Friday, September 24, 2010

Reasons and Reservations

Hi everyone,

This blog is part of how I hope to stay connected to all of you while I’m on the other side of the world. Please feel free to comment on the web page, or to send me some other form of message if you feel compelled to do so, I’m not trying to make a one-way thing.

Having a blog like this also follows in the footsteps of cousins of mine who have created blogs to keep family members and friends updated. There’s a mixed audience here, which is tricky, but hopefully it'll work.

So let’s get started! By the way, THIS FIRST ENTRY MAY BE REDUNDANT FOR MANY OF YOU. I’m just looking to cover the basic questions of why I’m going and how I feel about it.

So Why Do This?
 Well a lot people who come back from study or work abroad talk about missing the chance to meet new people all the time. Other travelers especially tend to be very open, friendly, and interesting. It can be a strain, at least for me, but it's exciting. With each  person you meet there's no assumptions about you, so it's a chance to reinvent yourself just a little. I think that accounts for part of the "growth" that people talk about as a result of living abroad, but a lot of that "growth" is probably bull. Anyway.. traveling is just fun, this is just one attempt to explain why.

So that was how I felt a little over a year ago when I came back from Italy. I didn't want to loose that lifestyle of meeting new people all the time, and also the aspect of trying to figure out/get a beat on foreign cities. I also had very little idea what I wanted to do for a career at that time, and I felt like saying I was going to work abroad in New Zealand just sounded much cooler (and I guess younger) then saying I was planning on being an actuary... not that there's anything wrong with that.

Later that summer I pretty much made the decision to go off again after I graduated. It's hard to remember my exact motives a year later, but I've partly just trusted that my former self made a good decision.

Why New Zealand?
The country was introduced to me by this Italian guy finishing up his trip around the world (talked for a bit at a Dublin hostel). He described Australia and NZ as his top picks for beautiful places, and said the common pass times in NZ were more focused on extreme sports, less on beaches, as in the case of Australia.

My reasons for going (in chronological order as I discovered them):
First of all, it's very pretty. There's all kinds of pretty nature. Volcanoes, glaciers, lots of variety.

Second, I found out pretty quickly that if you wanted to just go to a country and get a normal job (not teach english or do peace corps) then Australia and NZ are two of the best places to go. Doing a gap year, or an overseas experience, is much more common in NZ. As I've been told they kind of have the infrastructure there for temporary work.

Third, as I started to have this as my established plan, every now and then I'd run into someone who was also planning on going there or who had spent time there before. I always really like those people, so I assumed that I'd like people I'd meet in NZ. 

I also started to get into rock climbing this summer and I'm hoping to be able to break into the beginner's scene there.

My Main Reservation: 
People older than me almost always encouraged it, saying that now is the time to do this type of thing. One of my friends who got a full-time job (not very common among friends my age) mentioned that he was already starting to feel the commitment weighing him down.

But although I certainly have less commitments now than I will in the future, there's still a lot I'm tied to in the states. In addition to personal ties, I'm still working on graduate school applications (after shifting interests this summer from OR to Biostat) and I won't be completely home free when I get to NZ. There's still a lot to do, and in many ways I'd be better off spending my time and savings visiting grad schools. I'm sort of hoping that I get into exactly one or two schools, so I won't have to decide.

So that's pretty much where I stand. I've more or less got my backpack packed and my papers in order. When I get there (on Sept 27) I'll stay in Auckland for a little less than a week, buy a used car (they start at around 1k to 1,500), and a cell phone. I'll drive south and work on a WWOOF farm for about a week, and then head to Wellington, where Matt offered to have me stay with his parents for a night or two (Matt worked at a lodge where our family's been having family reunions). A lot of this trip will depend on how quickly I can land a paying job.

We'll see how it goes! 

(Again, if anything here jumps out at you, feel free to let me know)


  1. I think this is an amazing journey/adventure you have planned out and I also think it is absolutely what you should be doing right now because you are going to get weighed down by commitments very soon... Gotta say, the pictures are beautiful, I am mad jels.

  2. Cool! I guess I'll feel better when I'm more done with apps (a couple of weeks maybe?)

  3. Very exciting, Aaron, hope you have a great trip. I'm impressed by your confidence. Thanks for blogging! Looking forward to following along.
    Those pics are beautiful. The LOTR one made me smile, too.

  4. I got tired counting all of those sheep.

    Looks like a fun trip.