Nature, Landscape, and Night Sky Photography by Zach Schierl

Pre-New Zealand thoughts

So…per the suggestion of several individuals, I have decided to be spectacularly uncreative and “write” a blog about my study abroad experience just like everyone else seems to be doing.  However, before you avert your gaze and dismiss this as simply another study abroad blog, let me inform you that my blog has the potential to be especially uncreative for several reasons. Lets review them shall we:

#1: As some of you may be aware, I am going to New Zealand (Dunedin on the South Island to be precise) which, while quite cool, is itself a rather uncreative study abroad locale.  Based on the fact that I’ve met three completely  random people in the past two weeks who studied abroad there (one on a plane, my airport shuttle driver in Salt Lake City, and a guy in my WFR recert class who ended up staying there for three years) and the fact that a crapton of Whitties go there every semester, I can’t exactly claim to be thinking outside of the box here.

#2: Unlike many of my fellow study abroadees (abroaders? abroadians?), my program isn’t particularly unique or exotic.  I’m enrolling directly at the University of Otago for a semester and will be living in what appears to be a fairly typical apartment style building.  I will not be living in a hut and studying the 20th century social dynamics of Bhutanese monks, or the decline in subsistence farming on the high Argentinean Pampas or any other cool/crazy stuff such as that.  So why am I going?  I’m going to New Zealand BECAUSE IT’S FREAKING AWESOME.  I figure this is reason enough given that it is highly unlikely I will ever again have the opportunity (read: money) to go somewhere for four months purely because it is awesome.  Unless I drop $1000 now on the Arizona Cardinals to win the 2012 Super Bowl (60-1 odds at last check…) and then Kurt Warner decides to come out of retirement.  New Zealand was also a logical choice because English is the only language I speak (except for when I use what remains of my high school Spanish knowledge to annoy people.) and frankly I really don’t have the mental capacity nor patience to learn another one. I think that’s it….oh yeah and I can take a geology field camp class that my college requires for graduation yet doesn’t actually ever offer themselves!  Brilliant, huh?  So while I am sure every country presents its own unique customs and culture and I am looking forward to seeing in what ways New Zealand differs from the US of A, I have determined that there is a KFC, a Dominos, and a McDonalds within a two block radius of my apartment which for now makes Dunedin sound suspiciously like suburban Tulsa…

So why should you read this blog then?  Because New Zealand is also FREAKING BEAUTIFUL. More than 50% of my baggage is devoted to backpacking gear which I fully intend to utilize as often as humanly possible. And since I don’t particularly like writing nor am I much good at it, this blog will likely feature a rather high picture to text ratio.  My current plan is to take lots of pictures, post them in relatively low resolution here on this blog as a teaser, and then sell them for millions of dollars when I return to the capitalistic confines of America.  It’s fail-proof and you know it.

Anyhoo, after a fun week at Whitman and some equally un-fun goodbyes, I am now sitting in the Los Angeles Airport as throngs of people surround me after deplaning from a flight that I venture is arriving from Hawaii given that every other person coming off the plane is carrying a little Dole Pineapple gift box. I am extremely excited and I imagine I will be even more so once my 14 hour plane ride is over and I am actually in the place that I have been looking forward to going to for so long.  I am hoping that a combination of Tylenol PM and Benadryl will allow me to actually sleep on the plane since that sort of thing is normally a problem for me.  That’s all for now, no pics for the moment since the internet here sucks and Terminal 2 at LAX isn’t exactly what you would call photogenic…more to come from Kiwi-land soon!

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