting each other very easy. Nevertheless, I plan on making the most of my time with the friends that I have made over here until the very end. It’s never too late for us to arrange a last minute trip in our last few weeks. The end may be near, but that does not turn us away from continuing to travel more.

Having been to most of the highlighted areas of the south island, I find myself wanting to return to the same places again. I have a fear that I will forget the sights that I have seen. Something new is always discovered the second time, which makes me think that there is still more out there. Even if I don’t see everything, it always gives me an excuse to come back all over again.

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Sunrise at Saint Clair Beach on the Otago Peninsula

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